End of an affair

IN THE end, when David Blunkett stepped down on Wednesday, he surprised no one. In fact, even those who stood by the controversial British home secretary when his explosive affair with Kimberly Fortier-Quinn first surfaced, may have heaved a sigh of relief over his departure.

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Published: Fri 17 Dec 2004, 11:50 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:13 AM

And finally if Blunkett had had to march into the sunset, he had no one to blame but himself. At a time when he needed the support of his party and the government most, his views dripping with contempt for his cabinet colleagues in the form of his biography and interviews in the media.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, who initially went to great lengths to express his support for Blunkett and his extramarital escapades, and his Labour party had come to realise in the past few days that home secretary Blunkett was fast becoming a huge liability for the governing party. This was hardly acceptable for the Labour at a time when a crucial general election is looming. Unfortunately for the ruling party, the Blunkett affair provided the opposition Conservative party, which is looking to make a comeback, the much-needed stick to beat the Blair government with.

The affair had all the ingredients and reasons to attract the public attention and scorn. An illicit relationship, petty court battles over paternity and custody of children, and most damning of them all — abuse of power and political authority. That is why, notwithstanding the considerable sympathy in the liberal media for the blind home secretary because of his physical condition, Blunkett largely went unwept. His party and the people will not miss the former home secretary either.

Blunkett had come to be known for his utter disregard for people’s rights, independence of judiciary and the rule of law. Under home secretary Blunkett, the once liberal and tolerant Britain had begun to look like a police state with its intolerance for dissent and freedom. The ID card scheme introduced by Blunkett and various ‘anti-terror’ laws brought in by his ministry were threatening to transform the tolerant, liberal and multicultural Britain into a close and totalitarian society. Of course, all this has nothing to do with the circumstances that led to his departure and that Blunkett might have been only pursuing the Labour government’s agenda. The point is, the media need not shed tears over the fate of someone who cared little for other people’s rights. In the end, it was a sort of poetic justice. Blunkett’s own mistakes hastened his end.

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