We need Principles to underpin any Policies. We must have coherent Policies in order to win Power. Principles, therefore, are the order of the day.
Ahem. [Clears throat. Looks pensive. Strokes beard that is growing longer and longer as we wait for inspiration. Twiddles thumbs. Hopes audience will stop looking at me and go away for a moment.]
Considering then things that are important to the Home Office, we have, in no particular order:
- The role of the family in instilling a sense of right and wrong. i.e. turning out self-disciplined citizens;
- An hour of a beat policeman's time spent filling in a form is almost precisely one hour of a beat policeman's time not being a beat policeman;
- Welfare state and compensation/Health and Safety culture that penalises risk and denies that individuals are responsible for their own actions;
- Apparent inability of Government - and especially its parliamentary drafters - to anticipate the most ludicrously obvious bad side-effects of their shoddy legislation;
- Total failure of almost everyone concerned - excluding, of course, your entirely infallible Pedant-General - to recognise that foreign nationals of all stripes are only ever in this country on condition that they don't screw us around. To suggest that a non-UK national who is regarded as a threat to the nation or generally not conducive to the public good has the same right to reside in the UK as a UK national is entirely mind-bogglingly obvious insanity of the highest order;
- Forgiveness is very strictly contigent upon acknowledgement and REPENTANCE of sins committed;
- All cannot have prizes. At least, not if the prizes are to mean anything worthwhile;
- Life is unfair. But it is pretty much equally unfair for everyone, if you allow me that rather natty little paradox.
But what does all this mean? Well, first of all, it means that we must all, individually be responsible for our own actions. Your hooded sneering teenage vandal may well be a victim of those elements of society that have failed him (starting with and primarily because of his parents) but he is still a moral agent. If he knifes an old lady in the street, that is HIS decision alone. In this action he is NOT a victim of circumstance. Equally, if I trip on a dodgy piece of pavement in the road and break my ankle, the council is very unlikely to be ENTIRELY responsible for my misfortune. Did I, for example, really look where I was going?
To be honest, and far be it from your stalwart Pedant-General to shirk responsible and fail to step up to the plate and all that - the Home Office appears to be there primarily to do the fire fighting and dirty work. The things that really need to be done to make this country a better safer and nicer place are the responsibilities of others...
- Instilling a sense of right and wrong: Parents - struggle to see where state can help at all here;
- Encouraging people to take responsibility for their own lives: Tax system mostly
- Discipline in schools: Education Dept. If I had my way, I would institute a rule that it would be the parents that would be expelled from a school, not the child. Thus, they cannot simply move the child to a new school: they would have to prove to any new school that they had changed and were prepared to deal with their child. (if we don't just string the whole lot up from lampposts and be done with it)
- Also Judges to be gently reminded that Foreign Nationals, and in particular those who are judged to be not conducive to the public good, are errr...., foreign nationals and have some markedly different rights to UK nationals, in that they have no right of abode. If they have burnt their bridges that is their problem, not ours. This is probably in the Lord Chancellor's dept?
All in all, this is very, very tricky. We will see, no doubt, in due course what the benign dictator makes of all this...