Indiscretions to his biographer were beginning of the end

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Indy Politics

The beginning of the end for the Home Secretary emerged in the form of a seemingly innocuous book. Amid the maelstrom of affairs, paternity suits and alleged visa abuses, it was Stephen Pollard's biography of David Blunkett that proved to be the weapon most damaging to his political career.

The book, written by the former journalist, charts the life of the former Home Secretary, with the final two chapters dedicated to his relationship with Kimberly Quinn. However, it is Mr Blunkett's comments about his colleagues - remarks made from the comparative political security of 2003 - that have cost him most dearly.

Few colleagues, regardless of status or elevation, appeared to have been immune. From Tony Blair to John Prescott, a string of politicians were described in scathing terms that would clearly have won him more enemies than friends in Westminster.

For Mr Blunkett, one of the most nefarious aspects of the biography was its timing. First it was partly serialised by the Daily Mail. The publication date of the biography was also brought forward to this week.

As a result, the Home Secretary was not only having to publicly defend himself against a series of damaging allegations of abuse of his position while fighting a paternity battle.

He was fighting for his political life by apologising both publicly and, most importantly, in private to the politicians on whom his political future depended.

When the details of the biography, which Mr Pollard spent three years writing, first came to light, his cabinet colleagues privately continued to express their support.

However, as more detailed comments slowly emerged, continually fanning the flames of opposition, the situation appeared to change. Among his critiques was the view that that Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, was such an incompetent minister that he had left the Home Office "in a mess" when Mr Blunkett took over.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was not averse to "throwing his weight around". His ambition to be Prime Minister was so strong that he was "not content inside his head," said Mr Blunkett. His successor was not left out either. Charles Clarke, who followed him as Secretary of State for Education, had "gone soft" on school standards.

Patricia Hewitt, the Trade Secretary, "doesn't understand what is going on in the community". Tessa Jowell, the former Culture Secretary, was simply "weak" while the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was oversensitive to his nickname "Two Jags" and resentful of Mr Blunkett's good relationship with the right-wing press.

His comments were tenuously attributed to the fact that he was not having a good day. "We all from time to time have bad days and he has apologised," said his spokesman.

However, the tide appeared to have turned earlier this week when Mr Prescott described how the Home Secretary's "personal arrogance" had led to the offensively candid comments being made.

Yesterday, further damaging dissent appeared to emerge with reports of six cabinet ministers privately admitting to having lost faith in the Home Secretary.

As Mr Blunkett tendered his resignation last night, the sole beneficiary of the episode appeared to emerge in the form of Mr Pollard. He may, however, have lamented the early publication of his biography, given that its ending most certainly needs to be rewritten.

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