David Blunkett: the ultimate irony

The home secretary’s political position has until very recently seemed impregnable: he has even been mentioned as a possible future party leader and prime minister. His ascendancy has seemed to be quite unaffected by an unrivalled record of illiberal measures designed, apparently, to carve away, slice by slice, our ancient and hard-won liberties. He has taken and used powers to imprison foreigners indefinitely and without trial on the basis of mere suspicion of their possible future behaviour; he has claimed the right to rely on evidence obtained abroad by torture; he has abridged or abolished the rights to trial by jury, to remain silent when accused, to be immune from prosecution twice for the same offence, and not to have previous convictions revealed to juries before they consider their verdicts. He has sought to intimidate the occasionally liberal among our judges by constant criticism of their sentencing and judgments. He has fought tenaciously to preserve his power to determine the length of prison term to be served by lifers in individual cases, in the face of clear rulings by the European Court of Human Rights that such decisions are for judges, not politicians. He proposes to create a monstrous national database recording extensive information about every one of us, to contain detailed information about all our movements and activities from cradle to grave, thus putting huge and unprecedented powers in the hands of the state at the expense of the citizen. He has filled our prisons to bursting point on a scale unmatched anywhere else in western Europe. He has sought to deter applications for political asylum in Britain by the harsh and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers already here. He has refused to provide the same legislative protection for children against assault by adults that adults enjoy between themselves. His guiding star has always seemed to be the editorial opinions of the most reactionary and mean-spirited of our dreadful tabloids. And after all this, his political clout has gone from strength to strength.

Until now. Suddenly the media are publishing tittle-tattle about Mr Blunkett’s private life: scurrilous allegations, quite possibly unfounded and certainly irrelevant, cover the front pages and dominate the electronic media, none of them having the slightest bearing on his public position, all of them inviting the reply (in Billie Holiday’s immortal words): Ain’t nobody’s business if I do.

What a sad irony that a political leader should flourish, quite unaffected by an abysmal record in public office, only to be badly damaged by an alleged scandal in his private life which has not the slightest bearing on his fitness or functions as Britain’s home secretary!

28 November 04

4 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Now now! As you very well know abolishing the Judiciary and allowing the Police Force…sorry err, Service… to lock up neer do wells on the direct instruction of the Home Sec. guided by a comprehensive database of all citizens of this country along with their political/religious affiliations and bio-metric data is not intended to opress us – quite the contrary it is to enshrine and embed the “new” liberties that New Labour is endowing the grateful people with….and you would be a fool and a Communist to believe otherwise……Have to go now as nurse is coming with my medicine. Quack Quack…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can you be surprised?He is simply returning to type as ex-communist head of the Peoples Republic of Sheffield.

  3. I find DB’s Home Secretaryship hard to understand and I wonder if, and hope that, he has some knowledge denied to me to justify what he is doing, but – especially after the Iraq intelligence business – I doubt it. But I certainly do not regard his kindnesses, as we so far know them, in relation to Kimberley and her nanny, are sacking offences. It seems to me that on this occasion an apology and forgiveness would befit both the peccadillo and oir democracy.

  4. Brian says:

    Actually, I’m beginning to think that the affair of the railway warrant passed on to the mistress when it should have been reserved for a spouse might be a sackable offence, even if the speeded visa isn’t. Other public servants who misuse £180 of public money in that way are liable not only to lose their jobs but to find themselves in the dock as well.

    Incidentally, what were the parliamentary authorities doing issuing a spouse’s travel warrant to an MP who doesn’t have a spouse? Doesn’t sound to me as if these matters are adequately controlled and supervised.

    10 Dec 04