Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Legacy of Blunkett

Ex-Home Secretary David Blunkett has been criticised by the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee for giving a free rail ticket intended for MPs' spouses to his ex-lover Kimberly Quinn. He has already apologised for making a 'genuine mistake' and has paid back the necessary cost. A quick slap on the wrists for Mr. Blunkett by the Committee, who say he should have known the rules.

In a Home Office inquiry into whether Mr. Blunkett fast-tracked a visa application for his lover's nanny, a 'chain of events' is found linking him to the speed-up of the application, but insists there was no cover-up. The inquiry was "unable to determine whether Mr. Blunkett gave any instructions in relation to the case".

So it's a mild schoolboy's telling-off and a reserved, uncertain kind of castigation for the man who lost his job for love.

Despite a somewhat undignified portrayal of himself as the victim in this whole saga (partially true) David Blunkett deserves some praise for his quick and unfussy resignation. I believe a lesser Cabinet minister would not have gone so speedily, and would have held on to the bitter end - the ultimate shame, surely. (It is a sad reflection on British politics that there are so many in Parliament and in the Government who would take the shameful, undignified option!)

David Blunkett has had a tough time during his years as a Cabinet minister. In education, he failed to live up to Tony Blair's bland promise of 'education, education, education'. And at the Home Office, despite his tough talk on crime and terrorism, he failed to match his words with actions.

Blunkett lost the Left with his intention to take the harsh approach, and the Right with his failure to take the harsh approach. He lost friends in Cabinet over the whole mess as well, what with the destructive comments he made about his colleagues to his biographer only recently.

Some say that they believe he should be back in the Cabinet at the very earliest.

I myself do not. He has been a consistently poor Education Secretary and Home Secretary. He was once renowned for being a fiery socialist and is now renowned for talking like a fiery conservative.

A populist talker, but a weak performer - that will be his legacy. But I'm sure he is to be congratulated for giving up his job in the manner he did: a rare example of dignity and honour in a politician.


At 6:52 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

by james o'donovan. Mark an interesting view however surly blunkett a man whom the public thought of as a respectable gentleman should not have put himself in this awrkward situation (excuse the pun) however he should have been able to see the consequences of his actions.

At 7:00 pm, Blogger Mark O'Brien said...

It's absolutely true that he should have realized his actions had consequences. But I think the case against him isn't so much the affair or the rail ticket he gave to his lover or even whether he speeded up the nanny's visa application. The fact is that he just was never a very good Home Secretary. People might forget that when all this is finished.

At 1:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mark you make a good point that blunkett never was a brilliant home secutary yet I do feel you have underestimated the fact that the major reson why he resignd was that of the visa fastracking for his lovers nanny. He acted highly irresponsibly and we really do need to asses other members of parliment that may be using thier power for poor and bad reasons. james


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