I interviewed "the most duplicitous man in Britain" (© Max Hastings) for TheIndependent on Sunday
. The "Complete Edition" of the first volume of his Diaries
has been published, covering 1994-97. There is a lot of significant new material in there, some of which I have noted already
Alastair Campbell didn't like
the headline on the news story
from the interview, but there you go.
As always, there was more in the interview than could fit into the paper newspaper, in which I focused on being called a liar, the Labour leadership and Campbell's rumination on how it was not too late for him to become an MP. So here is a fuller transcript.
(Photograph by our very own excellent Justin Sutcliffe.)Alastair Campbell had been on BBC1
Question Time the previous week with Max Hastings, who had repeated his view that he and Peter Mandelson were the two most duplicitous men in public life. How do you deal with that?
Ach, it doesn't bother me. It just doesn't bother me. If you've been compared to Goebbels, and occasionally Hitler, and Pol Pot and Rasputin, and all the real dark figures in history - it doesn't bother me. That was a good example because someone like Max Hastings, when Tony was in this period, when he saw him on television he liked Tony, fell for the New Labour thing in his words, but he's basically a Tory - a lot of those people persuaded themselves that we were pseudo Tories. We never were. Tony's not a Tory. And so I think that on something like Iraq they like to give themselves reasons to join the herd. On the programme he was talking about education. What does he know about schools? He just talks absolute crap. I can't be bothered with it all.
Before the whole Gilligan thing there were loads of times when I was called a liar, duplicitous. I just let it go because you can't fight every battle. That was a battle - the Gilligan one - was a battle that had to be fought because it was so serious, and because the accusations were so serious. Now, what's happened now, talking about Lord Hutton, great man of granite, Ulsterman, rock of truth, until he said the things that we didn't want to hear and then he's a silly old poodle, whitewash and we're still a bunch of liars.
You can't win with those people. And does it matter? I thought it was very interesting that Question Time
, and that audience. There was Piers, me, John Redwood, who actually I've always got on with, I quite like John Redwood, Susan Kramer who I didn't know very well but seems a nice person and Max. And even Piers, who I know pretty well, said, 'They quite like you, don't they? The audience, they quite like you.' With most 'real people' I get on with perfectly well. They're either not that bothered. Or insofar as they want to talk to you they want to know what's Tony Blair really like, what's George Bush really like, what was Princess Diana really like. Really human being type questions. At the Hay Festival tonight I'll probably get loads of Independent on Sunday
type questions - and that's fine, you have to do them, you have to answer them. ( Collapse )