Meeting David Blunkett

After an entire day on budget – rush off to a drinks reception at New Scotland Yard to celebrate and mark Sir John Stevens’ retirement.

As I wander around Ken spots me and grabs me and says ‘all day and you couldn’t come up with a figure’. You have to hold your nose as you say those words to replicate his nasal tone accurately. We are having a good-humoured battle of words when David Blunkett come up. Ken introduces me and we shake hands. Blunkett comments on how warm my hands are and Ken makes I suppose what was meant to be a funny remark something about being careful about women with warm hands – can’t remember exactly – but I was acutely embarrassed.

Ken mentions my plans to stand for Parliament. Blunkett says that if we take the council and I have a chance to be leader of the council as he was in Sheffield, that would be even better than going to Parliament. Well – Neil Williams is our leader of the Lib Dem council group and in 2006 if we take the council as we intend, he will be a great leader.

Blunkett then says that he cannot wish me luck in the election (for obvious reasons) but wishes me well personally. Then he and his dog move off.

I was so aware of everything that has happened to him in recent months – how could I not be? Many times I wished him to leave office – but never for the reasons he had to in the end. I believe we are edging towards an illiberal and authoritarian state – much of it driven by him – but in his personal life I am sympathetic.