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 The test of acting responsibly has been replaced by the test of surviving media pressure.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?