David Blackburn

Just like old times

Just like old times
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As Paul Waugh notes, it was just like old times. Alastair Campbell told us all to grow up and trust in Tony. Naturally, controversy about the dossier was the product of over imaginative hacks, and Campbell asserted that the caveats of experts are nothing compared to a PM’s need to take major decisions. It was a sensational spin operation.

Inspired by Uriah Heep, Campbell cast himself as the humblest of functionaries amid grand events. In doing so he was unremittingly arrogant, almost to the point of delusion. Most extraordinary was his unabashed pride for his, Tony’s and Britain’s role in Iraq:

“On the big picture on the leadership that the British government showed in this issue I was privileged to be there and I'm very, very proud of the part that I was able to play,” he told the panel and gallery. And he urged us to be proud too: “Britain as a country should be incredibly proud” that Tony Blair took us to war.

Pride? We lost; and it would instructive to know if defeat can be ascribed to bad luck or poor judgement. As Daniel Korski asks, what was the role of the then chancellor? As Fraser asks, were there strategic mistakes? How advanced was the re-development plan? And who drew it up? Campbell disclosed that Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, was not privy to discussions because she could not be trusted with sensitive information! An answer that is incredible. Like those that went before it, the Chilcot Inquiry's remit does not extend to these questions. Old times indeed. 

PS: James Kirkup is well worth a read: Campbell may have set himself up for a fall.

UPDATE: We've got a web exclusive report by Ed Howker, from inside the conference hall, here.