Socialist Worker

Time to sack this disgrace

Issue No. 1875

'I CANNOT believe David Blunkett is still in a job.' That was the reaction of Janet Alder, who was taking part in the United Friends and Family Campaign's demonstration over deaths in police custody last weekend. She was speaking days after the BBC documentary The Secret Policeman was shown last week revealing the jaw-dropping level of racism among officers. The programme told me what I already knew. My brother Christopher died in police custody in Hull while officers were caught on film making monkey noises, with one talking about making a Ku Klux Klan style mask. Blunkett won't release that film. He is conspiring to protect police. He should go now.'

The BBC programme was so devastating that five of the police officers exposed resigned the next day. Even the Sun praised the programme for uncovering 'such wicked, gloating, foul-mouthed scum'.

The paper has gone on to expose a Scotland Yard detective constable working in a unit that investigates race-hate crimes who is married to a Nazi sympathiser. What was Blunkett's instinctive reaction to the BBC programme? Two days before it was broadcast Blunkett ranted against the BBC's 'intent to create, not report, a story'. He dismissed it as a 'stunt'.

It took three days for Blunkett to apologise. He finally admitted last Friday, 'It was a mistake on my part to call it a stunt.' He has no excuse.

His department was lobbying against the programme as far back as 12 September. John Gieve, head of the Home Office, wrote to the BBC's chairman claiming the programme used 'deceit'. He accused the reporter of 'misleading' police officers.

When it became clear the BBC was determined to go ahead and broadcast, Blunkett tried to rubbish it. There has been no outcry from Labour MPs demanding Blunkett's resignation. Yet his words give comfort to bigots. His actions do nothing to combat racism. David Blunkett should go now.

Reality of refugee plan

DAVID BLUNKETT announced even tougher measures against refugees this week. His plans will be included in the forthcoming parliamentary 'queen's speech' outlining government plans.

The moves are the harsh reality behind Blunkett's announcement of an 'amnesty' for up to 15,000 refugee families. Blunkett has been infuriated that many refugees succeed in their appeal against an asylum decision. That means they prove it is not safe to return to the countries they fled from.

Last year official figures showed that initial decisions made against asylum seekers were wrong in 22 percent of cases. Blunkett wants to ensure such people who are harshly treated under his asylum rules now have the door slammed in their face.

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Sat 1 Nov 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1875
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