The Sketch: Freudian slips show a crisis of identity

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The Independent Online

The trouble with David Blunkett ... Start again. One of David Blunkett's more obvious disabilities is that he's tone deaf. The Prime Minister has perfect pitch; his Home Secretary has no idea how odd he sounds. He's like John Prescott, but with grammar. At his best, he produces entries for an anthology of eastern European proverbs. Thus: "If someone blows a raspberry in my ear I am inclined to play my mouth organ slightly louder."

The trouble with David Blunkett ... Start again. One of David Blunkett's more obvious disabilities is that he's tone deaf. The Prime Minister has perfect pitch; his Home Secretary has no idea how odd he sounds. He's like John Prescott, but with grammar. At his best, he produces entries for an anthology of eastern European proverbs. Thus: "If someone blows a raspberry in my ear I am inclined to play my mouth organ slightly louder."

Andrew Robathan intervened on a parade of the Government's current pieties to ask how often the old goat had voted against the Tories' Prevention of Terrorism Act. Mr Blunkett added to his forthcoming anthology of rubbish with: "My glass is half-full not half-empty. To remove fear we need to go round removing half-empty glasses." Talk about the start of a totalitarian state. What about people who like half-empty glasses? Is pessimism to be confiscated in our happy, shiny future?

Mark Oaten asked about Peter Hain's Safer Under Labour claim. (or Using the Fear Factor to Get Re-elected, as it is also termed). The Home Secretary said: "It's not like the old adage of one party being at prayer and the other singing hymns." No one knew what he meant by that, but he was chortling away happily to himself. Then a thought struck him and he began a little run about identity and the importance of knowing who you are. In the circumstances this sounded remarkably discordant. I wasn't going to mention it, but as he brought it up himself: you may have heard the fellow has been recently alleged to be the father of a married woman's child and he wants a DNA test to prove his paternity and to be given regular access to the child and its as yet unborn sibling. As long as he can keep those problems out of his professional life it's nothing to do with us.

But textual analysis of his answers reveals that the distinction between his private and public life is not as solid as you'd like. On identity cards, for instance, he wandered into something like a reverie. The cards "will strengthen identity. Knowing your true identity and being able to demonstrate it is a basic human right". Excuse me? The British population needs identity cards so that the Home Secretary's children will know who their father is? His other reflection on the need for "open minds and hearts, open to listening and understanding" seemed in the circumstances to have less to do with combating terrorism and more to do with family court negotiation.

The second reading of the identity cards Bill starts today.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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