Wednesday 21 November 2007

Who will face the music over missing disks?

In a category 5 blunder, 2 computer disks containing the details of 25 million people - children included - have been lost. These disks contained sensitive data relating to child benefit claims, and the blunder was by HM Revenue & Customs. (BBC News: UK families put on fraud alert).

The immediate fall guy for this fiasco seems likely to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling. Not that I have any sympathy at all for Ali D; he is a horrible right wing Blairite, who was responsible in 2001 for the government's first wave of attacks on Incapacity Benefit claimants. But the buck certainly does not stop there ...

Catastrophic mistakes like this are made much more likely as a result of overworked civil servants due to an understaffed civil service. For this, Gordon Brown himself must shoulder a heavy responsibility - even before he became Prime Minister, as far back as the early 2000s, he moved to decimate the number of civil service jobs in the name of a "war on bureaucracy". (Yeah, I know that sounds good coming from a government which has brought in more petty legislation than it's possible to keep track of, but that's the phrase I seem to remember them using!)

Whether or not Brown, or Ali D for that matter, end up resigning, there will be repercussions. For starters, they'll find it virtually impossible (I hope!) to force through their "pet project" of ID cards, since nobody trusts the government to hold information about us now. And the fact that a private courier, TNT, were responsible for the loss, will hit the government's plans to privatise the Post Office.

Ah well, you can tell when the government are in deep $#!t. Because they always try to take people's minds off it, by dredging up the threat from the bogeyman of the week. This week it's the turn of under-age drinkers (BBC News: PM urges action on alcohol sales).

So, if you're under 21 years old or look it, you'd best have some ID, to avoid being given the Spanish Inquisistion by the sales staff when you go to buy alcohol. Of course, you could apply for a government/police approved proof of age card, by giving your details to whoever is in charge of issuing these cards.

You never know, maybe these details will end up on the follow up disk to HMRC's current smash hit :-P

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