03 November, 2006

Gordon Brown's security empire.

Gordon Brown, the UK's finance minister is floating a plan to increase funding for the fight against terrorism. As the Independent puts it, he is proposing to

...create a single security budget by pooling the spending of MI5, MI6, GCHQ, the police's anti-terrorism work, and relevant spending by the departments responsible for transport, communities, local government and culture.
The Guardian goes much further, discerning plans to create a department of homeland security and that Brown
...is clearly thinking of bringing together budgets from the Home Office, the intelligence services and the Ministry of Defence.
Both papers have been briefed that Brown feels some ministries are not doing enough to win a hearts and minds campaign within Islamic communities.

What to make of it? A good starting point is always to ask, not what politicians are saying but, why they are saying it at this particular time. Brown seems to assume that he will be anointed as the next prime minister when (if) Tony Blair stands down sometime next year. So this grandiose scheme may be a strategy intended to demonstrate that Brown is capable of taking a statesman-like, inter-departmental approach to policy. In this reading, the aim would be to answer criticisms that his approach to the business of government is constrained by his narrow experience of ministerial office, which has been limited to the Treasury. Equally the plans might be seen as originating within the Treasury, from senior civil servants seeing a chance to expand the power and influence of their bureaucratic empires.

Whatever, it is hard to see what an administrative re-organisation will achieve when at the sharp end of War on Terror, MI5 will still be struggling to find the resources to maintain surveillance on terrorist suspects.

No comments: