Blunkett refuses to rule out a return to Brown's cabinet

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Indy Politics

David Blunkett has refused to rule out serving in the Cabinet for a third time after Tony Blair departs, despite his two bruising resignations from the Government.

He hinted at his hopes of making a second comeback in a television programme based on the diaries he recorded on tape during his turbulent career which saw him quit as home secretary and work and pensions secretary within a year.

Asked whether he would rule out returning in a post-Blair government, Mr Blunkett replied: "I've decided this time to set no stall out, to have no immediate ambition other than to rebuild my life and to be happy. And to see how things pan out for the future."

In two Dispatches programmes, "The Blunkett Tapes," on Channel 4 tonight and next Monday, he reveals tensions at the top of the Government on issues including Iraq.

Mr Blunkett admits he has no evidence that Gordon Brown opposed Mr Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq. "I know Gordon I think as well as most people in the political echelons and I never heard him personally express any doubt whatsoever in relation to the rightness of what we were doing in Iraq," he says.

That appears to be at odds with another claim by Mr Blunkett in his diaries that the Chancellor publicly backed the war at the last minute only because he believed Mr Blair would sack him if he did not.

"I think it was clear that we either all pulled together or we'd sink separately and I think at those moments it's absolutely critical general support becomes absolutely specific and visible support and that's what happened on this occasion," Mr Blunkett says.

He admits he had heated rows with Mr Brown over his Home Office budget. "I do find Gordon very hard to negotiate with," his diary said. "Every time something is raised he becomes defensive but you simply have to override it and say, 'Look, I am trying to sort this out in the best interests of all of us'. We had the most incredible up-and-downer I got so angry that I broke a pen in half and threw it across the table at which Tony exclaimed 'David!' with a shocked voice."

He says Jack Straw, who he succeeded as home secretary in 2001, accused him of angling for his job. Mr Blunkett suggests Alastair Campbell leaked his move to the Home Office to The Sun to divert it from running a damaging story.

Mr Blunkett reveals he suggested bombing the Baghdad transmitter of al-Jazeera, the Arab television station, during the Iraq conflict. He was not worried that would breach the rules of engagement because: "I believed that this was a war and in a war you wouldn't allow the broadcast to continue taking place."

Mr Blunkett issues a veiled warning to Mr Brown that he will have to change his style to be a successful prime minister. "We can move from the era of Tony Blair as Prime Minister into a new premiership with confidence, building on the foundation that's been laid, but we'll only pull it off if people start to understand that when they preach mutuality they have to practice it," he says.

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