Blunkett: ‘You’re welcome to my Iris’s’

Returning after a short lecture by David Blunkett run by the York University Labour Club, I am- to put it mildly- massively impressed. I’ve got to confess, I’ve never observed a ‘real’ politician delivering a talk before, thus don’t have anything substantial to compare it to, but rest assured, it was a million-miles from the tedium-inducing hour or so I was anticipating; and, in a word, dreading.

Chiefly, it was blatantly a bite of Labour propaganda, and an endeavour to rebuild shattered images and a massively broken reputation, with the opening gambit being ‘us politicians have been so naughty lately, we don’t even get a chair to sit on’, after which, a chair was swiftly provided.

Apart from the not-so-subtle labour defence, Blunkett’s socialist tendencies and rather utopian ideals of active citizenship and a highly politicized society went down cosily, not just with the University Labour Club, but also with many left-wingers, like myself, who were listening in with cynical intent.

He spoke of how Labour was the best option available to us at the next election. How unemployment was worse under the Tories than it is now for 17 of their 18 years in power. How Obama and other leaders have complimented Brown’s strategies and proactive approach to the ‘Crunch’. How politicians are forced to play the journalistic games enforced and enacted by the media in order to prevent inaccurate, damaging headlines from materialising, further damaging reputations. How he is still for a modified version of ID cards, saying that it would be best if they were incorporated into passports. Oh, and a sly dig at the American attitude to travel and how this may have been a role in the unfortunate election of G. W. Bush.

If this were all, I wouldn’t have thought too much, but it was Blunkett’s relaxed, slightly self-deprecating tone that instantly warmed him to me, and I’m sure to many others. At one point, while talking about identity fraud, he turned to the organizer of the event and said ‘but, you’re welcome to my iris’s’, unsurprisingly received by a rare but genuine laugh from the audience in its entirety.

I’ve no doubt whatsoever that Blunkett entered politics with a genuine view to bettering both his constituency (which he veridically has), and the world, and for this I admire him greatly. And after seeing this performance, I like him acutely as a person as many of his ideas are in line with my own. That being said it’s not the most challenging thing in the world to anticipate what students want to hear, and then give them the spiel. And for this, I’m wary of what I heard, and took most of it with a small pinch of salt when it came to seeing these ideas in light of the current Labour Government.

In all though, this was a refreshing piece of politics that re-instilled within me at least some of the faith in politics that I’ve recently lost. It’s humbling to see the real side of a politician, without the spin of the media stapled all over him, and although I’m still not convinced to vote Labour, I am feeling more positive about things to come, and motivated by the thought that promoting further activity within politics by the population at large can truly make a difference; and a bigone at that.

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