If ever there was a need to demonstrate the paucity of thought and ideas amongst our political classes then yesterday Chris Bryant MP more than fulfilled it.
This week the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee released a report which was highly critical of the UK Border Agency. Amongst other things they raised was the fact that the Agency has lost track of about 124,000 applicants and their files have been sent to a “controlled archive”. Bryant, who is Shadow Minister for Immigration, went straight out on the appearance fee trail and gave us this offering on Aunty’s Breakfast:-
[youtube width=”212″ height=”172″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCpmhu4DgnE[/youtube]
You will note that, several times, he was asked how he would go about tracking the missing and each time he ducked the question. Rentaquote, at its worst, despite the rather sycophantic praise for this pathetic offering that he subsequently tweeted.
I have to admit that I know rather more about this than your average Joe Soap. That 124k represents less than 0.2% of the country’s population. Some of them will have left the UK, some will have settled in a different identity, some will be dead. Needles and haystacks!
I was, therefore, interested to know how Bryant would go about tracing them all. So I tweeted him:-
“@ChrisBryantMP Just exactly how WOULD you go about finding all those missing people, Chris?”
Remarkably quickly a reply came back:-
“@nokhbi For a start I wouldn’t decide to stop looking for them and secondly I wouldn’t cut staff by 5000, 20%”
Now, that really doesn’t answer the question, does it? So I tweeted him again:-
“@ChrisBryantMP Yes, but HOW would you find them?”
And answer came there none!
It is infantile to suggest that the problem of the missing can be laid entirely at the door of the present government. It goes way back through all three terms of the Labour government and, in fact, has its origin under John Major’s Tory administration.
Bear in mind that, if the coalition falls apart and if there’s a general election and if Labour win (rather a lot of ifs!) this man would be measuring for curtains in Marsham Street. He would be responsible for setting the policy of the UK Border Agency. Imagine the scene:-
Whiteman (for it is he!): “Yes, Minister, we appreciate that you want the missing applicants traced. Could you suggest some methods we haven’t already tried?”
Bryant: “Err …”
It’s very easy to stand on the sidelines and jeer, but if you aspire to high office you really ought to have something better in your ideas box than “do better”!