Labour 'may lose votes over Blunkett'

Exclusive Simon McGee Political Editor Architect of Westminster's anti-sleaze codes of conduct Lord Nolan called on Prime Minister Tony Blair to discipline David Blunkett, warning that voters may punish governments that are dishonest and do not follow the rules.

In a sensational attack on Downing Street's decision to back the embattled Work and Pensions Secretary, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life said Mr Blair should be considering demoting or dismissing the Sheffield Brightside MP.

Speaking exclusively to the Yorkshire Post, he said the electorate should look at whether politicians follow their own rules.

Lord Nolan's committee introduced in 1995 the rules that have been at the heart of Mr Blunkett's troubles in recent days – the requirement that former Ministers consult an independent Whitehall panel about business offers within two years of leaving office, to avoid any conflict of interest.

The Yorkshire Post revealed yesterday he had breached rules on a second job, confirmed by leaked letters, and details of a third job emerged.

Lord Nolan said: "I think he's more or less admitted that he should have followed the rules. But I think it's the fault of the Government that he has been allowed to see if he can get away with it.

"Blair should insist on Ministers all round obeying the rules. I think that if anyone breaks the rules they should be disciplined, otherwise there's no point having the rules."

Asked if that meant Mr Blair sacking or demoting Mr Blunkett, Lord Nolan replied: "That's right."