I initially felt more contemptuous of the media than of the government following the loss of those data disks. Rationally I realised the seriousness of the problem, but after I checked my bank balance and it became clear that there has been no widespread identity theft I realised that the media has been turning this into a story of government incompetence when it is really a matter of state incompetence generally.
So some fool messed up somewhere. This sort of thing happens all the time in big organisations.
[And why is Alastair Darling being criticised over Northern Rock? He couldn't nationalise it earlier and he made the right choice in securing people's savings. The fact that it will now cost the electorate is irrelevant. This is why I could never be an elected politician: I despise the electorate. All those whiny, self-involved bloggers and commentators with their precious and ill-concieved opinions. Ugh. (And yes, I am referring to myself as well as everyone else...)]
When will people learn that the government has a very small ability to actually affect people's lives and that this is something we should be thankful for? The state has a much greater direct impact on our lives and the state will always be big and monolithic and dysfunctional (even when it's trying to be hip and efficient by outsourcing non-core tasks to the public sector).
"Datagate" just goes to show that the state should stick to its core tasks of welfare, healthcare, defence, justice, and money supply. Trying to analyse and micromanage every aspect of the lives of every citizen only leads to a greater possibility of these sorts of mistakes happening.
Also: why isn't Gordon Brown concentrating on his vision of equality of opportunity for everyone? Why isn't he pushing this forward at every opportunity and making it clear to everyone that this is what he stands for?
Unavoidable errors can be forgiven if politicians can provide a moral story and justification for their continued stay in power. I don't particularly object to the state losing the data disks as no harm was done and as long as they ensure it won't happen again.
However the lack of an inspirational narrative from Gordon Brown on the environment, equality of opportunity and social cohesion means that all that will ever stand out about this government will be its mistakes and blunders.