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Last Updated: Friday, 5 May 2006, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Mixed reaction to Clarke sacking
Charles Clarke's sacking as home secretary came as a surprise to many. BBC News looks at reactions from all parts of the political spectrum.

DAVID BLUNKETT, FORMER HOME SECRETARY

David Blunkett

David Blunkett was replaced at the Home Office by Mr Clarke, but had words of comfort for his successor.

I know that Charles was offered a very senior alternative post and chose to turn that down because he wanted to continue doing the job.

I think this is admirable in terms of his own self-belief [and it is] what he's said consistently over the last ten days.

I think, however, that there come moments - and I've had them -where you actually do feel that drawing a line and giving a clean slate is in the best interests of your government and your colleagues.

DAVID DAVIS, SHADOW HOME SECRETARY

David Davis

The Conservatives had repeatedly called for Mr Clarke's resignation over the release of foreign prisoners who had served their sentences, but not been considered for deportation.

David Davis said he believed Mr Clarke's successor, John Reid, was in for a difficult time at the Home Office.

I suspect that the prime minister just came to the conclusion 'enough is enough, if I leave Charles Clarke there, the public will never be persuaded we are doing something about it'.

The three ministers who have lost their jobs at the Home Office in the last two years - David Blunkett, Beverley Hughes and Charles Clarke - did so largely because they focused too much on headlines and initiatives.

They did not focus enough on the fundamentals of delivering good policing, proper management of immigration and effective policy on terrorism.

I hope Dr Reid will recognise that the next two years will not be an occasion for rhetoric or bluster, but for close attention to detail.

SIR MENZIES CAMPBELL, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT LEADER

Sir Menzies Campbell
The Lib Dems had also been very vocal in calling for Mr Clarke's resignation over the handling of the foreign prisoner issue.

Sir Menzies questioned the wisdom of replacing Mr Clarke with John Reid, the former defence secretary.

There must be a limited number of jobs that John Reid can do. It seems to me every time there's a crisis then we send for John Reid.

What I think is unfortunate is that the prime minister didn't relieve Charles Clarke of his duties before now.

And the truth is that the prime minister is trying to shuffle a pretty battered pack of cards.

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI, HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP LIBERTY

Shami Chakrabarti
Shami Chakrabarti had criticised the Home Office for "bad administration" over the foreign prisoner issue.

She had also questioned whether Mr Clarke really needed new laws to sort out the situation.

Mr Clarke may feel harshly judged today but for his anti-free speech and ID card laws and for instituting punishment without trial.

Our children may judge him even more harshly tomorrow.

His finest moment was hours after the London bombings last July.

As frightened people hung on his every word, he made vital distinctions between distasteful speech and cold-blooded murder and admitted that ID cards would not have prevented the atrocity.

He forgot party politics and demonstrated what a home secretary could and should be.

It is a great shame that such promise was never fulfilled.

KEN JONES, ASSOCIATION OF CHIEF POLICE OFFICERS

Mr Clarke pushed through reforms to police forces that proved controversial with many rank-and-file officers.

Ken Jones took over as Acpo president last month, but his organisation has supported Mr Clarke over ID cards and a DNA database.

Charles Clarke has been a significant and supportive ally of the police service, and although there were inevitably times when we disagreed with detail, Acpo has certainly been a strong advocate of the direction in which he was taking the service.

He clearly respected our profession and was always willing to engage in full and frank discussion, changing his position when persuaded by our argument. I thank him for that and wish him well for the future.

I now look forward to working with the new home secretary, to continued constructive dialogue and joint working to take forward the development and professionalisation of the service to make it fit for today's world.

HARRY FLETCHER, PROBATION UNION NAPO

Napo had not been among the vehement critics of Mr Clarke over the foreign offender situation.

Harry Fletcher had said it was impossible to predict that some of the freed prisoners would re-offend.

He said Mr Clarke's sacking was a "disappointing loss".

I think Charles Clarke was different from his predecessors in New Labour in that he showed a willingness to consult and a willingness to listen.

He didn't dismiss trade unions or trade unions' views as irrelevant.

As far as foreign nationals were concerned, it was a major scandal, a major problem.

He did show last year that he was willing to tackle it, but I think the problems were far, far bigger than maybe he would have anticipated.




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