I was going to write something about how the Blunkett saga illustrates what someone once said about severity with others and self-indulgence being the same vice. Then I saw something truly bizarre in this Simon Hoggart column:
"My glass is half full and not half empty, and that's the way it's going to be, because I seek to remove the fear of difference, to remove fear of hurt in our communities, we need to strengthen hope and half-full glasses rather than half-empty ones, and strengthening our identity is one way."
It became more elliptical, more like the wisdom of a hermit. "Knowing your true identity and being able to demonstrate it is a positive plus. It's a basic human right all of us should treasure."
If David Blunkett really believes this, then all is not well. The dissolution of ego boundaries – the mental barrier between me and all the rest of you bastards who are out to get me - can be a sign of both schizophrenia and severe depression (and, btw, dissociated speech is another sign that all’s not well with the brain chemistry).
The visa shenanigans is interesting sociologically. It’s just the kind of controversy that an arriviste overclass would get itself embroiled in. But to suggest that your sense of self depends on your ability to prove your existence to the government, that you don’t know who you are without an ID card, is really off the wall.
Right now the media are limiting themselves to claims of obsession and loneliness, but as revelations continue maybe Blunkett’s mental state will become the main focus of the story. There’s a parallel here. If DNA tests are a means for him to cling to his ex-lover, are ID cards and the whole paraphernalia of surveillance and monitoring that Blunkett is in the process of erecting a means of clinging to the rest of us and to reality itself?