Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Punters back Blunkett"

It took a while, but eventually one of Rupert Murdoch's rags came up with an opinion poll on "Nannygate". And guess what? It revealed that the voters back David Blunkett, the Home Secretary.

The problem for the Times is that the poll was conducted before the Mail on Sunday revealed a previous lover and its sister paper ran extracts of Blunkett's new official biography, in which he slags off the rest of the cabinet. Even without the present crisis, this book could have finished him off - it certainly ends any chance the Sheffield MP had of ever becoming Labour leader.

Like most people, I don't give a monkey's whom Blunkett chooses to sleep with, and even have a certain sympathy with him. But his problem inside the party is that many MPs dislike his politics and his arrogance. He says that he had to take on Gordon Brown early in new Labour's first term. Was he referring to the time, shortly after the Chancellor had made the Bank of England independent, when Blunkett met the bank's bosses in secret to demand they cut interest rates? At the time, the Treasury hoped the bank would do the opposite.

Luckily for Blunkett, news of his meddling didn't get out, but it's interesting to know that even then - as education secretary - he thought he knew better than the Treasury. Presumably he also knew better than the PM's spin-doctor David Hill this month when he ignored his advice and first went on TV to say how fed up people must be getting of him, and later took part in a set-piece interview. Hill must have been spitting blood. I remember Hill holding up a copy of the Daily Mail in the press room during the 1992 election and saying to us all: "Never mind what shit is in here", before pointing to the TV and adding: "Just make sure you keep it off there."

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