Moral relativism in action

The moral relativism of our age was in full view today, everyone is to blame so no one is responsible. Charles Clarke and the Home Office allowed over a 1000 foreign criminals back on to British streets. They discovered the problem in July 2005 but didn’t tell anyone until this week. After the difficulties were discovered, a further 288 prisoners were released without the option of deportation examined. The Prime Minister believes it is not a resignation issue. Neither are any civil servants to be held responsible. John Prescott having an affair with a junior civil servant is dismissed too as a private matter.
It is certainly a far cry from the high standards of ministerial responsibility advocated in the legendary Hola Camp speech by Enoch Powell. The test of acting responsibly has been replaced by the test of surviving media pressure. Does the refusal to take responsibility not feed public cynicism about politicians?

In terms of Northern Ireland, as talks begin about the future form of Executive Government, how can structures be designed to ensure their collective nature doesn’t lead to harbouring and protecting incompetence?

  • Cataegus

    We are looking at a Government slowly dying it has the same feel as the waning years of the Tories.

    Clarke must go and the running of the Home Office examined with a clear mandate to allocate blame. The Health Secretary is also in an impossible position and has lost the confidence of her Department. (and practically everyone else)

    Labour’s results in the local elections are likely to be dire. I can’t see Tony lasting a year.

    Labour came in with so much promise and thumping majorities and could have done whatever it liked and what has it achieved? When a party is based on hype rather than substance and lacks clear values well what else should one expect? Time for a change.

    The problem locally is setting up an Executive that comes under the scrutiny of an effective opposition, but for that to happen will require substantial change and an end to some of the inclusive mantras. I have always disliked the sectarian nature of the structures but perhaps just two parties should form the Executive?

  • middle-class taig

    It’s great that we have DUP supprters here to tell us all about “acting responsibly”.

    On point, of course it feeds cynicism about politicians. But the nature of the British body politic is such that cynicism about the motives and moral judgment of politicians is inevitable and justified. The vast majority (and I genuinely mean the vast majority) of professional UK politicians have been angling for power, placement and patronage since their late teens. They believe in nothing; hold nothing sacred. Principles are just another currency to be traded for a seat at the high table. British politics is the cult of self-aggrandisement.

    No better in the south, by the way, before the whatabout chorus begins.

    Strange that, despite our own home-grown political deviancy, it’s difficult to accuse many of the leading local politicians of careerism. Certainly not SDLP, SF or DUP (at least historically, although no doubt it will develop as “real politics” emerge – I guess MaryLou gets accused of it a bit, but it’s a tough one to make that accusation stick). Perhaps there has been an historic career path (an me fein element) in the UUP, although, the careerist baby-barrister crowd have largely decamped to the DUP. I imagine the DUP old-guard can smell the lack of principle off them a mile away.

    The one thing that nationalists have always had to grudgingly accept about many DUP leaders is that they genuinely believe and feel the hatred they spout and think their “vision” would actually improve people’s lives. They could be ministers in government in a heartbeat.

    Scary, tragic, albeit principled.

  • Couple of points on this. First, most of the hoopla about this is that ‘we are releasing murderers and rapists back onto our streets where they have the opportunity to re-offend’. Few commentators are making the point that according to the rules of British society, these people have served their time and have been released according to the instructions of the judges / juries who locked them up. They are now free people. There may well be instances where deportation should have been considered and wasn’t, and there may well be policies regarding the dealing with foreign nationals who have committed offences after they have served their time, but the fact of the matter is that British citizens are released from prison every day having committed serious crimes, and served their time. This smacks of xenophobic and disproportionate concern, coupled with political opportunism. It allows the Tories in particular to play the race card, without affording the government a defence (due to administrative disaster). The BNP will have a field day with this – not about the substance of the matter, but being able to say that over a thousand foreign nationals came over to the UK and committed heinous acts that warranted custodial sentences. How many more got away with it? Shame, shame.

    On the moral relativism point, there are certainly politically sensitive areas that will need to be addressed. The tribalism of the North and the lack of an opposition, will make for a difficult transition. I don’t know what the answer is. I do believe that local politicians will raise local issues, but I’m not sure how vociferously the voices will be raised in a public forum such as the assembly.

    Perhaps the opposition will be comprised of the British & Irish governments, keeping watch over the workings of the Assembly, and ensuring that in apolitical governance, reasonable standards are upheld.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Charles Clarke and the Home Office allowed over a 1000 foreign criminals back on to British streets.”

    Who does he think he is- Secretary of State for Northern Ireland? Look forward to Rowan williams and co telling us how this is a painful necessity for the , er “law process”.

    BTW. Is it only me, or why did the Mirror not run the obvious headline for the Prescott affair

    “Two slags” (or “hags” or indeed “bags”) :0)

    I’ll get me sash

  • Green Ink

    British politics was notable until very recently for the fact that ministers actually resigned in light of scandalous inadequacy. It looks like the Blair government has learned the Teflon approach from the Bertie government. Joe Jacobs anyone?

  • DK

    I think the Star ran with “2 Shags Prescott”