PETER HITCHENS: I’m glad Alastair Campbell got the chop – he’s much more dangerous than Corbyn
Alastair Campbell is a great man, but not in a good way. And thanks to his quarrel with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, I think the time has come to wonder openly why we know so little of this enormously powerful and influential individual.
Because of the caricature of Mr Campbell in The Thick Of It, people often think that it is just a joke to suggest he was really the executive power in the Blair government. On the contrary, it is the sober truth.
I met both men before they were famous. Anthony Blair (as his wife used to refer to him until he adopted the name ‘Tony’ to make him more appealing to Labour voters) was and remains a rather boring, ordinary, vague man with a limited mind.
Alastair Campbell is a great man, but not in a good way, writes Peter Hitchens
He performs well on a stage or in front of a TV camera, and he was a Trotskyist in his student years, but politics has never really been his main interest. He went into the power game because he had failed as a barrister.
Alastair Campbell, by contrast, is a thoughtful, troubled, driven and deeply revolutionary person, filled with an energy he can barely contain. Like many such people, this has caused him personal troubles, about which he has been commendably frank. But these are just outward signs of the furnace of ambition and idealism which burns inside him.
He is enormously quick-witted. He has immensely sharp focus and executive ability. He was, for several decisive years, the true centre of power in Downing Street.
It was mainly for his benefit that the Blair government violated the constitution, through the Civil Service (Amendment) Order in Council 1997. This cunning, slick device (who thought of it?) allowed Mr Campbell, who was not an elected MP or a Minister of the Crown, to give orders to civil servants.
I do not believe this had ever happened before, and I hope it never happens again.
nd thanks to his quarrel with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, I think the time has come to wonder openly why we know so little of this enormously powerful and influential individual, writes Peter Hitchens. (Pictured) Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell leave Downing Street in January 2001
The simple reason for it is this: in modern Britain, nobody like Alastair Campbell could get elected to major office. Personally, I think this is a pity, but it is true. Whereas someone like Anthony Blair, seemingly bland and safe, can all too easily rise to the top. How, then, do people such as Alastair Campbell actually get power? By the methods he used.
Nobody has yet been able to get any details or minutes of the instructions he gave while in office. I suspect they went a good deal further than ordering new computers. While he was there, two things happened. What was left of the old impartial government information machine was laid waste and turned into a propaganda organ for Blairism. And the rest of Whitehall was placed firmly under the thumb of a presidential Downing Street.
Mr Campbell even had the power to force the then Foreign Secretary, the late Robin Cook, to choose between his wife and his mistress, when the press discovered he was having an affair.
What ideas drive him? We can only guess the details. We know he pushed furiously for what he saw as an idealist war in Iraq. He is, we know, a fervent zealot for the European Union. Many revolutionaries love this because they hope conservative Britain, and indeed all remaining traces of traditional Europe, will, in the end, be dissolved in the EU soup.
Many members of the Blairite apparatus were student Marxists who remained radical for the rest of their lives. But if he has some specific commitment, it is a mystery. There is no information about Alastair Campbell’s political origins that I have ever seen.
It is interesting that he has never married Fiona Millar, mother of his three children. Could this be because both of them, like many radicals of my generation, are opposed to marriage as a conservative institution? New Labour certainly did no favours to traditional marriage.
Both have also maintained a ferocious attachment to Labour’s single most fanatical revolutionary policy, comprehensive schools. And Fiona was once reported to have sighed, after the singing of the Communist anthem The Internationale at the 2001 memorial service of Tony Benn’s wife Caroline: ‘Great to hear language we aren’t allowed to use any longer.’
In the lost youth of people like this, the opinions were formed, the plans were made and the alliances forged which led in the end to the revolution we are still rather painfully undergoing.
In the meantime, I fully back Jeremy Corbyn in his efforts to chuck Alastair Campbell out of the Labour Party. For here’s the really disturbing fact. Alastair, like his mate Anthony Blair, is far more Left-wing than Jeremy. And he is better at it.
The praiseworthy Baroness Newlove has once again shown that she is her own woman and not a patsy of the Useless Tories who put her into the Lords after her brave husband was kicked to death in the street by louts.
She has pointed out the thing that cannot officially be said – that almost all prison sentences are lies, and those convicted will usually serve only half of the time stated by the judge.
If Boris Johnson can be prosecuted for overstating the cost of EU membership, how about prosecuting the judges who 30 times a day tell a far worse untruth?
Khuram Butt, leader of the London Bridge murder gang, turns out to have been a marijuana smoker, like almost every other Islamist terrorist, and like thousands of other violent criminals.
The authorities, as usual, are uninterested in this because they have given up prosecuting its use and in many cases have swallowed the billionaire propaganda for legalisation. They dare not admit that they have made a ghastly mistake.
If anyone asks for your vote in future, ask them for their views on this. They need to be frightened into thinking.
Will BBC ever make a drama that rings true?
The word ‘preposterous’ might have been invented to describe the BBC2 drama Summer of Rockets, which stars Keeley Hawes as the batty wife of an unhinged Tory MP, and is infested with Rolls-Royces and top hats.
There is not a single event in this supposed portrayal of the 1950s which rings true to me, and I was alive then. How does this expensive rubbish get chosen?
The word ‘preposterous’ might have been invented to describe the BBC2 drama Summer of Rockets, which stars Keeley Hawes as the batty wife of an unhinged Tory MP, and is infested with Rolls-Royces and top hats, writes Peter Hitchens. (Pictured) Keeley Hawes in The Summer of Rockets
If someone at the BBC really wants to do a gripping drama about this interesting era, they should serialise the superb Aims For Oblivion novels of Simon Raven, who betrayed and satirised his establishment friends with wit and style.
One of the characters is a thinly disguised portrayal of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s father William.
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