X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Coffee House

The wit and wisdom of David Blunkett

21 June 2014

10:31 AM

21 June 2014

10:31 AM

David Blunkett has announced that he’ll be standing down at the next election. ‘It is clear that the leadership of the party wish to see new faces in ministerial office and a clear break with the past,’ he said — I’m not sure if that’s a coded reference to Miliband’s unfinished purge of those who ran Labour at a time when it won elections. But it did make me think of two things

Blunkett’s career has been absolutely extraordinary, a blind man who was still able to read so much that he’d shoot me a caustic email, sometimes even threatening to sue me, if I wrote anything about him that he considered unfair. He was never under-briefed, and never showed any sign of his disability. He managed politics – the rousing speeches, even the sex scandals –  as well as anyone. Unlike some of those now running Westminster, he never sounded as if he had walked from the pages of a political textbook. Always interesting to listen to, always original and often funny.

[Alt-Text]


I once returned from a summer holiday, refreshed and shorn of my normal cynical approach to politics, and watched Blunkett from the Parliamentary Press Gallery – marvelling at the obstacles he has overcome, at his eloquence, his effectiveness. In spite of everything, he did not play politics at a handicap. Indeed, he was one of Labour’s very best MPs – and one of the very few people in parliament whose life I would describe as inspirational.

We at The Spectator have been fans of his (some of us a little too ardent in our affection, but that chapter’s closed now — and with its own play). When he left government in 2005 he mentioned a poem: the Indispensable Man, by Saxon White Kessinger. It’s a brilliant poem, and says much about his humility (can you think of another high-ranking minister who would quote this poem on the way out?).

It’s a poem that anyone with an important job should try to remember, lest they are ever deluded into thinking that the place would fall apart without them:

Sometime when you’re feeling important;
Sometime when your ego’s in bloom;
Sometime when you take it for granted,
You’re the best qualified in the room:
Sometime when you feel that your going,
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions,
And see how they humble your soul.

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining,
Is a measure of how much you’ll be missed.
You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop, and you’ll find that in no time,
It looks quite the same as before.

The moral of this quaint example,
Is to do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There’s no indispensable man.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close