As far as politicians go, David Blunkett is, quite rightly in my view, regarded as one of the most influential of the past 20 years.
A key member of Tony Blair’s election winning machine, Blunkett was a household name not just because of the fact he brushed aside his disability to rise to the near pinnacle of British politics but also due to the fact he was somebody who got things done.
Despite the odd controversy along the way, Blunkett’s record in office is such that he will be remembered as the Home Secretary who was in office during the trauma of the 9/11 Terror Attacks which changed the world forever.
During his tenure recorded crime dropped dramatically although policies such as the introduction of PCSOs, or Blunkett’s Bobbies as they became known, were not always universally welcomed.
But he could well have made his biggest contribution to the nation away from the House of Commons following his intervention in the When Should Christmas Start debate.
In a letter to the Times newspaper, he called for a ban on Christmas advertising before December 1. His argument for such tough measures is simple: start Christmas later and the whole experience will seem less laboured and could even “restore meaning to what is supposed to be a Christian festival”.
While I am no fan of over-regulation, I don’t think I have ever agreed more with a politician on anything as I do with Blunkett’s views on the hijacking of the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Talk of Christmas is banned in our house until the smoke has cleared from November 5, although that is too early in my book, but what chance do I have when a pop starlet is constantly murdering a classic tune in the name of John Lewis? We are a matter of days away from the onslaught of wall to wall reminders that Christmas is just seven weeks away.
As a church-going Christian, it is my view that our children should understand the true meaning of Christmas and also cherish the fact that it is a time when families spend precious time together. It shouldn’t be known as the time of year when Peter Andre flogs prawn rings or when giant red trucks carrying fizzy pop visit towns across the land.
I will dress up as Father Christmas’s wife and ride a unicycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats if any government ever attempts to tell businesses when they can start plugging December 25. But I’d argue that we would continue to spend the same amount of cash even if we didn’t have Noddy Holder reminding us what time of year it was while we trudged up and down dairy aisle in November.
Lord Blunkett is spot on: that we can already buy mince pies and crackers for dogs means that come the last week of the year we will be willing Christmas to be finished before it has really started.
He and I live in hope that big business will some day get the message.