And I thought the the U.K. Liberal Democrats were having a tough time.
On Wednesday, April 26, the arrogant facade of New Labour came crashing down, revealing the incompetent foundation on which it was built.
Firstly, Home Secretary Charles Clarke admitted that he was responsible for the release of foreign prisoners back into the community. Britain had over 1,000 foreign prisoners in its jails. All were released back onto the streets and the Home Office — which is in charge of immigration — has absolutely no idea where they are. Just recently, many of these same criminals have re-offended and are once again back in prison at the British taxpayer's expense.
Secondly, Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, was jeered and heckled by nurses and National Health Service (NHS) workers during a conference in Bournemouth. Hewitt declared the NHS, suffering from cutbacks and equipment and staff shortages, as having had "its best year." Many in the public health profession disagree. They are fretting over the future of their jobs while doctors in general practice are making up to as much as £125,000 per year.
Thirdly, the Deputy Prime Minister’s affair with one of his secretaries was exposed. John Prescott — already distrusted for having not paid his council taxes — enjoyed a two-year liaison with private secretary Tracey Temple, more than 20 years his junior. A local government minister said of Prescott's cheating, "I think it is a private matter for the Deputy Prime Minister." On this count, however, I suppose that neither the Tories nor the Liberal Democrats can talk, as they recently have had to deal with Boris Johnson's and Mark Oaten's own illicit affairs, respectively.
But the most important Labour scandal, by far, is the sheer ineptitude on the part of Charles Clarke of the Home Office. The number of foreign criminals released is staggering: five killers, nine rapists, five pedophiles, 93 robbers, over 200 drug offenders, and 225 other various violent criminals — all released from prison and slipping through the cracks of lax immigration enforcement. The Home Office has admitted it has no idea where they are and what they're up to. Some have already ended up back in jail. As common sense should tell you, the recidivism rate for foreign criminals is high.
"This is regrettable and I apologize," Charles Clarke said in a statement. You're telling us, Mr Home Secretary. It's even more regrettable that you ended up in your position. And Tony Blair should apologize for keeping you on. It's regrettable that you don't have the sense of duty to resign. Only in government can somebody drop the ball so disastrously and still retain their job.