Amid all the brouhaha concerning what a former Tottenham Hotspur striker had to say about Government policy, it is an interesting exercise to scan through Alastair Campbell’s Twitter account to see what he thinks of it all. It makes instructive reading. Apparently, this is all the fault of Boris Johnson’s “corruption of the apparatus of state” (because of, er… *checks notes*… Brexit). It’s also, purportedly, indicative of BBC Chairman Richard Sharp’s “indecency”. What has happened to Nagoya Grampus Eight’s former No 10 is “so wrong”. Campbell feels so strongly about these matters that he even recorded an “emergency podcast” with the crisp salesman last night.
The spectacle of Alastair Campbell opining about the meaning of words like ‘decency’, ‘corruption’ and ‘wrong’ is one which would not seem out of place in a Kurt Vonnegut novel, were the satire not so patently obvious. That he is doing so almost 20 years to the day since the invasion of Iraq was launched is so rich with irony that it barely seems credible. Is he really so lacking in self-awareness?
For younger readers, perhaps this needs spelling out: Britain’s participation in the invasion of Iraq took place largely on the basis of a ‘Dodgy Dossier’ compiled, in part, by Alastair Campbell, then Tony Blair’s Director of Communications and Strategy. The Dossier contained misrepresentations about Saddam Hussein’s purported “weapons of mass destruction” programme, which it turned out did not exist – and he was also involved in producing the so-called ‘September Dossier’ of 2002 to make sure the Government’s assessment of Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” programme aligned with the views of George W. Bush and his administration. To add a further layer of dramatic absurdity, in 2003 he launched his own mini-war against the BBC, having decided (in his own words) to “fuck” Beeb journalist Andrew Gilligan for daring to report the views of Dr. David Kelly, a biological weapons expert who did not think the claim in the ‘Dodgy Dossier’ that Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” were deployable in 45 minutes was credible.
In other words, Campbell may have done more to destroy the British public’s trust in their political leaders than any other figure has in the last 25 years – and who must shoulder some of the responsibility for Britain’s participation in a disastrous war. He also, not incidentally, displayed little regard for the BBC and its values during the many years in which he was in office in his various roles at the heart of government. The fact that he has somehow managed to launder himself in the eyes of the left-liberal Twitterati establishment by hating Brexit and Boris and adopting various Correct Opinions about the issues of the day says more about the ignorance and moral frivolity of those people than pretty much anything else. It is, to coin a phrase, ‘so wrong’.
What is there to be said about a society in which Campbell not only emerged relatively unscathed for his part in leading Britain into a disastrous war, but in which he is able to win praise and adulation from the ‘great and good’ merely for parroting their midwitted views whenever he gets the opportunity? I genuinely have no idea – except that, if our civilisation does indeed go into interminable decline (as seems increasingly likely), future historians will doubtless conclude that we thoroughly deserved it.
Dr. David McGrogan is Associate Professor of Law at Northumbria Law School.
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