Thursday, December 16, 2004
The right thing for the wrong reason
So David Blunkett has resigned as Home Secretary. Given his illiberal impulses and authoritarian agenda, Liberals have good reason to celebrate his departure.
But Blunkett has resigned for the wrong reason. On the Richter Scale of political corruption, his misdemeanours were trivial. If the worst a British politician can do nowadays is misuse a train ticket to Doncaster, it suggests a generally high standard of probity. (In France they do things differently. When President Mitterand was accused of having a child by a mistress, his response was simply, "Et alors?").
The problem with Blunkett was his political agenda, not his sex life. His departure will not diminish New Labour's enthusiasm for ID cards, as new Home Secretary Charles Clarke has already made clear.
Indeed, Blunkett's dignity in TV interviews yesterday, combined with a generally sympathetic treatment in this morning's press, if anything makes it harder to criticise Blunkett's policies and the philosophy behind them.
We need to be wary of cheering on yesterday's events. A world in which the Daily Mail can pick off public figures one by one is every bit as unsavoury as the authoritarian society Blunkett wishes to create.
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