Monday, May 09, 2005

Five Months in the Wilderness

David Blunkett has been appointed as Work and Pensions Secretary.

I've got a terrible memory but I had this feeling that he'd been forced to resign. Was it something to do with goats and credit card applications? No, that can't be right. I decided to refresh my memory.
Others who share my affliction may find this useful. Those with a good memory might not want anything to do with it.

I read this BBC page, dated 01/12/04. It's becoming slightly clearer. The problem concerned a nanny and a visa application.
It can't be the full story though. Mr Blunkett is quoted in a handy BBC box. He said:
I wouldn't be standing here if I thought there was any doubt whatsoever about what I've done
Mr Blunkett, a man of integrity, clearly hasn't done anything wrong. Perhaps he resigned to spend more time with his family? I'll need to dig a little deeper. This might help:

The Budd Report, 21st December, 2004

My main conclusions are:
1. Ms Leoncia Casalme applied for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) on 15 March 2003.
2. Neither Mr Blunkett nor anyone in his private office was involved in providing the application form, checking it or delivering it to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) in Croydon.
3. The application was initially considered by IND on 23 April 2003. The decision at that time was to “extend” it for further consideration. A letter informing Ms Casalme of this decision was sent to her on the same date.
4. Ms Casalme showed the letter to Mrs Quinn, who was at that time her employer, and Mrs Quinn showed it to Mr Blunkett on or about 28 April.
5. The letter was taken to the Home Office in the week beginning 28 April, most probably on 29 April, either by Mr Blunkett himself or in a set of papers delivered when Mr Blunkett was in Wales on a visit.
6. At some point or points in that week, an official in Mr Blunkett’s private office raised the case with IND.
7. As a result, Ms Casalme’s case was re-considered on 6 May and the decision was changed to grant ILR. Ms Casalme was informed of the decision and her passport was returned to her on 12 May.
8. The period from the posting of the application to the decision to grant ILR was 52 days.
9. The average time for processing extended applications for ILR for domestic workers at the time of the application was 172 days.
10. The initial decision to extend the case was marginal, as was the decision to grant ILR two weeks later. In effect the application was moved from one side of the margin to another.
11. I have not been able to determine whether Mr Blunkett gave any instructions in relation to the case and, if so, what they were.
This is all slightly vague although Mr Blunkett had already resigned by the time this was published, saying "I have always been honest about my recollection of events. But any perception of this application being speeded up requires me to take responsibility."
Lets see now, can I draw any definitive conclusions from the above? Probably not if I'm honest. I could speculate but that would be unfair to Mr Blunkett. Fortunately I can draw on the insights of a straight punching talking insider:
"There was an intervention, it was fast-tracked and he resigned. He has been found guilty of the offence, it has been found that he had intervened."
John Prescott, 22 December, 2004
Right, that's everything explained to my satisfaction. Mr Blunkett intervened so he had to resign. Oh wait, I'm having a Columbo moment. There's just one more thing I'd like to clear up.
I'm not very good at understanding euphemisms. Does "taking responsibility" actually mean taking a five month holiday before returning to a new job in the Cabinet?

Anyway, Mr Blunkett has already been busy in his new post. He was interviewed on Breakfast with Frost:
He suggested foreign workers could also play a part in meeting the shortfall at the same time as filling skills gaps.

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