Whistleblowers and whitewash

Last updated at 15:46 30 March 2004

Compare and contrast.

Civil servant Steve Moxon is smeared and suspended when he reveals that his unit at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate in Sheffield had been told to waive key checks on applications from eastern European states due to join the EU in May.

Now similar treatment has been handed out to James Cameron, the British consul in Bucharest who dared to warn Shadow Home Secretary David Davis that the same lax approach is also being used in Romania and Bulgaria - not yet even due to join the EU.

But what is happening to Beverley Hughes, the minister responsible for abandoning any attempt at enforcing immigration rules and who has already been hauled before the Commons and forced to admit she was less than honest?

She has received the full backing of the Prime Minister, been promised her job is safe, been whitewashed by an inquiry and been supported by a propaganda offensive that bullies those who tell the facts.

Welcome to New Labour morality.


Fighting back

Organised crime, now so closely linked with terrorism, is one of the great menaces of our age.

David Blunkett's proposals are a serious challenge to the racketeers.

Who can argue with long sentences for these Godfathers or with monitoring their financial dealings and movements for several years once they leave prison?

Of course, they need to be caught first. Setting up a national FBI-style force should help - providing Britain's senior police officers support it rather than try to protect their own patches.

However, the plan for a formal "supergrass" system needs to be handled with care. Earlier attempts were discredited by criminals being bribed to fabricate evidence.

The Mr Bigs of crime have had things their own way for too long. Mr Blunkett's White Paper is a first step towards putting them where they belong.


University bully

Has Parliament ever been asked to approve such an ill-thought out piece of legislation as the latest plans for university top-up fees?

Charles Clarke has created a convoluted Bill designed to win a Commons majority by penalising middle class families rather than re-establishing a financially sound higher education system.

Certainly, the case for a policy which condemns students to debts that could last into their 50s has been destroyed.

These measures won't, as New Labour claim, put university funding on a sound basis, as they raise barely £1 billion.

Nor will they encourage students from poorer backgrounds - the high levels of debt will be a massive deterrent.

Now the cornerstone of the Government's case - that graduates should pay back more as they earn more - is being demolished.

A book by two political economists shows that, three years after they have left university, 40 per cent of graduates are in positions which do not require a degree. So much for Government claims that 80 per cent of the jobs created by 2010 will require university qualifications.

So is Mr Clarke having second thoughts? Not a bit of it. He is still trying to intimidate those Labour MPs threatening to vote against his legislation tomorrow.

The rebels should hold their nerve and scupper this Bill.

Then we can debate the real issues of higher education: Can we really justify sending half of all school-leavers to university, and how can we create a funding system that is fair to everyone?

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