Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Quick, Slip In Another Climb-Down

42 days, secret inquests and Sats. The climb-downs are coming thick and fast along with soaring inflation. With ministers thinking they're on a roll after Brown bankrolled the banks, it's a good time to bury bad news for the government but good news for schoolkids and civil liberties.

After the Lords booted out 42 days detention, Brown couldn't risk sticking to his guns nor could he lose face and throw in the towel. So up popped home secretary, Jacqui Smith, with the odd 'bill but no bill' solution. Totally bizarre - but Brown fudge won the day

Then the government dropped plans, in the same counter-terrorism bill, to order inquests to be held in private using the old chestnut of "on the grounds of national security."

The Oxfordshire coroner was clearly getting up the nose of the government as time and again he publicly blasted the MoD and ministers for equipment failures during inquests into Iraq and Afghanistan troop deaths. 

The solution was simple - just keep them all secret then no one would be any the wiser. 

42 days and the secret inquests have bitten the dust for now. But neither will go away for good. Popping the champagne is too early. It should be put on ice, which is what's happening with these deeply unpopular measures.

42 days will return in some form or other when the government feels there is a politically less risky climate. Another bill is already in the pipeline. There are plans to include those secret inquests in a bill on coroners reforms.

Now, instead of scrapping himself, schools minister, Ed Balls, is to scrap Sats tests for 14 year-olds in England, following this summer's marking shambles.

All this on a day where, back in the real economy, inflation today hit home above the 5% mark, even using the government's own manipulated CPI figures.

What next to get buried in the dust?  How about ID cards? 

The government was playing politics with people's civil liberties the first time round and is just doing it again. Burdening children with a testing culture was playing with young people's minds. Masking the true rise in inflation, is playing with the effect on the real economy 

As has been observed elsewhere, it's all leaving a nasty taste. 

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