Personal power?

What the hell is this?

The radical Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed was banned yesterday from setting foot in Britain again under a “personal power” exercised by the home secretary, Charles Clarke.

Last night the man nicknamed “the Tottenham Ayatollah” was at liberty in Beirut after being released from a day of questioning by the Lebanese authorities.

The Syrian-born cleric, 46, who has lived in Britain for 20 years, told a Beirut television station he did not plan to challenge the ban. “I don’t want to go back to Britain unless the government announces personally that I am no longer persona non grata,” he said.

It appears that Home Office officials have established that Mr Clarke has the power to exclude him on the grounds that “his presence is not conducive to the public good”.

This is a different power to that used to detain 10 foreign nationals on Thursday pending their deportation as “a threat to national security”.

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Even for Clarke this is particularly shabby – throwing somebody out of the country who’s not actually committed a crime or anything, basically because he says so and what he says goes. We usually at least try to maintain a pretence of there being proper reasons for these things in this country, Mr Clarke. At least wanting to deport the rest of them had some sort of stated reason behind it, even if that reason was bogus. “Not conducive to the public good”? What’s that supposed to mean?

If one is going to make pointless kneejerk gestures that in fact make things worse (I’m sure this is going to make any potential bomber think “ah, a shining example of the basic goodness of the UK government”) can I suggest that they be harmless ones? Perhaps a balloon display, or building a sculpture out of cornflakes, or cleaning up a local park whilst whistling the Dambusters theme?

Oh, and Rush Limbaugh likes this, which is a great recommendation.

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