Wacky Jacquie resigns: plus ça change at the Home Office?

Jacquie Smith is to step down as Secretary of State for the Home Department in the cabinet reshuffle that Gordon Brown is planning to make after the European elections on Thursday.

While the door to the Home Secretary’s office has revolved ever more rapidly since 2001 the authoritarian brief of its occupants has hardly wavered.

Somewhere in the panic of 9/11 the western world lost all sense of perspective in the homeland security department. Suddenly it was easy to pitch authoritarian pet projects to scared and brow-beaten politicians: the thin end of the wedge had gained traction at last. Since then a steady stream of sledgehammer-wielding civil-serveants, authorities, special-interest groups and snake-oil salespeople have been queueing at the Home Secretary’s door, eager to take a swing at our liberties for their own convenience or profit.

Now UK law permits, amongst other repressive measures, internment, house arrest, limits on the right to protest and keeping files on the innocent. East Germany eat your heart out.

An injection of balance, common sense and proportionality is urgently required at the Home Office. Sadly I suspect it will take more than a new mascot to restore our lost freedoms and the right to a private life in Britain.