Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Jacqui shows her mettle

There were those who were beginning to doubt the wisdom of Gordon Brown in promoting Jacqui Smith so quickly to Home Secretary. This blog has never had such doubts, and yesterday's bravura performance showed why. Where her predecessors failed to get the better of her incredibly self-important shadow David Davis, Jacqui did so with ease. As to the substance of the charges against her, that she didn't rush to hold a press conference to announce every problem she encountered in the Home Office - as the normally sane Danny Finkelstein would have her do - she had a good riposte: "My approach was that the responsible thing to do was to establish the full nature and scale of the problem and take appropriate action to deal with it, rather than immediately to put incomplete and potentially misleading information in the public domain." That is not to deny her responsibility to inform the public, but it is to say that the job of ministers is to give leadership in sorting out problems rather than forever wringing their hands about them. The idea that every cabinet minister should spend their whole time holding press conferences for the gratification of the Daily Mail and the Tories about the difficulties that are brought to their attention on a weekly if not daily basis - save where there is a genuine risk to the public or a case of impropriety - is a recipe for anarchy, not good government. And I can't say I remember such regular confessionals when the Tories were last in power, either.

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