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Secret admirer;Diary

So you thought Education Secretary David Blunkett was a dog-loving softy? Well, think again. If the politicians he respects are anything to go by, he probably eats dogs for breakfast.

In a fascinating interview, Mr B, asked which opposition MP he most admired and why, snaps: "Well, there aren't that many to admire at all on the opposition bench." Presumably new shadow, David "Two Brains" Willetts, inspires no terrors.

But then the answer gets rather interesting. "I have respect for Michael Portillo. I know most people don't like him but he knows what he believes. He is very clear about what he believes and he treated his staff and motivated those around him very effectively and I always got on with him personally extremely well."

Perhaps Mr B has a thing about bouffant hairdos, for he continues: "Much as I deeply disliked Margaret Thatcher's policies and what she did to our city and our country it is very difficult as a politician with deeply opposing ideology and values not to admire what she actually managed to achieve against the odds.

"Having been in government for almost a year I can see what those odds were in terms of what she wanted to do, not least in changing the perspective and practice of the Civil Service. But I regret there is nobody of that stature on the opposition bench at the moment."

Remarkably revealing interview, what? But then again, the journalist was a trusted confidant, being no less than Mr B's son, Andrew, doing the job for TES Newspaper Day entry for his school, Yewland in Sheffield. Engagingly, the tale was billed on the paper's front page as "Son Interviews Dad."

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