Dead Men Left

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Good riddance: Blunkett's hubris

Of all the many irritating features of Blunkett's existence, his prolier-than-thou attitude acted as a particularly unpleasant garnish on the warmed over reactionary bile the man subsisted on. All those who suggested, say, detentions without trial, the casual removal of due process, secret evidence, some incidental stoking up of racist bigotry - for example - were perhaps not the ideal policies for a "progressive, reforming Labour government" to be pursuing were, for Blunkett, "soft", "whining maniacs", "bleeding-heart liberals":in short, the run of Littlejohn soubriquets, delivered with the appropriate macho burr as if the very Voice of the Proletariat was speaking through Blunkett's slender frame. (And no doubt Blunkett's own - admirable, if we are honest - struggles against his disability inspired a certain respect.)

Perhaps the true Guardianistas who cluck and squawk around the Blair government were taken in by this Sheffield poseur, envisaging Blunkett as something akin to the star turn in Brassed Off, or The Full Monty: lost in a liberal haze brought on by a vague memory of Alan Bennet plays on Radio 4, and all those sentimental potrayals of the Northern English working class as brutes, excessively blunt, often dour, but basically "decent"; and so every further reactionary turn in Blunkett's drive to the right was nodded through as necessary appeasement for Labour's own heart of darkness in the Northern cities.

How delightful, then, to discover Blunkett's private life bears more relation to breezy cavortings of Hello! magazine: the wealthy publisher, the nanny, the socialite, assorted millionaires. The marvellous hypocrisy of it all.

Better yet, he combined this hypocrisy with a sheer, breathtaking arrogance. There can be little sympathy for the ex-Home Secretary's conduct regarding Kimberley Quinn. One psedonymous legal commentator put the case - with some irony - for Blunkett's arrest:

Reports say that Blunkett is alleged to have sent Mrs Quinn as many as 10 letters from his lawyers demanding DNA tests to establish whether he is the father of her unborn baby.

He is said to have repeatedly written to her detailing the times and locations of their meetings during the affair, endlessly repeating the list and causing enormous hurt to her and her husband.

Friends are deeply concerned for the health of Mrs Quinn, who is several months pregnant, and warn that Blunkett’s barrage of letters is putting her under a huge strain.

Her friends state Blunkett bombarded her with late night phone calls. “She is very afraid of him. She finds him very bullying and overpowering,” they say.

The prosecution do not have to prove very much to secure a conviction [for harassment]. In the case of Kelly v DPP it was held that three telephone calls within five minutes were capable of constituting the course of conduct for harassment.

I am of the opinion that the prosecution have a very good case if they felt so inclined to pursue this matter.

Who, we might add, leaked the story of their affair initially? Fingers are pointing at Blunkett, or perhaps one of his dutiful public servants: a cunning ruse to put pressure on Ms Quinn. Some of the usual suspects are attempting, this morning, to stir up sympathy for the man; more surprising is the Guardian's view of the matter. "Love"? Arrogance, more like; the sheer unstoppable belief that it is possible to get away with anything. The same factor that appears to have driven his decision to criticise, in forthright terms, his Cabinet colleagues: with Blair behind him, with the Tories and his own party cowed, Blunkett appears to have felt he could say whatever he liked, to whoever he liked, whenever he liked. The combination of both proved deadly, but it is Blunkett's own hubris that has led him to his political death.

Still, it is hard not to feel some concern for the personal tragedies involved here. Blunkett is undoubtedly sincere, as he told us in his resignation statement, in his desire to see his son. Yet Blunkett himself has casually inflicted far greater personal tragedies: his own woes are as nothing copared to those of this innocent man, facing indefinite detention in Guantanamo Bay as result of Blunkett's office. It is very difficult, once that is recalled, to allow Blunkett his appeal for public sympathy. He has displayed none, at any point, for his victims.

(One final point: those notoriously namby-pamby Law Lords have overturned another of Blunkett's breathtakingly Draconian measures, arguing that the detention of "terror suspects" without trial acts against European human rights law. "Experts said today's decision would probably force the government to repeal the section of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 which has permitted the indefinite detention of foreigners." Blunkett's awful legacy crumbling before us; if we can just stop ID cards, I think we'll be getting somewhere.)