Explaining this to the House, Alistair Darling looked exhausted and defeated. He’s known about this since last weekend. Last Monday, it looked like the CDs may turn up (still stuck inside some guy’s Arctic Monkey’s sleeve by mistake, I like to think) but by Wednesday he called in the Met. He tried the “wisnae me” line, naming and shaming the courier company TNT and protesting that HMRC has “operational independence” (not when Brown ordered its merger with Inland Revenue it didn’t).
Darling’s voice was faltering, and even Labour MPs looked devastated rather than supportive. Jack Straw kept looking the other way, as if he was trying to pretend nothing was happening like an owner of a dog against a lamppost. The top two Labour benches, outside camera focus, were almost empty. How very telling.
Update: In the Commons, Darling said that anyone who suffers as a result of this would be protected. We later learn this is no Northern Rock-style promise, he's simply restating statutory protection. But any parent stung by identity fraudster from now on will suspect the missing CDs are to blame. This could get much, much worse.