How much lower can this government sink? The stench of sleaze and hypocrisy lingers all the time – nowhere is it stronger than round the carcass of Charles Clarke.
The government had a disastrous week in the run up to local elections where Labour was always going to struggle. Now every day its support plummets as lifelong Labour supporters turn away.
The scandals engulfing Labour in recent months – from cash for coronets to the deputy prime minister’s affairs – are bad enough.
Patricia Hewitt being booed by nurses twice in one week as thousands of hospital workers are sacked around the country must strike terror into the hearts of Labour MPs.
Now we find that a home secretary who is waging campaigns on law and order doesn’t even know where his own prisoners are.
The storm breaking around Clarke’s head is entirely of his own making. Clarke began his career on the left, as president of the National Union of Students.
He has long put those days behind him and, as one of Tony Blair’s closest allies, has presided over terror laws, tough on crime rhetoric and Asbos which put him in the same league as his gruesome predecessor, David Blunkett.
The latest scandal is symptomatic of a much deeper disease at the heart of government. Tony Blair and his ministers have never been able to escape the consequences of the war in Iraq.
All their attempts to draw a line and move on have been a failure. They try to win votes by appealing on the grounds of law and order and “reform” to disgruntled Labour voters.
They underestimate the intelligence of working class people, who ask why should our hospitals struggle for funding while £2.8 million a day is going on the war in Iraq.
This government has lost its legitimacy above all because of the war. The longer Tony Blair hangs on to office, the more the opposition to his government grows.
As Respect campaigns around the country have demonstrated, the anger with Labour is matched by an enthusiasm to vote for an alternative which stands for everything Labour should but doesn’t.