Blunkett’s kiss and tell

The Spectator’s leading article in the copy out today claims that Mr Blunkett is responsible for the latest media frenzy and intrusion into the privacy of his lover’s family life. The debate seems to swing between those in support of the Home Secretary and others in support of his lover and her family – leaving open to question the matter of responsibility at the root of this relationship leading to the chain of events sparking the current saga.

The feature argues that the escalation of this media intrusion and high profile spat is a sure sign of degeneracy.

Click here for piece

Postscript: The answer may lie here – Peter Oborne. Agree with you mate for once – “only the eternal truths will save them: …above all Christian love”. For how else can we reconcile the ambiguities of our time? Criticise the speck in someone else’s eye only to forget the plank in our own? Eternal truths: beauty, love and faith. The ability to look above + beyond and consider the raw beauty of sunset skies, mountain streams, horizons beyond. No words – for seasonal peace, love and goodwill – just silence, as the Archbishop of Canterbury would wisely counsel (and he so brilliantly and stupendously did on Dec 6 Parliamentary Carol Service at Lambeth Palace ~ Blunkett was there an’ all would you believe, gave him a strong comforting squirmy word in support)

Peter Oborne piece here.

[just blog webmaster’s views btw for now of course…filling in while megaboss really prepares to hone his blogging skills – still a new boy at this game. How about this resolution for 2005 – full of pep ‘Blogging Johnson’?]


Spectator Editorial:

There is no prize for predicting the two least exciting political events of 2005: the publication of Sir Alan Budd’s inquiry into David Blunkett’s alleged ‘fast-tracking’ of a visa application for his former lover’s nanny, and the conclusion of Sir Philip Mawer’s investigation into the Home Secretary’s misuse of a first-class Parliamentary rail warrant to speed his mistress to his Derbyshire weekend home. Unless Mr Blunkett has already resigned these investigations – which needless to say will cost taxpayers vastly more than the railway tickets in question – are no more likely to assassinate him than Lords Hutton and Butler finished off the ministers involved in their respective inquiries.

Clearly, The Spectator has an interest to declare in the Blunkett affair. As is well known, Kimberly Quinn, Mr Blunkett’s former lover, is the magazine’s publisher. But we are confident that most impartial observers would agree with us that the Home Secretary’s alleged misuses of his position amount to little. There is no suggestion that Leoncia Casalme, Mrs Quinn’s Filipina nanny, was an improper person to enter the country; the issue is whether, with a little help from Mr Blunkett with her paperwork, she was able to achieve permanent residency in Britain a little sooner than she would otherwise have been able to do. As for Mr Blunkett’s use of the rail warrant — which he has admitted was wrong, and the cost of which he has already repaid — his offence was to stretch the rules governing one of many absurdly generous MPs’ perks. According to the rules, MPs are entitled to confer free rail tickets upon spouses, partners and homosexual lovers. It is clear that Mr Blunkett did count Mrs Quinn as his partner; the complication is that in being a married woman she officially counted as someone else’s partner.

While excusing the Home Secretary on these matters, we do have grave doubts about his conduct in certain other respects, not least the ruthless manner in which he decided to kiss and tell. That David Blunkett is responsible for broadcasting the details of his affair to the world there can be little doubt. Tabloids cannot publish kiss and tell stories without the co-operation of one of the parties involved, and any analysis of the quotes contained within the original story published in the News of the World in August must confirm that in this case it was Mr Blunkett who co-operated. The situation is this: he had an affair with a married woman and fathered her child. When she decided to remain with her husband, Mr Blunkett reacted like a teenage girl who finds the object of her desires wrapped around somebody else at the school bus shelter. He is an adult, and one of the most powerful politicians in the land, and yet he went bleating to the tabloid newspapers with the sole object of shocking and humiliating his lover’s husband, and destroying her marriage. After years of sucking up to the tabloid media, notably by introducing a series of illiberal Home Office measures, he was able to deploy them as weapons of revenge in his deluded amatory campaign. It is a contemptible way to behave.

Such conduct seriously undermines the position of a Cabinet minister who is responsible for the law on privacy issues. How can he, or anyone else, call for restraint on the part of the tabloids, when he has blatantly blabbed? He has violated his own privacy, and violated the public’s right to be protected from the details of his private life. And above all this man – who swears that the state will not abuse ID cards – has violated the privacy of his former lover, her husband and her children. From now on the redtops will nose around our lives with utter impunity, confident that it will be impossible for the present Home Secretary to do anything to rein them in.

It is no consolation that the tabloids have this week turned against the Home Secretary, and that his former allies at the Daily Mail have decided that they can no longer go easy on him, given the ammunition they are being handed by the supporters of his former lover. He should have known that this would be the outcome. He should have known, like the frog stung by the scorpion in Aesop’s fable, that this was the nature of the beast. By going public twice – once in revealing the affair, and once in filing his paternity claim – he has initiated a dreadful first world war-style shelling match between himself and the supporters of Kimberly Quinn, which the rest of the world can only watch in stupefied horror. Iraq is in chaos, Gordon Brown’s economy is on the slide, the housing market is faltering, and yet the British public is engrossed in a public dispute about the disintegration of a love affair, a dispute that could have remained private had Mr Blunkett acted with decency and common sense.

The wider world already thinks we are mad, as a nation, to put up with our tabloids’ disgusting intrusions into privacy; that these intrusions should be abetted by the Home Secretary is a sign of degeneracy.

54 thoughts on “Blunkett’s kiss and tell”

  1. It’s an artifact – I think – of pasting in text from Word or similar. There’s an online tool that will happily clean up such text and replace dodgy characters with HTML entities at, I think, Malevolent Design.

  2. the coding’s fine; to display the en rules and apostrophes correctly, you might need to change your browser’s settings so that it can recognise unicode

  3. I agree, Melissa, the Peter Oborne piece is very good. But wasn’t Boris taking a sly kick at Blunkett with the Salieri-Smith piece last week? I thought so.

    *He* seemed to be saying “OK I had a cosh and knife in my briefcase, but after all I don’t belong to *that* class and I’m not of Arab appearance.”

    Hmmm…….

    On “class”, see here:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/12/03/nsesh03.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/12/03/ixhome.html

    And on race … well, as one of our most intelligent security writers, Bruce Schneier, says:

    quote …

    If policemen fall back on naive profiling by race, ethnicity, age, gender — characteristics not relevant to security — they’re little better than a computer. Instead of “driving while black,” the police will face accusations of harassing people for the infraction of “flying while Arab.”

    … end quote

    http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2004/11/profile_hinky.html

    I don’t want to be politically correct, but he has a point.

    In any case, if the policeman was heavy-handed – and we have no independent testimony on that – he surely hadn’t made phone call to David Blunkett first to ask, “Would you like me to be heavy-handed” with Mr Salieri-Smith?”

    So what’s it got to do with Blunkett? Crikey, why doesn’t Boris kick his guide dog, too?

    However, I suspect David Blunkett is not in a mood for Peter Oborne’s Christian _agape_. He may be in the wrong but he’s old, lonely and feeling betrayed. I think old-fashioned Pagan revenge would suit him better.

  4. Good lot of bedtime reading, Michael! Thanks for the Salieri-Smith recommendation – it provoked an interesting reaction – thinking of the wily Salieri two centuries ago (the musician in Vienna in the 1790s who Mozart accused of plagiarism and of attempting to murder him with poison. Mozart’s music became more popular over the decades and Salieri’s music was forgotten, so that Mozart’s unsubstantiated allegations gained credence and tarnished Salieri’s reputation…)

    Can’t help but think you have a point about the lone prospect for Blunkett – I could understand his instinct for revenge. OTOH he is also bound to hope ‘his dog will have his day’ and feel optimistic about better days to come

  5. Brilliant Spectator editorial, as was Matthew Parris’s column. As for Blunkett, his win in court may be remembered as the point he won the battle and lost the war. What woman in his constituency will vote for him when he continues to harass Kimberly and her family, particularly at this point in her pregnancy? No one wants a passive-aggressive MP, especially as Home Secretary.

    And on an entirely different subject, may I be the first to congratulate Boris on winning the Foot in Mouth Award from the Plain English Campaign. http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/footinmouth.html

  6. Heard something on Radio 4’s new series, ‘Heresy’, last night (Thursday) which made me chuckle; one member of the panel (it is a discussion show) commented upon the subject “You put Kimberley and David next to one another, then tell me who you think is blind?”

    Or of course, the following quote from a BBC News Online article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4065177.stm), of his winning the right to visit the child (known only as ‘A’), also jumped out at me; “I still hope this may be possible as I have not seen (A) since August.”
    Seen…

  7. Ach, Melissa

    Once at a social gathering, Gladstone said to Disraeli, ” I predict, Sir, that you will die either by hanging or of some vile disease”.

    Disraeli replied, “That all depends, Sir, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress”.

    Jozef

  8. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t vote in the last election as I view/ed politicians on all sides “all the bloody same”. I have memories of Tory sleaze, Labour sleaze and my conclusion remains the same. When politicians aren’t trying to destroy they rivals in other parties, they are trying to destroy rivals in their own.
    Are Tory memories so short as to forget Iain Duncan Smith’s wife Betsy’s saga involving taxpayer

  9. Aaron and Jozef – priceless quotes! loved them

    Maybe we should have an “outstanding and sparkling quotes” section on this site; you would qualify as eminent contributors…

  10. Goodness, I go away for a week and I miss thousands* of posts!
    Will try and catch up, honest…
    -pete

    *- This may be a small exaggeration…

  11. Greetings again Melissa

    As Freud was born only a stone throw away from the Morava River, the river of my escape, I am inclined to collect any cheekish throw away lines. However, as this blog illustrates so well … there is so much more between the lines (smile)

    Men are all either dates, potential dates, or date substitutes.
    -Whit Stillman, screenplay for Metropolitan

  12. > Thanks for the Salieri-Smith recommendation

    Er, yeah. My mind must be playing tricks, or I’d had one too many: it was Samengo-Turner, I’m sure.

    Yes, don’t we all understand revenge – unfortunately?

    But on a lighter note, I have to admit to being amused by a pocket cartoon in the Daily Telegraph that shows two civil servants in the Home Office fretting over who was responsible for “the leak” (I’m afraid we know that now) while outside the window a lorry bearing the logo “Luxury Dog Biscuits” passes.

    He’d be even smarter than Red from Battersea Dogs Home. 🙂

  13. Michael

    It might sound OTT, but it strikes me that you are a very *clever* blogger (‘on-the-button-blogger’, ‘bright-blogger’ or maybe BBB for ‘bright-brainy-blogger’) Some people just seem to have a spellbinding magnetic knack of sorts.

    I wonder whether you have your own gem blog website?

  14. “only the eternal truths will save them: …above all Christian love”

    That is a really great quote, I agree whole heartedly, things are so strange now, because we as a society are in such strange times, and the best way to face the world is with that as a Constant. It should be the corner stone of our society…

  15. I have already suggested in Another Place that someone should lay an aniseed trail (as favoured by hunt saboteurs) up and down Whitehall for when Mr Blunkett and dog turn up for work in the morning – with hilarious results.

    Boris, old chap, you’ve got a bike at which you are rather adept at riding with one hand – as proven in today’s Times – so I’ve volunteered you.

    Get out there and DO YOUR DUTY! It’s for the good of the nation, and a cheap laugh into the bargain.

  16. I hope that this circus surrounding the home secretary does not distract the general public from the real issues; Crime, immigration, demographics and civil liberties.

    Blunkett may be a good man with a remarkable past, but he is an awful home secretary by virtually every measure. This is why he should be sacked. The whole ‘ministerial conduct’ debate is a smokescreen.

  17. > I wonder whether you have your own gem blog website?

    No, I haven’t, Melissa. I did make an attempt once, but I doubt it ever got much traffic. It’s nice to see Boris’s does anyway.

  18. Boris Johnson and Ian Hislop has to get together and write a sit com About The Loves And Lifes Of A Home Sec. Or should that be Home Sexretary.

    I’m now off to write something far more consrutive.

  19. Hey, saw the Home Sec tonight – he was on fantastic form!

    Told him I was fully behind him as was my colleague in the Spec. He said: “That’s good, I’m glad someone is behind me!”. He was such a sweetie and I’d gobble him up any day! sorry, that should have read: “He was so admirable, I would hold him up as the most exemplary in parliamentary life any day!”

  20. That’s a rather ‘arty’ picture of you on the top left Borris. Kind of a cross between Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ and a constipated man sitting on the toilet. Why the long face? :-p

  21. Evelyn Waugh could not have written a better pice about a HS in many a year. Then this amble though the dark corners of White Hall. May be it could be written from the point of view of the HS’s dog. May be – but then the dog may have a more poetic input and a more lucid mind then many of us.

  22. Melissa must know something that the rest of the the prurient media doesn’t – about Blunkett planting both stories himself.

    Personally I think if you have sex with someone and you get pregnant you should both face up to your responsibilities. Which appears to be what Blunkett is doing but not Mrs Quinn. She appears to be pretending the consequences of her relationship with Blunkett are of no relevance either to Blunkett himself nor to the child that is apparently the ‘fruit of their loins’. Poor thing. However, the main thing right now is that the wrangling over the poor boy stops and I think the power to effect that lies with Mrs Quinn. By obstructing Blunkett’s attempts to maintain contact with his (alleged) son – which is a perfectly reasonable and responsible thing to do – she is in fact risking her son’s wellbeing, and possibly his relationship with his biological father (which may come back to haunt her in years to come).

    None of it is pretty; none of it should be for public consumption. The nanny’s visa thing – well why can’t everyone shut up til the inquiry has concluded? Heavens, isn’t there anything else happening in the world??

  23. Hi Tasha

    You are quite a voice of reason in a time of uncertainty and confusion. All you say makes such obvious perfect sense and should lead to the path of harmony.

    As for Nick (Plymouthblog maestro)- as previously mentioned you know you are my favourite *cheery blogger* – what would the world be like without a good tease and sense of humour?!

  24. I think the papers obsessions with the sex lives of our public figures is, quite frankly, boring. I really don’t care who’s had sex with who, so long as it’s legal and between consenting adults then it’s fine by me.

    The other issue of the nannies visa is a tricky one. After all who among us has never taken advantage of any privileges in our workplace? I know I have. But then we would probably get the sack if found out, so maybe he deserves it. IF (and it’s a big IF) it can be proven that he did take advantage then he should probably get the sack too. But that cannot be decided by us on account of what we read in the press, only by the inquiry.

    Phew, that was long winded. Let’s get back to politics eh?

  25. I’ve just worked out what all those chairs around Boris are. It’s for members of his cabinet when he wins the ’09 or ’10 Genral election for the tory party. The next decade may well be a blue and blond one.

  26. Nick, you’ve bowled me over in one as usual –

    you rock in a big way!

    Just stay connected to the issues and it will surely be a bluer and blonder future than ever …

    From 05 we must target the issues that will really turn the electorate over to consider voting again: “The facts of life are Conservative” “set the people free” – any other good slogans for the General Election? will really have to ask bloggers and people out there about their views.

    Tech Chief Tim Ireland called in today – he thinks that blogsites will have a major say in elections in the future – but how can we engage the electorate? how can we ask the electorate questions and gain their significant feedback? these are massive questions we must pose, not only to Henley constituents but the nation at large.

    ps the blogging boss Tim taught me how to upload photos so must get out there and take some surreptitious photos of “in the shadow of Boris” type pics to post here… until one day he might pick up this daunting means of communication – that all too easily becomes second nature

    (ps wifey – got your photo waiting to send upon receipt of your scrumptious book – just haven’t received it yet. Didn’t want to sound ungrateful)

    Here, in the shadow of the mighty Boris…

  27. Haven’t got it yet? that’s wierd. I’ll chase it up. It was sent ages ago. mayne the westminster post have quarantined it 😉

  28. Tell you what Melissa – Nicey and I are going to be in Waterstones in Piccadilly Thurs evening 6-9 – why don’t you pop along if you’re frre and you can get it in person? We’ll be serving free tea and biscuits to all the poor christmas shoppers and signing books…

  29. “From 05 we must target the issues that will really turn the electorate over to consider voting again: “The facts of life are Conservative” “set the people free” – any other good slogans for the General Election? will really have to ask bloggers and people out there about their views.”

    I’m not sure that it’s so much the issues themselves and the catchy slogans that we need to be focusing on – it’s a more effective way of spreading the message, and in a much more simplified manner which is key. It’s all very well outlining ideas on sites such as this one, but at the end of the day, anyone on a site like this is likely to vote anyway.

  30. “I’ve just worked out what all those chairs around Boris are. It’s for members of his cabinet when he wins the ’09 or ’10 Genral election for the tory party. The next decade may well be a blue and blond one.”

    But … Boris? Surely with his almighty intelligence and sharp wit he wouldn’t need a cabinet? Hell, let’s just return to monarchical rule (no idea if that’s the right word – it’s too early for me) and make Boris king!

  31. Wifey and Nicey

    You’re stars in the making, indisputably!
    (just sad can’t be there at that time – you coming again for an encore another day? please do! would love to cheer you from the wings – bravo!)in the meantime will see if I can find this parcel – obviously got squirreled away by someone just too tempted by the most irresistable nice sit down and cup of tea and biscuits…the little mischief makers, must find them. Will let you know if am successful in my hunt

  32. Aaron

    >it’s a more effective way of spreading the message, and in a much more simplified manner which is key.

    Any innovatory means in mind? (I know you’re the whizziest young tech mind around) Once the message is crystalised then we can move on to simplification and means…we’ve got to get cracking

  33. It’s too early to think that much, so all that really comes to mind right now is that we have to recognise that a lot of party ‘propaganda’ is only distributed in a way that people who are going to vote anyway would access. (Ok, so this is useful as far as persuading people to vote Conservative and not Labour or Lib Dem goes, but we need to widen how the message is spread.)
    Take Party Political Broadcasts on TV as an example – for the most part, these will be found just before or after a news programme, and just aren’t simplified enough. They need to be a lot jargon-free, and a lot more spread around prime-time shows with a wider audience – The Simpsons on Channel 4, Eastenders, Coronation Street and so on. I know that to some extent this does happen, but from what I’ve seen, it’s still just not enough.

  34. Melissa – put another one in the post, should be there tomorrow. Can you email me when you get it then I’ll know? Honestly, if you can’t trust the people in westminster who can you trust..

    I didn’t expect you’d be free tomorrow, being such a busy person, maybe some other time..

  35. If the Tories were real conservatives, and not just ‘neo liberals’ then they would make a big issue about ‘moral decadence’, highlight the grotesque number of annual abortions (about 150,000), the disintegration of the family (X percent of children live outside conventional family unit).

    They would then skillfully weld these issues in with Britains imploding population, out of control immigration, and non assimilative / tribalistic muslims (indigenous UK population is dying off. Britain will have A MAJORITY ISLAMIC POPULATION BY 2100 – the Tories could make election winning political capital by taking a hardline on this polarizing issue).

    The BEST question that Michael Howard could possibly ask Tony Blair in PMQ’s would be.

    “With over 150,000 abortions per year, and the decay of family values, Britains population has begun to shrink. This combined with ‘out of control’ immigration, and a highly fertile, non assimilative Islamic community, means that, according to Demographic statistics, the indigenous postwar British people will be an ethnic minority by the year 2100. DOES THE PRIME MINISTER SEE ANYTHING INTRINSICALLY WRONG WITH BRITAIN BECOMING A MAJORITY ISLAMIC COUNTRY?”

    This would be dynamite. Blair would either be forced to say YES (which he certainly would not, as he wouldn’t want to alienate islamic voters) or NO (he would probably say yes, prompting a huge national backlash and a Tory landslide election victory).

  36. Make that, he would probably say NO (ie there is nothing wrong with Britian becoming an Islamic country, typical left lunacy) prompting a national backlash against the liberal elites and a Tory landslide victory.

    I don’t know why the tories never play on this issue. It’s not only an election winner, it also happens to be the most important single issue facing our country since WW2.

  37. Erm. Is it realistic to extrapolate current birth and death rates at current values over 96 years into the future, do you think? And if it is, why is it such a big deal if Britain has a majority of Muslims in 96 years time? I don’t think true conservatism has anything to say about ethnic makeup, conservatism is about the freedom of the individual to choose how to live their life, including faith. Nationalism is about ethnic makeup, and fortunately the Tories are not the BNP.

  38. “why is it such a big deal if Britain has a majority of Muslims in 96 years time”

    I think you’ll find that about 90% of the British people would disagree with your naieve assertion that this is ‘not a big deal’.

    “conservatism is about the freedom of the individual to choose how to live their life”

    No, that’s liberalism. Conservatism is about pragmatism and respect for the established order which has formed over many generations. I would recommend that you read:

    The CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS AND THE REMAKING OF WORLD ORDER by Samuel P. Huntington.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0684844419/qid=1102512704/sr=2-2/ref=pd_ka_b_2_2/102-8152362-8850534

    The Meaning of Conservatism, by Roger Scruton

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/189031840X/qid=1102512758/sr=1-5/ref=sr_1_5/102-8152362-8850534?v=glance&s=books

    The West and the Rest, by Roger Scruton

    and http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/189031840X/qid=1102512758/sr=1-5/ref=sr_1_5/102-8152362-8850534?v=glance&s=books

    to learn of the incompatibility of Western and Islamic cultures.

    “and fortunately the Tories are not the BNP”

    I resent your reference to the BNP. Expressing concern about the Islamification of Europe, and it’s consequences does not make you a National Socialist.

    Boris will be familiar with a recent article in the spectator by Anthony Browne which expressed similar concerns. I challenge you to read it and still maintain that Britain becoming Islamic by 2100 is “Not a big deal”. Here is a link to it:

    http://www.harrysnews.com/tgTriumphOfTheEast.htm

  39. Well I personally have better things to worry about than whether or not Britain will be Islamic in 2100. Race and religion are not an issue to me and never will be. Guess I must be one of the 10% who agrees with Phil.

  40. I’m inclined to agree with B-M on this – a hell of a lot of people definitely WOULD be bothered at the thought of an Islamic majority. That’s not to say I necessarily agree nor disagree with the view of that majority, but it’s still an issue that we have to take into consideration.

  41. I was raised in Northern Ireland where the Protestent majority spend a lot of time worrying about the fact that the Catholics tend to have bigger families and will take over. Ian Paisley preaches to his legions begging them to get out and breed to stop this.
    I worry that this conversation is going down those lines where all the christians will be encouraged to breed more to stop the infadel’s taking over.

    *shudders*

  42. All this talk about islam is a bit daft. After all last year the Spectator put out an article claiming that the EU was a ploy to drag us all back in to the folds of the Popes robes. Now it’s one or the other. I wish people would make their dam minds up!!

  43. Well said Tasha – I notice in the first article that (a) there’s no proof anywhere that Blunkett has actually been speaking to the press and (b) no mention that even if he has, his reason for doing so is to gain access to his son and, as you say, to take responsibility for him!

    The writer of the article seems to think running for cover as soon as the story came out, abandoning his biological son, would have been a better option – which says a great deal about said writer’s morality…

  44. Definitely think Boris should blog.

    Ten minutes a day, while drinking the bedtime cocoa, would be a jolly good start.

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