Just when you thought it was safe, David Blunkett pops up and, in the course of plugging his new book, lets slip some strong hints that he’s hoping to be in a future Labour cabinet, possibly even as deputy PM. I don’t know whether it’s self-delusion or whether he seriously is in with a chance, despite having been sacked twice.
What particularly astonished me was his defence of publishing his diaries; apparently he needs the money — it must be difficult, after all, getting by on a backbencher’s salary after you’ve become used to living the ministerial high-life — and he could, he assured Huw Edwards, have got a much better deal had he spilled all the beans he might. I don’t know whether that’s a veiled threat to Brown that he’d bloody well better give him a job when the time comes so that Blunkett doesn’t need to negotiate a better deal for the second edition…
I’d have thought his rushing into print pretty much debars him from serving in a future cabinet. That’s not because of what the book may or may not reveal about his poor judgment or because he’s upset his colleagues by publishing it; it’s because I don’t see how anyone can work with a man like that in future.
My late father was a senior civil servant, and according to him the great reason for much secrecy in the higher ranks of government is that government can’t properly function without being able to rely on confidentiality. You can’t take difficult decisions properly without inevitably at times having ‘robust discussions with colleagues’ (civil service speak for ‘blood on the carpet’) and you can’t have those if people are worried that one of the participants is likely to put his — almost certainly self-serving — account of them into print a year or so later.
The discussions will still go on, of course, even if Blunkett is there busily taking notes for the next instalment; what’ll happen, though, is that discussions of anything contentious will take place without him, over dinner tables between people who trust each other, or between civil servants, and we’ll have even less sensible government than do we at the moment.