We can live in a world with airy-fairy civil liberties and believe the best of everybody - and then they destroy us. This is not the world we live in."
The Rt Hon David Blunkett MP, UK Home Secretary, 11.11.2001



Farewell, then, David Blunkett. And farewell to the Blunkett Files (no more updates from today, 16.12.2004). It's only a shame (but not a surprise) that Blunkett was brought down by a trivial personal intervention in a visa application ('no favours but slightly quicker'), and not by his abhorrent policies on crime, immigration, and 'security'. When charged with out-Torying the Tories at the Home Office, Blunkett always answered in hurt tones that his policies were driven by a traditional Labour party passion for social cohesion. What he failed to grasp is that home secretaries are not mainly to be judged by their ends but by their means. And his means - authoritarian, intolerant, judgmental, and often enough unlawful - were more grotesque than anything that Michael Howard ever dreamed up in the worst years of Tory repression. In fact they were as grotesque as anything dreamed up by notorious Tory Home Secretary Lord Sidmouth during the 'black reaction' period of 1812-1821. The worst examples: internment without trial and without notification of charge; 'anti-social behaviour orders' targeted on the undeserving poor in the name of the deserving poor (always nice to be able to look down on somebody); increasingly frantic attempts, in the face of sturdy judicial opposition, to reduce asylum-seekers to destitution; the death by a thousand cuts of the presumption of innocence and trial by jury; and (still on the cards) identity cards for everyone.

In all of this Blunkett demonstrated that, while shedding some of its finest instincts, the Labour Party under Tony Blair has continued to cling onto some of its most stupid ones. (1) The impulse to micro-plan and micro-manage, once satsified by the programmatic nationalisation of major industries, was not abandoned in the 1990s but diverted, with a vengeance, into social and moral surveillance and discipline on the model of a second-rate boarding school. Much of the resulting regulation is as petty, as disproportionate, and often enough as counter-productive, as the economic micro-management that went before it. (2) This dovetails with New Labour's continuing adherence to the sentimental and simple-minded conceit that a majority mandate confers a supreme moral authority - that nothing can properly challenge the will of the people. Blunkett embraced this conceit not merely as a spin-doctoring stance but with the moralistic passion of a tyrant who thinks himself benevolent (as most do). Not for Blunkett those other essentials of democratic government, the rule of law and the separation of powers. As he reportedly put it: "The law is on my side. I know because I made the law." This, as I recall, was also the official position of the man who led (by popular election) the Third Reich. (3) Finally there is the continuing lure on the left of the romantic view that sincerity and moral conviction excuse, or even justify, otherwise abhorrent actions. They don't. They make one's moral position worse. The only people who can defend abhorrent policies with moral conviction are abhorrent people.

A fitting farewell gift from the law lords
Law lords back terror detainees, 16.12.2004

A far-from-fond farewell
Blunkett resigns, 15.12.2004

Kangaroos to run courts
Neighbours to decide punishments, 08.12.2004

Blunkett doesn't just pander to it - he fuels it
Opposition to immigrants hardens under Blair, 07.12.2004

This man thinks he's a philosopher - but his essay is C-grade sophomoric
Why the left has gained a US accent, 01.12.2004

What reasonable fears can they reasonably be expected to remove?
Blunkett: ID cards about removing fear, 29.11.2004

Hope to become a footnote to fear
Labour unveils security gambit, 24.11.2004

Using the threat of terror to make Britain more terrifying
Sweeping police powers to be unveiled in Queen's speech, 23.11.2004

Disgrace - the police should be held to higher standards, not lower ones
New defence for police who kill, 07.11.2004

Offenders to be paraded in church?
Wardens to issue fines for antisocial behaviour, 29.10.2004

Guilty until proven innocent
Juries may be told of previous convictions, 26.10.2004

A nation of scaredly-cats - fair game for 'gator government
Large gap between public fear and the actual rate of crime, 22.10.2004

This should go without saying
DPP's pledge on fair terror trials, 20.10.2004

Not Blunkett, but the same personality disorder
Psychiatrists condemn draft mental health bill, 09.09.2004

Down this path, everyone becomes an enemy of the people eventually
Absos are not just for yobbos, 08.09.2004

If you can't ban Johnny Foreigner, price him out
Government plans four-fold rise in visa costs, 08.09.2004

Unpopular? We're coming to to get you
Blair to send out 'asbo ambassadors', 31.08.2004

No safe haven here
Women and children first, 14.08.2004

More populist spite
Lucky numbers?, 13.08.2004

Vast expansion of police powers is 'tidying up'
Police to get wider arrest powers, 13.08.2004

Are you feeling lucky, punks?
Blunkett faces revolt on internment, 05.08.2004

Thought police
Lie detector plan worries cabinet, 02.08.2004

Britain, where indigestion and sarcasm can be crimes

Turning right to wrong
, 01.08.2004

Nutcases make bad law
Tight rein on animal extremists planned, 30.07.2004

Fund your own false imprisonment
Wrongly jailed trio must pay for prison B&B, 30.07.2004

How ruthless thugs prey on our children
When home's a prison, 24.07.2004

They blame the 60s, I blame the 80s, let's call the whole thing off
Labour unveil crime 'crusade', 19.07.2004

Undesirables to be chosen by referendum
Terrorised communities win right to curb thugs, 04.07.2004

The man at the top should go
Blunkett orders police chief's suspension, 22.06.2004

Never mind the law
Blunkett out to nail 'hooligan ringleader', 21.06.2004

The new slave trade
Failed asylum seekers must work for no pay, 09.06.2004

More rabid than thou
Public view of crime surprises Blunkett, 29.05.2004

One man's inhumanity to man
Judges throw out Blunkett asylum appeal, 22.05.2004

War pensioners = cheap votes
Blunkett: we shall send them to the beaches, 19.05.2004

Vindictive or what?
QC says Carr a victim of politics, 11.05.2004

Your papers are not in order, sir
Blunkett unveils draft ID card bill, 26.04.2004

David on the Rule of Law: 'bonkers'

This called for humanity and tact, 26.04.2004

And bulldoze their houses?

Now Blunkett plans to jail friends of terrorist suspects, 11.04.2004

When I hear the word 'debate', I reach for my revolver

Blunkett seeks new debate on anti-terrorism, 08.03.2004

Defend democratic freedom, vote for repression
Blunkett anti-terror proposals condemned, 02.02.2004

Dancing on graves
Blunkett tells of joy at Shipman death, 16.01.2004

Mass threat to quit Amnesty over Blunkett membership

Blunkett threat to quit Amnesty over terror criticism, 12.12.2003

What do judges know about injustice?
Outrage at plan to end judicial review in asylum cases, 11.12.2003

Fair trials for all
Critics turn on Blunkett chase for 'cheap headline', 30.11.2003

Family-friendly policy
Caring, or just cruel?, 30.11.2003

A kinder way to treat innocent people like criminals
Tagging plan for asylum seekers, 27.11.2003

'This is about civil renewal and citizenship'
Full text: David Blunkett's speech, 02.10.2003

Big Brother is back

Blunkett revives plan to let agencies trawl phone and net users' records, 13.09.2003

I think you'll find the bombers are inside
Activists plan legal challenge to arms fair policing, 10.09.2003

oo much of a trial for 'decent' folk
Blunkett faces defeat over trial by jury, 15.07.2003

entence first, trial later
Out of touch judges should live in the real world, says Blunkett, 15.05.2003

Jobs for the boys, but no jobs for rehabilitated offenders
Private firm to be given access to police database, 09.05.2003

Promises, promises
Blunkett promises fair treatment of radical clerics, 27.12.2001
Farce as Muslim cleric hits back, 06.04.2003

Fear not, Big Brother listens to your fears
Blunkett u-turn on data privacy plans, 26.02.2003

On yer bike, chum
Blunkett: refugees should rebuild their own countries, 18.09.2002

Britain under Saddam
No names, no charges, no explanations: the plight of Britain's interned 'terrorists', 09.09.2002

The terminally ill are a danger to us all
Doctors attack Blunkett over dying terror suspect, 21.07.2002

Obviously as g
uilty as sin - so let's try them again until the law agrees
Blunkett unveils justice reform plans, 17.07.2002

David on parliamentary democracy
Short straw for law, 02.06.2002

'Nobbling the law'
A court to control cabinets, 02.06.2002

The Sun says:
Blunkett stands by use of 'swamping', 25.04.2002

Anti-social behaviour in Sheffield
Blunkett 'bent rules' for his son's old school, 10.02.2002

The politics of the schoolyard
Blunkett 'bully on terror bill', 10.12.2001

Less multiculturalism please, we're British
Blunkett in race row over culture tests, 10.12.2001

Parliamentary scrutiny - how dare they?
Lords 'sabotage' forces concessions on terror bill, 08.12.2001

I am the law
David Blunkett holds liberty and the judges in contempt, 15.11.2001

Magna Carta is for cissies
Blunkett rejects 'airy fairy' fears, 12.11.2001

Park wardens to get torture powers
Traffic wardens to get detention powers, 12.09.2001

Not yet in his stride?
Blunkett tries to cool Bulger anger, 25.06.2001

On this page are preserved some of the priceless pronouncements and policies of the arrogant bully
in charge of the Home Office from 2001 to 2004

The page was maintained by
John Gardner
proud to be an airy-fairy civil libertarian

Story links are to
The Guardian (where else?)

A more serious critique at the
Liberty website

For more detailed coverage, try 
Big Blunkett

Audi alterem partem: the
Home Office site

NO2ID - Stop ID cards and the database state