Now she’s Rudderless…

AMBER Rudd has pressed the self-eject button, causing a rash of awful puns in this morning’s newspapers, including “Oh Ruddy hell” from the usually supportive Sun and “Good Ruddance” from the reliably hostile Mirror.

Rudd quit as home secretary after her appearance before the home affairs select committee last week. She told MPs on the committee: “We don’t have targets for removals”. A series of leaks and counterclaims then suggested that there were indeed home office targets for the removal of illegal immigrants – and that Rudd had boasted of in a leaked letter to Theresa May written in 2017. In this letter, uncovered by the Guardian, Rudd said she wished to increase deportations by ten per cent.

In her resignation letter, Rudd says that she “inadvertently misled” the committee when answering questions “on Windrush”.

In writing her goodbye letter, she even remembers to attach the word “scandal” after Windrush. Yes, Amber, it was a scandal and remains a scandal, and a shameful low point in our history and our politics.

But does securing Rudd’s scalp help? Would it have been better for her to have stayed to sort out the heartless mess? Her supporters thought so, including Michael Gove, who valiantly stood up for Rudd on the BBC Today programme. Maybe that was an omen: when Gove sticks up for you, the end is nigh and all that.

What troubles me at times like this is that hunting down a weakened minister is a blood sport much loved by the Opposition and by the newspapers.

To an extent, fair enough – a bloodied muzzle is the nature of the game. But does it make the problems any better; will Rudd’s replacement be someone equally as dire or quite possibly far worse? Mrs Maybe doesn’t exactly have a full pack of cards for a forced reshuffle. Now, to add to those awful puns, she is Rudderless.

Many commentators have observed that Theresa May was using Amber Rudd as a human shield. Now she’s lost that protection and looks weaker. A trail of nasty ideological breadcrumbs leads from the Windrush scandal all the way to Theresa May’s time as home secretary, so if Rudd has had to go, that leaves May fully exposed to take the blame.

While scalp-hunting can be unattractive, we must hand it to the Guardian, and to reporter Amelia Gentleman, for the tireless reporting that exposed the human cost of the Windrush scandal.

Sometimes on a day blowy with cynicism it is possible to wonder at the point of journalism with its squabbles and partialities and in-fighting.

Then you are reminded of the power of reporting – proper, focused and in this case humane reporting that goes after one story until it is properly told and fully exposed. Amelia deserves every award that is coming her way, but I suspect she is more concerned with making sure that the story of the Windrush generation continues to be told, along with other stories wrapped up in our stubborn and unkind attitudes towards immigration.

Oh, and all that complicated stuff about Cambridge Analytica and the Facebook data scandal? That was a Guardian/Observer story too, pursued relentlessly by another single-minded reporter, Carole Cadwalladr. Carole was working away on that knotty tale for a year or more before the fizzing blue fuse really ignited.

How uplifting to be reminded of the power of a good reporter.

Leave a Reply