So the Revenue have lost some data. As the Independent puts it:
What kind of personal data is contained on the lost discs?
A frightening amount of information: names, addresses, dates of birth, child benefit numbers, national insurance numbers and bank or building society account details.
And the world has gone ballistic. So let me add a note of quiet sanity.
Can anyone tell me that all the fuss is about? ALL the above data on me would be readily available to anyone who wanted to find it with relative ease, at little cost and in minutes, I suspect.
It's not for one minute enough to aid theft of my identity. It is not going to give anyone an increased chance of cracking my bank account over and above the risk that anyone could at any time seek to do so using data form other sources.
So there's only one way in which to view the resulting drama: it is a completely political story on an admin mess up. OK, a big mess up. But let's put this in proportion. Child tax credits was a bigger mess up. And no one resigned. Carousel fraud was much bigger, and no one resigned. Tax evasion is bigger still and I can't hear the resignations.
All that's happened is some fairly low grade data has been mislaid. No one even knows it has been stolen. It's news. I agree. But then so is "Man bit dog" news. But these things it is not:
1) A resigning issue;
2) An IT failure (it was a physical admin failure);
3) A disaster;
4) A sign that the government is out of control of IT. The miracle is that every month people are paid what is due to them.
And if that's the case what is this:
1) A gift to the Tories, undeniably;
2) Clear evidence that the Revenue is under-staffed and under trained.
And that last one issue is the thing you can lay at the door of Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling. The disaster is that we are not spending enough on good public services.
This the real issue. Can we talk about it, please?