Tuesday 19 August 2003

Alastair in not a monster

In the interests of hearing both sides of the story...

The dump-on-Alastair Campbell campaign will reach its hysterical climax today when his critics take their knitting to a front-row seat at the Hutton Inquiry.

They will be hoping that when the guillotine falls, it will justify their unrelenting portrayal of him as a man spinning out of control - or someone simply plain "bonkers", as a BBC boss reportedly said of a man who knows more about the dark despair of a breakdown than any of them.

But the plain fact is, his friends - and I am proud to count myself among them - do not recognise the monster they have created.

We feel his detractors - and he has plenty - do not like him because he is his own man, speaks bluntly and refuses to dance to their tune. Witness the daily use of the scowling picture - even his mother asked him if the papers ever took a picture of him smiling. If they took the trouble to travel with him to Burnley when he goes to watch his favourite football team, they'd see smiles aplenty.

One of the crimes - and he's accused of many - is putting the best possible shine on his boss and his policies - something the hacks who despise him would never do to maintain their well-heeled life-styles.

When authors set out recently to write his biography, at least one gave up after finding his true friends would not dish the dirt.

I for one was unable to help, because I couldn't think of anything juicy, and if I had, talking to them would have betrayed the quality that Alastair holds dearest - loyalty.

They had to rely on the hoary old chestnuts - he had a breakdown and, wow, when he was a student he used his imagination to write saucy stuff for top shelf magazines to help pay his way. Imagine.

If they had been real offences they would have long ago been regarded as spent convictions.

Full story...