The Sketch: The unluckiest minister in Cabinet - and that is the gravest sin of them all

He's the unluckiest minister in the Cabinet and this is the gravest sin in the calendar, worse than all the other sins he's guilty of. (Stupidity, cupidity, brutality, disloyalty and venereal indiscretions that wouldn't be out of place in Desperate Housewives.)

Lynne Featherstone asked whether the minister would ever be able to forge a consensus on pension reform given his judgement had been called into question. This is what the House calls a stupid question. (It doesn't require an answer). But we learnt why she is generally known as Lynne Featherhead. Nul points.

The Tory Paul Goodman got in an accurate question. He said that there had been reports the minister had given advice to DNA BioSciences. It had awarded Mr Blunkett shares at a fabulous discount (as little as one-thirtieth of their probable worth after a float). The company is pitching for contracts with the very department the minister now runs. Advice would therefore have commercial value and represents a conflict of interest sleazier than anything the Tories produced in the Nineties. "These reports have not been specifically denied," Paul Goodman said. "Would the Minister care to deny them now?"

Mr Blunkett replied: "I'm very happy to indicate I've done no such thing."

Textual analysts set to work. Whatever the remark meant it certainly wasn't a denial that he had given the company advice. The statement merely said that he was very happy to make an indication he'd done no such thing.

You think I'm splitting hairs? I'm only halving them; government linguists could split Blunkett's rebuttal seven ways. Frank Field suggested, to frontbench derision, the idea of hiring bounty hunters to find the 100,000 child support defaulters. Mr Blunkett dismissed the idea as "contrary to our culture". Two years ago he'd have been selling the "crackdown" to the Daily Mail as a page 2 news lead.

Sucking up to a lefty backbench by patronising Frank Field, and sucking up to Gordon Brown by leaking the Prime Minister's letters won't save his hairy pelt.

Of course, it's all our fault, in the end. Media prurience. Open season on Blunkett. That's why he's selling the shares to stop intrusion into his private affairs. He's done nothing wrong.

He'll probably resign anyway, like the last time he didn't do anything wrong.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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