Private virtues, public vices
I feel sorry for David Blunkett because of the tragedy in his personal life. But I’m delighted he’s no longer in government because he was the most authoritarian Home Secretary in living memory. Writing in the Guardian, Roy Hattersley got it about right:
“Mr Blunkett despised the ‘liberal intelligentsia’. That is a reasonable enough position if it amounts to contempt for people who support social democracy as long as they are not required to pay for it in their taxes. But Mr Blunkett went further. When I joined the Labour party, I believed that it represented the best instincts of the working class. Too often Mr Blunkett reflected and articulated its worst emotions.
That made him careless about liberty and cavalier about the rule of law, suspicious of foreigners and willing to use the authority of the state to create the sort of society – rigid and regimented – he wanted to see. His resignation will reduce Labour’s appeal to the men and women who, like him, rejoiced at the news that Harold Shipman had committed suicide. Let us hope that his successor attracts a different constituency.
David Blunkett was – and gloried in being – a hard man. That is what his personal circumstances made him. But today he deserves, whether or not he welcomes it, our sympathy. His resignation is a personal, if not a political, tragedy.”