According to today's Observer, No.10's Respect Tsar (it nearly spells taser, after all) Louise Casey has turned against one of Blair's brilliant ideas, specifically the scheme to take away "disruptive families'" housing benefit. Apparently she is concerned that the children of such homes have suffered enough without being turned out in the street where, one supposes, their untidy existence will be grounds for an instant Asbo. This is remarkable...or is it?
Ms. Casey has been showing worrying signs of character development in recent months. First there was the speech to top Home Office asbocrats in which she drunkenly berated them for a lack of tolerance of people enjoying themselves. Now this. What on earth is going on? After all, her role so far has been very different.
I think of her as a slightly sinister medic at court, Tony Blair's Doctor Robert. From as early as 1998, when she was commissioned with getting rid of beggars by coercion as head of the Rough Sleepers Unit, she has always had what Blair needs when the sweating starts, the eyes go glassy and the pacing, shaking horrors set in. Then he ducks out of his latest sofa conference for one of the good doctor's injections. 50 ccs of authoritarianism, a hundred units of self-righteousness to run over thirty minutes, cut with liquid pharmaceutical censorship direct from Powderject's Swiss division. Within minutes the drugs begin to take hold and we're all off to bat country as the prime minister hops and tics into action, talking unusually quickly and riffing off the decor. Like so many court doctors who are always there when so-and-so needs some speed, her career was spectacular, hurtling up the civil service ranks, sidestepping from the Home Office to the Treasury, to the Crime Reduction Unit, back to the Home Office, now to the total plexus itself, the Cabinet Office, and at No.10 too.
But, of course, over time the doses just keep jumping. 60, 75, 100 ccs of the stuff - if nothing changes, soon they'll need a syringe the size of a small motorcycle engine. Now, she's holding out on him. You're always early...he's always late/One thing you learn is/You always got to wait, as Lou Reed put it. "I'm sorry, Tony...what you're suggesting goes right outside my professional discretion. Auth isn't a thing to play with, you know. I have my Hippocratic Oath to consider.." Think of the betrayal, the grovelling. But I doubt it will help. Carrying the Leader's syringe is not a business with a great pension plan unless you get out soon enough.