Tuesday, November 01, 2005

 

Can Blunkett make it this time?

This time last year what was the media obsessing about? Correct, whether the much assailed Blunkett could survive. I thought he could and wagered with a mate that he would remain in office. He didn't. But maybe his vulnerability now is a result of three things:

a) he was brought back too soon- memories of his silliness with Kimberley Quinn were still too fresh in the mind in May. He should have maybe waited till now before rejoining the Cabinet.
b) 'There's no fool like an old fool' is an axiom which Blunkett has reinforced all too powerfully. Seeing two dramas recently poking cruel fun at the blind exCabinet minister was no fun for me and I doubt to very many others. But the fact that he was so in love with a woman he could not see who was exploiting his feelings so flagrantly has somehow- though it should not have done and we may feel a bit guilty for laughing- made him a figure of fun. And that is difficult basis from which to establish political authority.
c) He really does seem to have ignored the Ministers' code. Declaring interests is not voluntary it is obligatory, and should be so. To claim ignorance in one's defence might work for some people but for a Cabinet minister it elicits the retort; 'Well, you sodding well SHOULD have known about the rule'. And he was told about it in writing by Lord Mayhew shortly after he stepped down as Home Secretary.
Is all this enough to merit resignation? Hard to say. I'd say yes, just about, if one were being strict, which is what the Opposition would wish to be of course. [At least Grayling is doing his job properly as the Shadow Leader of the House.]

But I hope and indeed expect, that he'll survive this time. It would be too, too unkind to see this basically decent man have his achievments and life's work come crashing down again within twelve months. I think maybe the inquiry which the Tories are calling for might help to clear Blunkett as it seems he has done nothing legally or morally wrong- merely exercised judgement poorly. Bernard Ingham always used to say that if nothing new had happened in a scandal after nine days, it was effectively over. So far it's been a revelation a day but if they can stop for a few days or if something new can take the media's fancy, he'll pull through; but if not, not.

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