First, there was the willingness to commit war crimes:
DAVID Blunkett has admitted he urged Tony Blair to break international law and bomb al-Jazeera’s Baghdad TV transmitter during the Iraq war. [...] Mr Blunkett tells Dispatches he suggested to the war cabinet that al-Jazeera’s Baghdad transmitter be attacked. Asked whether he was not worried that this would be “outside the rules of engagement”, Mr Blunkett says: “There wasn’t a worry from me because I believed that this was a war and in a war you wouldn’t allow the broadcast to continue taking place.”
Not that surprising, given the rest of the Blair administration’s fairly blasé attitude to international law and human rights in general. But even the most swivel-eyed loon might have baulked at machine-gunning unarmed prisoners:
A HYSTERICAL David Blunkett told the Prison Service to call in the Army and “machinegun” inmates in order to regain control of a riot-torn jail, the former Director-General of the service claims today. The former Home Secretary is said to have “shrieked” down the telephone to Martin Narey that he did not care about the possible loss of life among staff or prisoners during efforts to retake Lincoln jail which had been taken over by rioting inmates.
With that, the portrait of Blunkett transgresses from mere ruthlessness to borderline criminal insanity. But what was revealed this morning in the Radio 4 serialisation of his diaries takes the biscuit. The audio is here, scroll to about 6:30. Blunkett is discussing the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks, when he was Home Secretary and in charge of the nation’s security. A rough transcript follows:
“…I spoke to my old schoolfriend, Graham McCreith, and his wife Christine, who live in Vancouver. Christine said that a patient in her physiotherapy clinic has told her a curious story. A relative, who had been in London, found someone’s wallet, and having returned it to them, were offered money as a reward. They turned this down, so the owner of the wallet, who was an Arab, said:
‘Well, I’ve got to do something for you: Don’t be in London on November 11th.’
“I immediately registered the significance of this. The 11th of November is Armistice Day, the one day where leading politicians, the Queen, leading personnel in the armed services are in the same place at the same time – a known time. I decided that I should at least tell Tony, as it was absolutely clear that no-one had thought through the significance. We agreed that there was no way we could possibly cancel Armistice Day, but we were certainly going to have to take increased precautions.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m now fucking terrified, with the revelation that the Home Secretary took action over security precautions based not on the advice of professionals, or even his own common sense, but only after he heard a “friend of a friend’s” retelling of a famous urban legend. I suppose it’s only the natural consqeunce of “sofa government” – faithfully relying on the informal testimony and advice of your cronies and chums, no matter how gullible they are.
Combined, the draconian brutality and outright stupidity make for a terrifying combination. Still, my fear is tempered by the fact that the crazy, stupid old cunt is no longer in a position of power, despite his ongoing concerted attempts to do so. But it makes me wonder – if someone so viciously amoral yet at the same time mind-bogglingly gullible managed to get to one of the great offices of state, what does it say about the qualities of the current cabinet?