22 January 2007

The Home Office 1782-2007

Given the old heave-H.O.The death of The Office of the Secretary of State for the Home Department (known to friends and enemies alike simply as The Home Office) following a brutal altercation with a notorious Glaswegian hard man known to gang members as Secretary of State John Reid will be greeted with shock but little horror by all those who had come to know it.

Born in 1782, the child of the Southern Department and Secretary of State Lord Shelburne (who was soon to abandon his progeny for the post of Prime Minister), from its earliest days The Home Office was at the heart of some of the greatest controversies to afflict the nation. Before it had even learned to crawl it was already involved in the most vital affairs of state, including such matters as the direction of Crown grants, appointments and preferments (a role which we are advised certainly was not subsequently assigned to Lord Levy or Ruth Turner).

It was only in its fourth decade, however, that The Home Office was to settle into the job (perhaps one might even say vocation) that it was to cleave to for the next two hundred years, namely the suppression of the people - individually and severally - which it achieved by suspension of habeas corpus, restrictions on the freedom of assembly and granting its support to such brilliant policing actions as the Peterloo Massacre. It was not long after this that, under the direction of Home Secretary Robert Peel, The Home Office first began to dabble in class A legislation.

The hard life which the Home Office was to lead (setting up prison hulks, sending felons to Australia, locking up Chartists and General Strikers and later even the odd Blackshirt), combined with an ever-increasing intake of bills and statutes, began to take a toll. In the mid-1960s, under the influence of Home Secretary Roy "Flowerchild" Jenkins, The Home Office briefly fell out with "the man" and engaged in a series of permissive "happenings", including relaxation of divorce law and abolition of theatre censorship as well as supporting the legalisation of abortions and homosexuality. This "fabulous freak out" turned out to be a brief mid-life crisis before the department of state began the slide into old age.

By the 1980s The Home Office was showing obvious signs of being unable to care for itself. Around the same time it fell under the influence of the first in a sequence of Home Secretaries who were themselves addicted to regular injections of publicity (or "chasing the Murdoch"). Forced to push out more and more laws of lower and lower quality, in recent years The Home Office has shown increasing signs of forgetfulness - often misplacing thousands of prisoners at a time - and paranoia, first insisting on keeping every last citizen under constant CCTV observation, later demanding that each person be required to carry an identity card and be willing to give up their full DNA details to any state employee from a benefits assessor to a lollipop lady. It was in this distracted state that The Home Office first came into contact with John Reid. The tragic result was inevitable.

The Home Office will be buried with little ceremony over the following months, it leaves behind it 24,000 highly dependent civil servants and its two young children, the Ministry of Truth and the Ministry of Love.

1 Comment:

Tom Paine said...

This is really very clever. Thanks for the bitter laughs.