Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Blunkettgate: The view from EC1

First of all let me berate David Blunkett for having a surname that lends itself so poorly to having a "-gate" suffix.

Secondly, allow me to add my name to the growing list of people - both from within politics and from without - who feel the time has come for Mr Blunkett to resign with what little dignity he has left. There surely can be no doubt left in anyone's mind that this is a man who - intelligent and politically adept as he has proven himself to be - has clearly let his years as a cabinet minister go to his head. True, Blunkett's latest offence of neglecting to consult with the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments over his position as director of DNA Bioscience before the May general elections seems relatively minor, and in retrospect the appointment or the shares involved never came into direct conflict with his work at Westminster; however, it's the way in which Blunkett does precisely that - admit to his mistakes retroactively rather than prevent them while he had the chance - that makes him such a liability. It's more than a little ironic that a man so consistently careless with his own job should be made Secretary for Work and Pensions.

In spite of all this, however, the simple truth is that Blunkett is not the issue here. Whether he resigns or not is almost immaterial (and given today's backing from Number 10, it's unlikely that he will); Blunkett himself is merely a symptom of a government that has grown complacent after too long in power. I say this as someone who voted Labour at the last election and I stick by that decision.

This isn't a failure of Labour as a political ideology, it's what happens to any party when they've ruled for so long they begin to believe they are the only option. When it comes to internal Labour skirmishes, too much attention over the past few years has been given to Brown vs. Blair, at the expense of all else. It seems the last time anyone stopped to take serious stock of the abilities of a senior Labour player was when Robin Cook and Mo Mowlam died. And they weren't even in the cabinet anymore! Perhaps understandably, Blair has a history of sticking by those closest to him, defending their actions until the bitter end, whether it's Alistair Campbell or Peter Mandelson. Continuing this trend with David Blunkett, Blair runs the risk of losing a serious level of popular support from the people Labour is supposed to be reaching out to the most.

The Labour Party has clocked up some fantastic achievements over the past eight years, of which it should justifiably be proud. However, Labour also needs to be able to own up to its mistakes and repair its weaknesses instead of just denying they exist. Or else how are we expected to take it seriously about anything anymore?


At November 01, 2005 7:08 pm, Blogger Neville said...

How can you say that the present Labour government has achieved a lot?

There are a lot of things this government has done.

How about:
- being warmongers (five wars in eight years)
-privatising our public services at a greater rate than the Conservatives
-increasing racial and social intolerence in public life
-making our benefit systems more complicated (look at the Tax credit fiasco, where millions of claimants were overpaid and now face hardship as their benefits are clawed back)
-increasing stelfth taxes (eg on petrol)
-spreading selection in education so that children from poorer backgrounds (even ironically from your area) won't get to a good local school
-increased crime rates which are among the highest in Europe
-destruction of countryside life
-state interference in peoples' private lives

There are more reasons why this government has been such an utter failure, many which are too many to mention.

I suggest you look out of your rose-tinted view of Blair's Britain and search for the shocking reality.

At November 02, 2005 9:57 am, Blogger Lady M said...

Thanks for your comments, Neville. Let me reassure you that I do NOT have a "rose-tinted view" of the UK under Tony Blair, and while I do stick by my assertion that Labour has brought about some important positive changes for this country, I am also well aware of their shortcomings.

I can't say I agree with all of the things on your list (increasing racial and social intolerence in public life? sorry, but that's just not true), and as for "my area", local jobs have increased by double-digit rates since 1997 as a direct result of Labour being in power, and a hell of a lot of money has been invested to lift it from its position as one of the poorest boroughs in the country.

I don't pretend to be an expert on Britain under Labour, having only lived in it for three years myself. But if you take the time to read the entirety of my last post rather than zoom in on the one thing you disagree with, you'll see that my point was that Labour needs to stop covering up its shortcomings and be held more accountable to the public. Which is essentially what you're saying as well, n'est-ce pas?

At November 02, 2005 11:18 am, Blogger Deaglan said...


"being warmongers (five wars in eight years)"

In that I assume you are including UK troops in NATO who helped to avert a slaughter of Muslims in Kosovo then?

As far Labour's achievements (minimum wage, increased overseas aid, successful devolution etc etc.)...I'll leave them to Lady M to articulate.

Lady M,
"This isn't a failure of Labour as a political ideology..."

Quite right. They don't have one.

At November 02, 2005 2:04 pm, Anonymous pangloss said...

Add to Kosovo the intervention in Sierra Leone. Grr, evil warmongers.

As for 'destruction of countryside life'? Please Neville, if your idea of 'countryside life' is a bunch of posh twits riding roughshod over farmers' lands in the hope of smearing fox blood on their faces, I suggest you get beyond the Home Counties for a bit, or at least listen to the Archers every so often.

Daithi's gone

At November 02, 2005 2:41 pm, Blogger Lady M said...

Yes, Dafydd has left the building for the second time in 12 months. I'm not sure how he will recover after this, but given the relatively minor nature of the offence, and the public's shocking short-term collective memory, I'm sure we will be hearing from him again in a few years' time.

As an aside, the BBC website has used the same new HUGE PIC AND FONT display stylee on their front page to announce Blunkett's departure as they did when Saddam's trial began. Not sure this warrants the same "oh my god, drop everything" reaction, but there you go.

At November 02, 2005 10:04 pm, Anonymous Neville said...

Lady M:
I wasn't offending you, I was stating my opinion of life under the present government.

I don't come from the Home Counties- I'm a born and bred Londoner whose parents were born abroad. I've alwyas lived in the inner city, but sometimes go to the countryside. I just believe that present government's policies have damaged the countryside. The foxhunting ban has dominated over other issues that needed to be discussed.


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