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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 12:56 GMT
Blunkett breaks finger saving dog
Tony Blair and David Blunkett
'Treat me as an equal,' David Blunkett says
David Blunkett has a severely broken finger after trying to protect his faithful guide dog Lucy from a swinging door.

The home secretary said the incident on Monday, which left him with a strapped up hand, was one of the penalties of being blind.

It would be crazy to say, 'He didn't do badly for someone who couldn't see'

David Blunkett
But the MP, who is promoting his updated autobiography On a Clear Day, said he has never wanted any sympathy for his predicament.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour in which he describes his childhood, overcoming his disability and reaching high office, Mr Blunkett says he has only ever wanted to be treated as an equal.

He admitted "petulantly" answering a barrage of questions from MPs without taking notes to defy critics who said he was not up to the job.


The Sheffield Brightside MP talked about how he was regularly injured as a child during long walks with his father.

"My Mum used to tell my father off for allowing me to cut my legs, break my wrist, break my fingers."

But then Mr Blunkett stressed: "I broke another one on Monday as you can see.

David Blunkett and his guide dog Lucy
Loyal to each other
"A door was swinging to - it was going to hit the dog.

"One of the things about not being able to see is that obviously, if I had, I would have put my hand slightly differently.

"I put it in the join of the doorway, where the hinges are and ended up with quite a severe break."


While a combination of his mother's independence and his father's insistence that he should not feel sorry for himself has helped his confidence, Mr Blunkett admits he is sometimes perceived as stand-offish.

While he describes himself as "gregarious" he said his lack of sight made it hard for him to go in to the bars of the House of Commons.

"I don't find it easy, just because you can't see, you can't walk up to somebody easily. You have rely on them spotting you and saying 'hello' and then you recognise their voice."

I'm in the roughest, toughest business, aren't I?

David Blunkett
The former education secretary dismissed claims by one commentator that he could not cope with the volume of questions asked of him in the Commons because he did not take notes.

"I answer most of the questions and deal with most of the responses without notes anyway," he argued.

"But on the next occasion, I answered 11 questions from the opposition without notes just to show him. A bit petulant by me it has to be said, a little bit, sort of, up your nose."

'Impossible situation'

But, Mr Blunkett stressed: "I have to ignore those things because otherwise it would undermine my confidence.

"I have always said in politics judge me by what I do equal to other people. It would be crazy to say: 'He didn't do badly for someone who couldn't see'.

"Tony Blair couldn't put up with that either from an education and employment secretary or a home secretary.

"It would just be an impossible situation. In any case, colleagues wouldn't put up with it for five minutes.

"I'm in the roughest, toughest business, aren't I and no quarter is given."

'Not a lot of laughs'

Mr Blunkett said he had no ambition to be prime minister.

"I never have - I have got enough on holding down what Tony Blair described, generously, as the most difficult job that he has held in government.

"I enjoy it. It is a tremendous challenge - a very difficult job because there is not a lot of laughs in crime and prisons and probation and criminal justice and asylum.

"If you can make a difference, if you can change the world, if you can make people safer, securer, more tolerant and you can ensure that the system is benefiting them, then we will all come out of this in a couple of years time with something to be proud of."

See also:

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