Phillip Hodson: Is Blunkett's tragedy a tale of rights or revenge?

Share
Related Topics

What's missing from our understanding of the fall of David Blunkett is an emotional handicap that he shares with thousands of fathers who convert bereavement into litigious obsession.

What's missing from our understanding of the fall of David Blunkett is an emotional handicap that he shares with thousands of fathers who convert bereavement into litigious obsession.

It could almost be described as a kind of blindness: the problem is what he and others in his shoes "cannot see" about their emotional and psychological predicament.

The traditional manly script, in David Blunkett's case over-written with Methodism on Sheffield steel, says we must always advance towards our objects with a single-minded determination. Retreat, for such men, is unthinkable. I would earnestly and passionately beg Mr Blunkett to try to see the situation from a wider, less obtusely masculine perspective.

The harsh fact is that all love ends in some form of sadness and bereavement. But for men who have been socialised on Spartan lines, like Mr Blunkett at the Royal National College for the Blind, such sorrow tends to be managed by the stiff upper lip. When love is withdrawn, such individuals try to gain power over the rejecter. Emotional rebuffs are regarded as challenges to be countered by resistance, retaliation or even revenge. A legal term for what they seek is their "rights".

So what "should" men like Mr Blunkett really be feeling? Well, he could say factual things like: "I was horribly played with then dumped"; "I have been cynically used by an obviously damaged female predator"; "Given her infertile marriage, perhaps she unconsciously sought out my potency and was reckless to get pregnant".

But much more to the emotional point would be admissions like: "She broke my heart. I had lived so long in a desert and almost given up hope of renewed love. I actually opened up myself for the first time in my life. She abandoned me."

For David Blunkett's genuine grief I could not feel greater sympathy. But is it because he hides these feelings, or thinks they will somehow overwhelm or un-man him, that he will not give them due release? Perhaps he imagines if he goes further down the "soft" road of accepting pain and depression he will not survive? And so is driven into becoming the opposite of a caring father, as are so many men in similar circumstances.

The overwhelming fact is that, given the mother's rooted objection to a continued personal relationship with him, his only remaining obligation to his (claimed) offspring lies in providing information on his paternity and, if necessary, money.

But the children's interests would be best served by his public silence. Any attempt to muscle in on their lives will cost them. Children need to oblige everyone and cannot take sides: they end up like pastry rolled so thin it crumbles. He should try to identify with the child inside himself that has suffered, not the selfish adult who pursues.

The writer is a fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psycho-therapy. www.bacp.co.uk

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

Recruitment Genius: Chef

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Chef is required to join one of the largest ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is required to jo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The 2010-formed Coalition was led by a partly reformed Conservative Party, checked and balanced by Nick Clegg  

How did the Coalition ever manage to work together so harmoniously?

Isabel Hardman
There are around 250 species of bumblebee in the world  

If you want to rumble a bumblebee, now’s your chance

Michael McCarthy
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor