Tom Paine, expatriate Englishman, blogged here about the death of liberty in Britain, but now blogs at lastditch.typepad.com
I broadly welcome his appointment as he can potentially make changes that no Conservative Government could dared have done to the Welfare State.
snafu - The NuLabour government has had 8 years with a big majority to reform the Welfare State. Why have the previous Secretaries of State for Social Security / Work & Pensions not made these reforms that you seem to think Blunkett will somehow achieve in a Government with a reduced majority ? [Blunkett rant mode on]Blunkett was incompetent in running the Home Office which spends only £2 billion of our money every year, the DWP spends over £100 billion a year.Has everyone forgotten the disasters at the Criminal Records Bureau and the whole Immigration and Nationality Directorate ? Who was it who presided over the massive increases in red tape and bureaucracy which has nullified the effectiveness on the beat, of the extra numbers of policemen who have been recruited, but who now spend the majority of their time back at the police station filling in forms ?His bullying attitude to the civil service contributed to his disgrace as Home Secretary, for which he should have faced criminal charges for misuse of public office.The DWP is facing massive staff cuts according to Gordon Brown's budget plans. Reliance on dodgy outsourced computer systems will not adequately replace frontline people, so morale and public service will inevitably suffer with a bully like Blunkett in charge, who will no doubt be keen to suck up to Gordon Brown whilst he is still the main contender to replace Tony Blair as Prime Minister.Blunkett, of course, still harbours fantasies of becoming a "compromise" Prime Ministerial candidate himself, equally trusted/mistrusted by the Blair or Brown supporters.How can anyone with his scandalous private life, involving DNA testing court orders, a pregnant former married mistress dragged through the courts etc. inspire confidence in those vulnerable people who depend on the Child Support Agency, which he now controls ?Blunkett is a technological illiterate, as can be seen from the rubbish he has spouted over "clean databases" and "biometrics" on the topic of his ID Card/Database, and other technological magic fix schemes like electronic tagging. The DWP has thousands of IT systems, which he has no hope of understanding or properly prioritising the development of.The DWP has over 3,000 "benefit fraud" snoopers and employs countless private detectives, under Primary Legislation which exempts it both from large parts of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, and from the Data Protection Act. This allows them to demand records from, say, phone companies and ISPs etc. without getting a RIPA authorisation, and without having to pay the fees agreed between the Police etc. and telcos or ISPs.Blunkett will probably try to increase and extend the intrusiveness and bureaucracy of Means Tested Benefits, and he will have no qualms about handing over your sensitive DWP data to other Government departments, and probably foreign governments as well.[Blunkett rant mode off]Is Blunkett really a Stalinist though ?
I think it's reasonable to categorise a left-wing statist with authoritarian tendencies as a Stalinist. There were lots of Stalinists in Russia who were no worse than Blunkett (perhaps only from lack of opportunity to emulated their monstrous hero more closely).Snafu is right that Blunkett can do what no Tory could to the Welfare State. But that's been true of New Labour for some time and they have not done it. I had hoped that they could scrap comprehensive education which the Tories daren't touch and which has destroyed educational opportunity and shattered the social fabric of Britain. it was Labour's worst ever innovation and only they could easily fix it. Blair seemed to have it in mind to do so. But they have bowed to the teaching unions and other interest groups - and the same nonsense continues.In the end, New Labour is old Labour with better PR. Tax and spend has taken the proportion of GDP spent by the state from 35% or so in 1997 to over 40% now and it will be more than 50% before their new term is over.
Nulabour, I'm not an apologist for David Blunkett!! The reasons you give for not taking him on are all totally valid and I agree with them.I just think he could potentially have the resolve to cut benefits to certain individuals that no one else could possibly make. I hope Frank Field is able to advise him on the various issues. Perhaps the reasons the welfare state has not previously been reformed is that taxpayers have not demanded it. As the tax take reaches it's peak and the economy slows, continued increases in public spending on the NHS and education may need to be taken from a reduced welfare payments bill rather than increased taxes on employees and employers.
It's surreal - Blunkett is a creep par excellence,as anyone who has heard his ringing endorsement of Princess Tony on the BBC this morning would figure. This King Midas in reverse will balls up this new area - like he did those others he overseen!!
Whatever you say about Blunkett he is not thick. His academic achievements alone are testimony to his struggle against the odds. Read Stephen Pollard's biography of him and you'll see he is anything but thick.Just because you don't agree with what he has done doesn't mean he is stupid.
Steve, your logic is impeccable. But I didn't call him thick because I don't agree with him. I don't agree with lots of intelligent people (e.g. Gordon Brown) but I don't call them thick. I call Blunkett thick because he is. Just look at the logical inconsistencies in his own statements over, say, the last year. Then tell me he's intelligent.To call him thick is possibly the nicest thing you can say about the man. After all, there are lots of charming thick people.
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