Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Insider: MPs Ask If Blunkett's Up to the Job, Those Bristol Flats Again, and the Price of Ali C

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Insider: MPs Ask If Blunkett's Up to the Job, Those Bristol Flats Again, and the Price of Ali C

Article excerpt

The talk among Labour MPs is about David Blunkett and whether or not he is overextended. The question is rhetorical. They think he is. His overall grasp of jails, antisocial behaviour, terrorism, cannabis, drugs in schools, immigration, asylum-seekers, prisons, crime, etc is just not sufficient. "It is probably too much for one minister any way," remarks a junior member of the government. "And that's making allowances for his blindness." "He can't delegate," said a seditious backbencher. "He has his fingers in too many pies." The answer may be to split up the Home Office and make Blunkett minister of the interior, a role for which he is supremely fitted.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

An interesting revelation in the latest Register of Members' Interests at Westminster. Under "land and property", Tony Blair registers "two flats in Bristol for which rental income may be received". This entry suggests that Cherie Blair is not--as was first suggested--the sole owner of the [pounds sterling]355,000 properties, bought from the Blairs' "blind trust". Doesn't the PM have some explaining to do?

An excursion to the Highlands during the recess reveals that my fellow NS columnist Charlie Whelan has acquired a new bitch, a 16-week-old black Labrador, named Rosa (after Luxemburg, naturally). Difficult to imagine the Chancellor's former spin-doctor lolloping round his garden and pleading with a puppy to perform its natural functions, I know, but he does--occasionally in a long tartan nightgown.

His first idea for the hound's name--Sylvia (as in Pankhurst)--was summarily rejected by his partner, who is still battling the Lords to secure approval for a statue of the great feminist on College Green. …

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