In (partial) defence of Alistair Campbell….
David Hughes is the ‘cheif leader writer for the Daily Telegraph and you can certainly see the vitriol shine through when he comments on Alistair Campbell’s emotional moment on the Andrew Marr show. Comments about Campbell losing his ‘marbles’ and the ‘plot’ are downright offensive to somebody who is documented as having mental health problems.
This is something that Campbell has courageously campaigned on in the past and its something that makes me admire him. Furthermore, his exasperation on the Marr show was clearly heartfelt and deserves respect for that; however, some of the things Campbell said deserve some examination.
Writing in his defence Campbell questions Marr’s use of ‘UN-backed’ to describe the figure of 600,000 Iraqi dead. However, as Daniel points out in comments Marr cannot so easily be dismissed:
He was therefore probably referring to the survey conduced by the World Health Organisation, commonly known as the “IFHS” (Iraq Family Health Survey). This found that between March 2003 and June 2006, 150,000 Iraqis died from violence, and approximately 250,000 Iraqis died from an increase in the mortality rate from its pre-war base. Extrapolating this figure would give 600,000 for the full post-war period.
Regardless of precise figures as Campbell correctly acknowledges alot of civilians died. So did alot of British (and other nationalities) troops on grounds which it increasingly appears were shaky intellectually and morally. Thus Campbell is wrong not to understand why this issue causes such strong emotions and regardless of what Campbell says people have good reason to feel that ‘duplicity’ and ‘conspiracy’ lay behind the drive to war in Iraq.
While Campbell is right to take aim at the media because;
I do sometimes feel that people in public life are now treated by the media as though somehow they are devoid of humanity, do not have feelings, do not really care about anything
he is wrong not to recognise that in this instance they are driven by a genuine sense of betrayal on the part of the public regarding Iraq. This is as much motivated by claims of a ‘dodgy dossier’ as the ‘land of milk and honey’ and highly idealistic and fanciful way the war was sold by the likes of Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell. Until that is recognised and dealt with by the current Labour leadership that sense of betrayal will remain and will licence the likes of Marr in what they do.