Saturday, July 14, 2007
Newsnight Review managed to make some sense of Alastair Campbell, whose book, weirdly, I find being advertised on this site. But I still don't think they got to the heart of the matter. From the psychological perspective, David Hare edges a little closer in the Guardian. Now let me try. Campbell is a shrewd and intelligent man who knows nothing. All his actions and all his accounts of those actions are utterly devoid of context and wisdom. There is never any sense of why Tony Blair is a good thing, nor, as Michael Portillo pointed out, any idea of what the 'New Labour Project' is. Neither, as Hare says, does he have any psychological curiosity or insight about those around him. Campbell simply operates from moment to moment and, as a result, cannot ever fully grasp the consequences of his actions. Thus he cannot see that the mere fact that he landed his boss with the catastrophe of the Hutton Inquiry utterly invalidates his own claims to have been vindicated by the foolishly compliant lord. Fair enough, you might say, that is his job. And it would, indeed, be fair enough but for the fact that he was not just a spinner, he was a policy maker. His membership of the tiny Blair inner circle meant that he was not just handling decisions made by others, he was one of the decision makers. This is an alarming development. Previously Prime Ministers called in their press chiefs after decisions had been made. Now they help make policy and, as a result, presentation is no longer an aspect of policy, it is policy. The real world, however, goes on, regardless of this nonsense. If we could stand back for a moment and see this, it would be obvious that Campbell, by any meaningful standards, is a trivial figure, his concerns pathetically parochial, a mere symptom of a diseased episode in British politics. Unfortunately, we don't seem to be able to stand back and, alarmingly, we don't seem to be able to recover from the disease.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 7:12 am