David Blunkett has not had a good week. (Who has in the Government? Not Downing Street, certainly.) He may have settled the Sangatte camp problem but, to judge by his irritable performance in the House of Commons, there are still plenty of unresolved immigration problems. Even Oliver Letwin, the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary, who is always so polite and reasonable, did allow himself to point out that if present immigration policies continued, in a decade there would be 700'000 illegal migrants living in Britain. The clearest indication of Mr Blunkett's ill–temper was an attack on a journalist, Anthony Browne, who is Environment Editor of The Times. Mr Browne knows his stuff – he is the author of Do We Need Mass Immigration, published by Civitas – but his views were described by the Home Secretary as “bordering on fascism”. Perhaps this was a reference to Mr Browne's suggestion that all potential immigrants should be tested for HIV, a practice followed by Australia, Canada and the United States. It is not necessary to agree with Mr Browne's ideas to think that David Blunkett's attack on him was out of order – made under parliamentary privilege and intemperate to boot. The Home Secretary's own staff also came under the whip: “I want to finish with this warning. We expect a step change in operation, efficiency and competence. I shall hold to account senior managers in my department for a different approach.” Is this the way to speak about civil servants who cannot answer for themselves?

MONITOR

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