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Blunkett shuns cold turkey

The Diary has an extra Christmas present for you: David Blunkett has promised that neither he nor his ministers will be gracing news bulletins between the end of next week and the New Year.

The Man Tipped To Replace Jack Straw is apparently still scarred from his days in Opposition, shadowing the fragrant-but-workaholic health secretary Virginia Bottomley. One year she issued a statement late on Christmas Ee (landing Mr B with a morning of pre-turkey interviews) and repeated the trick on New Year's Eve. "That time I told the reporters to interview the patients," he beams.

Sadly, Mr B's powers don't allow him to grant teachers the 2002 Golden Jubilee bank holiday. So regulated is the profession that only the pay review body can agree to teachers getting an extra day off. Even the Queen can't do it.

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