Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Alastair Campbell is right to question power of the Tory press

Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former spinmaster, has been doing the rounds promoting a new 'unexpurgated' edition of his diaries covering the birth of New Labour. I cannot fathom why any one should still be interested in what was a wasted opportunity to change the face of Britain. The BBC, in particular, still seems to be thrall to the man.
If a fraction of the stories about his behind-the-scenes involvement in the loss of Labour's moral compass - especially as it related to the illegal invasion of Iraq - are true, history will not treat him kindly.
This is not to dispute Campbell's acute media antenna - rather that Blair used this nous to best catch the evening's headlines on the 6 o'clock news when the prime minister should have been framing Gordon Brown-proof, joined-up policies.
Campbell was on Ken Livingstone's LBC radio programme at the weekend and it was interesting to hear him agree with London's ex-mayor that the print media isn't as influential in shaping public opinion as it likes to think. This is a view I long held when working on the inside.
As Campbell pointed out the Conservatives were forced into coalition with the LibDems at the General Election despite our predominately Tory press screaming such a link would mean disaster for the country. To Ken Clarke's eternal shame he forecast anything less than Tory victory would trigger a run on sterling.
Livingstone's own contribution was even more telling. He said at his last mayoral victory only The Observer backed him. It was refreshing neither man cried foul about press bias. Apart from stating the obvious, to have done so would have been an insult to Britain's independently minded electorate.

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