Blunkett Resignation rules the airwaves

Looks like Blunkett’s new book/biography will make interesting reading judging by Boris Johnson’s conclusions in his column this week:

It wasn’t Nannygate: it was telling the truth about Labour

My mobile has been throbbing for the past hour with calls from the nice telly people wanting me to go on and gloat about the extinction of David Blunkett, and for the past hour I have been sitting here trying to work up some enthusiasm.

I wish I could feel more happiness, somehow, in this news. I am a Tory MP. I am supposed to rejoice. There he is, one of Blair’s key lieutenants, banjaxed by events. I should be capering around the room and pant-hooting like a gibbon, and yet I can’t help wondering whether I am alone in feeling melancholy at the ruin of Blunkett.

Whatever you think of his conduct of the Home Office – and I am not a fan – it is astonishing that a blind man could begin to manage a job like that. Whatever you think of his prosecution of his own militia amoris – and, again, I have my views – he is plainly, like Othello, a man who loved not wisely, but too well, and one whose eyes, albeit unused to the melting mood, could be seen on Channel 4 News last night dropping tears as fast as the Arabian trees their medicinal gum.

He is deserving of, and will receive, a great deal of sympathy over the next few days. But since this column is also famously a place of ruthless analysis, I will overcome my gloom, and tell you exactly why David Blunkett left office last night, and it certainly wasn’t for the reason officially given out.


Something has changed in the past few days, a change that made his survival impossible. It was only last week that Tony Blair threw himself bodily in front of his ally. With his customary lip-quiver and chin-clench, Blair announced that Blunkett “has been and will continue to be a first-class Home Secretary”.

When he made that announcement, Blair presumably did not mean that Blunkett would continue to do his first-class job until Wednesday evening, whereupon he would draft a truly top-hole letter of resignation. Blair must have thought that Blunko would make it through to Christmas, whereupon everybody would forget the detail in a haze of mulled wine, and the Home Secretary would be home-free.

So what was the trigger that blew him away? Let us discount some of the smaller peccadilloes, such as sending the police round to stop the small boys playing knock-down ginger at his lover’s door, or the allegation that he tipped her off about a security alert at Newark airport. You or I might think it a bit off for the Home Secretary to have used his office in that way, but no doubt Sir Alan Budd would have found a means to exonerate him.

The same point could be made about the misallocation of the £180 rail vouchers: a fatal error for someone else, but probably survivable for a soul as generous as Blunkett’s, not least since the small print on the vouchers may not have been in Braille.

There are many who believe that he deserved to go for the so-called fast-tracking of the nanny’s visa, and it does on the face of it look like ministerial abuse; but, again, the Budd inquiry might well have magicked away the offence, and the most important point is that Blair was himself confident that he would be cleared.

Otherwise the Prime Minister would not have dreamt of giving the supportive statement he gave last week, when the salient facts were already obvious. No, whatever they tell us today, it wasn’t really Nannygate that did for Blunkett. There are some who say that he should have gone because he seemed to have flipped his lid, and was persecuting his former lover, in public, through the courts, when she had told him that she did not want to leave her husband.

There are those who say – and I tend to agree – that he seemed to be using the paternity of the children as a tool, not only to vindicate his “right” to see them, but also to get at his former lover and to attack her marriage.

There are those of us who think that his gravest crime was to spill the beans about the affair to the tabloid papers; and there seems little doubt that Blunkett or those close to Blunkett spoke to the News of the World, because Blunkett knew that the emerging story would so shock and humiliate Stephen Quinn that his rival might depart the field, and he would be able to claim Kimberly as his own.

In a nutshell, Blunkett kissed and told (was it not curious that the story should blow in that way, days after Kimberly dumped him?) and for that reason alone, it seems to me, he should have gone.

But not everyone sees it like that, to put it mildly. For many people he is a poor dupe, who has lost in the brutal game of love, and just wants to see his children. There are certainly enough people out there who see it like that – or so the polls suggest – to mean that those could not conceivably have been grounds for dismissal. Indeed, Blair made it clear that he didn’t give a monkey’s about the affair, or any of its ramifications.

So what was it, then, that did for Blunkett? My friends, David Blunkett did something far worse than fathering two children with a married woman, or fast-tracking her nanny’s visa. He did the one thing that a prime minister can never forgive: Blunkett told the truth about the Labour Government. He said that Jack Straw had left the Home Office a giant mess, and wasted four years, and that Michael Howard had been more effective as home secretary. He said that Charles Clarke was “soft” on standards in schools, and that Gordon Brown was a bully, and he was none too kind about Tessa Jowell.

In short he told the nation that his dog, Sadie, could do a better job than most Labour cabinet ministers. He was dead right, and for that reason, he had to go.

44 thoughts on “Blunkett Resignation rules the airwaves”

  1. Wifey

    I can immediately associate with the cartoon and Blunkett going to hell/Hull…but by the grace of God so do I. The answer is easy: Just “sing of the Lord’s great love for ever” Psalm 89

  2. Because this morning I’m feeling crass and down market,and because I watched for some reason ‘Bring It On,’ on Channel Four on sunday. I’m going to pull on a skimpy cheerleading outfit and wave my pom-poms at every body on this web site while affecting a very South Cal valley Girl accent:

    All right you lot follow me:

    give us a B-L-U-N-K-E-T-T.

    GONE GONE GONE

    B-L-U-N-K-E-T-T.

    VISA VISA VISA.

    B-L-U-N etc etc.

    LOSER LOSER LOSER.

    YEA YEA YEAHHHHHHHHHH.

  3. I wonder if the national ID card will lose momentum now, or if Charles Clarke will have us all tatooed with barcodes by next Christmas? 😉

  4. Who gives a rat’s arse if blunkett is no more, there was much more devastating news today….
    Andy Bell of Erasure as annouced he is HIV Positive

  5. To the tune of Mickey:

    Blunkett –
    You’re so fired – your’re so fired
    Blunkett –

    *

    Of course the question is: does he need a visa top leave?

  6. Now, now Boris. An excellent post again ruined by one little flawed argument:

    “David Blunkett did something far worse than fathering two children with a married woman, or fast-tracking her nanny’s visa. He did the one thing that a prime minister can never forgive: Blunkett told the truth about the Labour Government.”

    This view is somewhat inconsistent with the fact that after the revelations of the biography came out Blair tried to keep him on by insisting that he patch things up with his cabinet colleagues, but that he was forced to resign after some emails came to light in the nanny affair.

    The bottom line is that “we” would forgive his love affair, “we” would forgive him abusing his office to give his lover some minor favours, “we” would forgive him standing up for what he sees as the rights of his son and his rights as the biological father, but “we” would not forgive him lying about nannygate and getting caught out at it.

  7. Brilliant article, presenting an insightful, intelligent and balanced comment (as ever)!

    Although I’d just like to put forward my suspicion that he did not resign for any of those individual reasons – in fact, together they had kept him in the eye of the press for so long that the whole party was overshadowed, and of course looking (even more of) a joke.

  8. If Blunkett’s comments about his cabinet colleagues had been made in private, especially over one dinner with much wine, he likely would have survived them. Once Stephen Pollard said Blunkett made the comments over 18 months, knowing they would be published, it was clear Blunkett wasn’t a political “team player” – and that’s the hanging offence. It confirmed the suspicions about his behavior towards Mr and Mrs Quinn (the tabloids, the legal battles, the claims he had been misled) – everything was “all about him”, in both his public and private life. (Which explains his policies as Home Secretary, as well – no interest in the civil rights of others, just his own “security” against possible terrorists and criminals.)

  9. I l-o-v-e all your comments BLOGGERS!!

    Just filled me with wild political enthusiasm somehow – must be Christmas dottiness hitting me.

    Caught the South Valley girl pom-poms scene – and imagine them to be as blue as can be. Yes great idea – we could cultivate a massively long row of them to get people voting come election time – that would wake up the electorate

  10. Melissa – I’d be the first in line to put my vote in their er…box. Rah, Rah, Rah…Yeah…..

    Wifey – ‘Awww Nick. That’s a bit mean. Don’t you feel a tiny bit sorry for him??’

    You know wifey I have very little sympathy for old Marxist’s. But I do feel sorry for his guide dog. If that helps to make things a little better.

  11. Lori

    > I wonder if the national ID card will lose momentum now, or if Charles Clarke will have us all tatooed with barcodes by next Christmas? 😉

    I looked at your site. You seem to be a US Dem and a Grauniad reader. So what are you laying into Labour for? I don’t mind if you do … but, you must agree it’s curious.

    As for that ID card, I noticed it had the EU (eugh!) symbol on it. So I wonder if this is yet another thing in which we really haven’t got (US: don’t have) a choice. Perhaps I should write Christopher Booker and ask him. He’ll know. 😉

    All the best.

  12. > You know wifey I have very little sympathy for old Marxist’s. But I do feel sorry for his guide dog. If that helps to make things a little better.

    Then you’ll have doubts about quite a few conservative luminaries. Max Eastman for one, Eric Voegelin for another.

    Anyone can take a wrong turning – what’s the problem if they get out again?

    But I’m not too sorry to see him go. I don’t know that this is politically relevant, but I don’t care for his pursuing a vendetta against Kimberley Fortier/Quinn’s family. I think anthropologically speaking, a marriage is a social “keep out” sign on a door. He chose to ignore the “no entry” sign. Fine – but that meant when she slammed the door he could really have no complaint. Why burden the child with it all?

  13. I’d be interested to hear Boris’ comments on the new Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly. I read once that he described her as ” must be an identical twin”. She’s been an MP since ’97, given birth to 4 children since then, and seems to have made a successful career in Parliament at the same time. Quite remarkable.

  14. > You know wifey I have very little sympathy for old Marxist’s. But I do feel sorry for his guide dog. If that helps to make things a little better.

    ‘Then you’ll have doubts about quite a few conservative luminaries. Max Eastman for one, Eric Voegelin for another.’

    You mean there are Marxists in the Tory party. Boris should look in to this with his jounalistic nose…….

    Personally I wish there were more south cal cheerleaders around here – but dreams like this can only move towards disappointment. Sigh..

  15. I was wondering if Boris Johnson put out a collection of his journalism would it be called, ‘ Sketches By Bozer?.’ By Dickens that’s a great idea!

  16. All these posts are because It’s friday lunch and I’m bored. Hey Listen up people any one out there who wants to employ a writer/jounalist with not much on at the moment please feel free to give me a buzz. Can do most genres and have a solid arts background. Examples of work given on website link below – along with e-mail – more work in the archive. What more could you need for all your article needs – thanks for reading. And Boris please take note of this post.

  17. Latest surreal news:

    Yesterday late pm set off to town for weekly shop etc in the pitch dark, dank misty night feeling quite average in every way.

    Walking along, winding back to own little burrow, paused at Claire’s Accessories when what should be thrust before me in a manic hyper way but these BRIGHTEST BLUE zingy looking POM POMS! “Hey!” I thought, “hadn’t I just read about that Nick chap and his south cal pom poms and promised to do a blue version for the election in a wave of enthusiasm?” yet here they were sparkling before me? “not true!” I thought. That was the unreal blogosphere world – and no way here in deep and darkest Kent!

    Who wouldn’t wake up from a trancelike reverie with these inverted steely mops waving around with lives of their own and threatening to tickle every ounce of maladie out of you? An easy sale. “Well”, I thought, after a deep breath, “one of those moments when life IS stranger than fiction!”

    And now here they lie, in an echo of the little boy and the snowman, just a little mashed lifeless pile proving that the episode wasn’t a dream at all.

  18. latest Surreal News No 2:

    Melissa – would love it if you shook your blue zingy pom-poms any way you wish it’s not hard. And as far as the tickle goes they are better then a feather duster. Rah…Rah…oh yea…. and could be doing it all over in the festive season and beyond. Shake that pom pom get jiggy… and being that you seem to have bought some keep going and have a good Xmas….

  19. I shake my south cal pom pom things one more time and wish every one and all a good Xmas and even better new year.

    Paris or bust here I come…..

  20. ‘Nick chap and his south cal pom poms and promised to do a blue version for the election in a wave of enthusiasm?” ‘

    Mellisa well what can I say XXX

  21. I too feel sorry for Mr Blunkett and I fear for his sanity now that’s he’s lost the love of his life. And Mrs Quinn.

    After all, he’s been forced to return the ministerial guide dog and white stick, and he’s been driven potty insisting there are messages from Fidel Castro hidden in his stucco wallpaper.

    However, I would pay good money to see Boris “pant-hollering like a gibbon”. Melissa should post photos.

  22. Scary duck – great comments, thanks.

    In fact we do have one acceptable one of our Christmas lunch and another of the recent Sue Ryder event Boris hosted this week.

    I hope this will suffice as I fear it is the closest we will get to your wishes

    ….coming up within a matter of a few days

  23. Yeah – more photo’s please! I love the one you sent of Boris. I’m going to frame it and put it beside my bed (although Nicey doesn’t know that yet ;))

    I do feel sorry for Mr Blunkett too scaryduck, although he got what he deserved. I just am not comfortable with all this rubbing his nose in it..

  24. So when, oops sorry, if, Mandy messes up in Brussels and annoys Tony and Gordon a little too much, what better than a Blunkett Brussels, or is that a Brussels Blunkett?

  25. Has anyone else noticed the internecine warfare breaking out at the Spectator?

    The shrewish A. N. Other seems to have a feud going with one Bevis Hilton, who also writes there. And in the Christmas double-issue Max Hastings and Don Binliner have both got into the Christmas spirit by denouncing Mark Steyn.

    It’s a lively read in all. I noticed that Paul Johnson has dropped the whimsy and got stuck in to some serious vitriol throwing. Meanwhile, the foul-mouthed Norman Stone tells us that “you don’t p*ss the Turks off.” … and then, unaccountably, decides that you apparently *can* do so and denies that they massacred the Armenians. I guess you don’t annoy them if you have a chair at one of their universities.

    It’s only £4.95. Get a copy now. 🙂

  26. Will buy the Spectator to watch war break out – but then these days one might as well read the mag on the web. With the groovey new web design. One wonders if the fonts are going to get any smaller. In fact if the above desciption is correct Anthony Trollope could not have come up with a better plot. There’s room here for a lot of orginal thought – I seem to have lost the cheerleaders. Hmmmmmm……they might be over there!

  27. Cheerleaders coming up – O fount of original thoughts!

    Am just reading The Spectator Christmas double issue myself and thought it might be worth highlighting some interesting pieces – but working backwards (felt sure Dear Mary could have found even more riveting contributors – for instance, as last year, our own Boris himself! why not?) got just past the Taki column and some arts books reviews …

    Luv the Quentin Blake cover cartoon – he’s ace (the squished character on the right is Blunkett and the one on the left is a cheerleader from this site)!

  28. Tony has assured us that Blunkers ‘leaves office with his integrity intact.’ So that’s OK then – misuse of public funds, misuse of office, misuse of civil servants, impregnating somebody else’s wife (twice?), attacking a heavily pregnant woman in the courts,giving a factually incorrect explanation of the visa fast-tracking,hanging on to office until caught out by a paper trail, then going on telly to claim he was sacrificing his career for the sake of ‘that little lad’ (who would apparently be grateful for this in later life!) – but Tone thinks his integrity is intact. But then Tone thinks that he himself is a ‘pretty straight kinda guy’.

    Don’t you just love these New Labour redefinitions?

  29. And talking of Marys in the Spectator, what is that Mary Wakefield on? Paganism is not a polite term for witchcraft. It is the term used to designate the religious beliefs current in the Ancient World – particularly in Greece and Rome. At least that is what the term means to any educated person. I’d have thought Boris, as a classicist, would have been able to put her straight on that.

  30. Too true Mike: “Tone thinks he is a straight kinda guy” – such is his consummate skill

    What a lot has happened over the last few weeks in politics. How many more eye-popping suprises in store before the next election??? the blue pom pom Tories will score a few when the time comes – no doubt.

  31. Oh lord but I’m bored (with Blunkett).

    I’m one beer into the afternoon here so please forgive the incoherence that follows, but the really sad thing about the Blunkett resignation (it seems to me) is that he went for all the wrong reasons. I don’t CARE about impregnating someone else’s wife. I don’t CARE about the nonsense with the train ticket. I don’t CARE whether he said bad things about his cabinet colleagues (sorry Boris).

    I DO care that he was an incompetent education secretary who forced through unnecessary changes for no better reason than to show us he was there. And I DO care that he’s been a hysterical and secretive Home Secretary who seems unable to understand that saying something’s true just because the intelligence services say so just ain’t good enough for most of us. It might have been the correct way to behave in 1940 but not now. The world has changed, and government ought to have changed with it.

    OK. I admit it. I’m a bit drunk. Belgian beer will make me rant, even on a Conservative website. Happy Christmas, y’all…

  32. ‘And talking of Marys in the Spectator, what is that Mary Wakefield on about? Paganism is not a polite term for witchcraft. It is the term used to designate the religious beliefs current in the Ancient World – particularly in Greece and Rome. At least that is what the term means to any educated person. I’d have thought Boris, as a classicist, would have been able to put her straight on that.’

    Hear, hear – so that would encompass any system of belief up to whom Plutonius I would think. It’s amazing how much the fathers of the church plagiarised neo-plutonic thought. Sometimes one has to wonder if the church itself was almost pagan.

  33. Surfing for much needed inside info on the Blunkett scandal I came across this page – just what is about these oversexed people at the
    Spectator? Odone, Liddle, Johnson, Blunkett, Kimberley and now Simon Hoggart … Is it tit for tat? If it is who started it?
    Ta

  34. It’s a bit late, but Michael, I have been resident in the UK for several years, as my bio attests on Livejournal. I’m applying for citizenship this year.

  35. Lori – are you sure you really want to live here? Most of the people I know have either left or are in the process of removing themselves! And I’m heavyly thinking about going myself. 33 years in this country may have been a little to long. But then I may be a little pessimistic about the whole thing.

  36. Every place has its advantages & disadvantages, Nick. One thing I learned is that you can’t emigrate to escape your troubles–you pack them in your suitcase and they emigrate right along with you.

    I emigrated after marrying a lovely boy from Woodcote, and considering the last few years’ events, I think I won the which-of-us-moves coin toss. Besides, I moved from South Carolina. I wasn’t living anywhere glamourous that you would go to on holiday.

    FWIW the political situation back home is worse in my opinion (they’re planning on central-government biometric ID cards there soon as well, so even that advantage is going). After all, here the god-botherers aren’t running the show, and you don’t have to be middle class to be able to go see a doctor. That’s why I’m a bookseller now and not a social worker. 😉

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