Not Saussure

October 7, 2006

David Blunkett

Filed under: Books, civil liberties, Law, Politics, UK — notsaussure @ 9:46 am

At the time of his resignation, people joked that Kimberly Quinn and the nanny had a lot to answer for, making David Blunkett taking his eye off the ball so badly that we ended up with the fiasco over control orders.

Now it turns out to be nothing more than the truth;

David Blunkett today reveals the full extent of his emotional turmoil at the time of his resignation as home secretary, admitting that he “cracked” and that “at one point I really did think I was going mad”.

He recalls: “My whole world was collapsing around me. I was under the most horrendous pressure. I was barely sleeping, and yet I was being asked to sign government warrants in the middle of the night. My physical and emotional health had cracked.”

Well, quite understandable and one feels sorry the poor chap. But, as people warned at the time, one of the objections to control orders and suchlike is that the Home Secretary isn’t the person best placed to be making decisions about an individual’s liberty, based on intelligence dossiers, dodgy or not, that often comprise mostly more or less well-informed gossip and speculation.

I must say that it hadn’t particularly occurred to me when they were first introduced that the Home Secretary might be trying to make such decisions having just been woken up and he was on the edge of a nervous breakdown, but that sort of strengthens my worries about them.

The article then goes on to reveal,

Mr Blunkett discloses that the judiciary refused to meet him for dinner to discuss their approach to parliament and terrorism. He says: “I think bishops and judges are some of the best politicians in the world. They know how to manipulate the political process. They do it extremely well, and that is why the power of the judiciary has grown so much over the past 25 years.”

He expands on this in the full interview, saying

‘I am against the judiciary believing that they are another arm of government and that they can therefore say they dislike what parliament has done and overturn it.’

This seems truly extraordinary. It cannot be said often enough that judges interpret the law that parliament has given them. Since parliament has seen fit to sign up to the European Convention on Human Rights, and since parliament has seen fit to pass The Human Rights Act 1998, which says, among other things,

So far as it is possible to do so, primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights.


If the court is satisfied that the provision is incompatible with a Convention right, it may make a declaration of that incompatibility.


It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right.

It’s hardly surprising that the courts go ahead and do exactly what parliament’s told them to do when they find that provisions are incompatible with Convention rights or that a public authority (like the Home Office) has acted unlawfully.

The worrying thing is that Blunkett ‘just doesn’t get’ that and that he seems to think the judiciary were out to get him (that judge’s got it in for me) and that a cosy dinner with them was either what it took to remedy the situation or that inviting them to such a dinner was in any way appropriate for someone whose job as Home Secretary in its nature was going to land him in court when people complained — rightly or wrongly –about his actions.

Heavens above. When he was in the throws of legal action with Kimberly Quinn and her husband about DNA tests and so forth, he wouldn’t have invited the judge out for a drink the night beforehand so he could put his side of the story, and his lawyers wouldn’t have been too impressed had the Quinns done anything similar. And if the judge had agreed to either invitation there’d be justified calls for him to be sacked.

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