Snoopers' charter

THE CHARMING Michael Howard proudly unveiled on Tuesday his latest measure to increase the power of the state, and create what can only be called a climate of fear and suspicion.

Howard has proposed that head teachers, hospital administrators, housing and social security officers - not forgetting any ‘good citizens’ out there - be encouraged and trained to identify suspected illegal immigrants and report them to the Home Office. The proposal has been attacked as a “snooper’s charter” by immigration welfare workers.

The response of Jack Straw, Labour’s shadow home secretary, was so sickeningly mealy-mouthed that even The Guardian was forced to condemn it as “pathetic” (July 19). Straw blithely commented that he would judge Howard’s package on its “merits”, including whether the proposals were “effective and fair.”

Last week, Howard also got another chance to display his profound humanitarianism. Following the brutal murder of Joy Gardner by the Aliens Deportation Unit, new procedures have been drawn up.

Reassuringly, arm and leg restraints can only be used now on an aircraft or before boarding, not while you are in your own flat. Even better, bodybelts with handcuffs attached - as were used on Joy -will be allowed only after a medical examination and in ‘strictly controlled’ conditions. We can all sleep safely in our beds tonight, thanks to that nice Mr Howard.

We must stand unequivocally against any and all immigration controls, which criminalise workers and legalise state barbarism and intimidation.

Eddie Ford