Alastair Campbell was offered an opportunity to reflect on the unsavoury articles on Gordon Brown in the Sun newspaper, in Andrew Neil’s BBC’s This Week programme on Thursday evening. It provided illuminating exchanges between Alastair Campbell, Diane Abbott and Michael Portillo. Yet further evidence of the low regard in which Alastair Campbell is generally held. Certainly by me too, and never better expressed than in Michael Howard’s critique of his malign influence.
At around 5 minutes into the This Week video, which hopefully someone will put onto YouTube, Michael Portillo recalled a time when he heard Alastair Campbell abuse a journalist. Here’s what Portillo says, and the picture is of Campbell’s reaction,
Portillo: “You were screaming abuse down the phone on a daily basis.”
Campbell: “So you say, Michael.”
Portillo: “I heard you. Sometimes the lines are open.”
Portillo: “It’s not balls at all. There was an occasion when I was on the line, waiting for an interview as secretary of state, and Tony Blair was on before me, and the line was open. You then, in my hearing, abused the interviewer, because he’s asked some question which you’d told him he couldn’t ask. The deal you had with the media was, you would abuse them if they didn’t do what you wanted them to do … and then you wouldn’t give them the stories. You did that every day of your working life.”
Campbell: “Absolute bilge …”
Abbott: “You can still see the bruises on them. … I’m talking about journalists that you used to go lobby meetings. Your modus operandi was about bullying.”
Campbell: “I know you don’t like saying good things about the Labour government. ….”
Abbott: “Here we go, here we go.”
Later in the exchanges,
Campbell: talking about Blair being a conviction politician and moving the Labour Party to the centre ground with left of centre values, which Campbell says, “…is where he [Blair] and Diane would… disagree”
Abbott: “We disagreed on the Iraq war to name but a few, which is not something you’d like to remember.
Abbott: “Would you come back to help [The Labour Party]?”
Campbell: “I probably help more than you do Diane, that’s for sure …”
Abbott: ” …. I’m turning out people to vote in my own constituency. Many of whom were worried about some aspects of what you represented in the Labour Party.”
Spot on Diane.