Iraq war: Alastair Campbell comes apart at the seams

Posted on: 08 February 2010 by Mark O'haire

The Chilcot Enquiry failed to draw an apology or a hint of regret from Tony Blair, but the weight of the decisions which led Britain to war in Iraq and Afganistan hang heavy around the neck of Alastair Campbell.

Those of you that were watching the Andrew Marr show on BBC1 yesterday would have witnessed a very rare sight. Tony Blair's former aide, Alastair Campbell, under interview by Marr, lost control for a spell during an emotionally charged cross examination. The 'New Labour' spin king stumbled mid flow and sat uncomfortably through a 20-second pause; Marr obligingly moved on to tackle the question from a different angle, thus giving Campbell the time to regain his composure, step back into character and move on.

The question was the old chestnut about weapons of mass destruction and whether Tony Blair could be shown to have lied to parliament at the start of the Iraq war. I’m surprised that Campbell agreed to the interview even if ostensibly it was to talk about his new novel. He must have known that Andrew Marr would inevitably go to the Chilcot Enquiry and question him on this.

Though Campbell took this on the chin, it almost knocked him out. In what was an extraordinary exchange, some will say that he was taken off guard and was covering up ‘dark events and lies’. I think it was much simpler.

About six months ago he featured in a TV programme on mental illness and admitted he had been seriously ill with depression and was in recovery. The pressure people take when they constantly court the media is considerable and when you combine this with stress of politics it no surprise people crack.
We will never know the real truth behind the decision making that sat behind the Iraq war and even if we did, would we believe it.

Nobody is going to be brought to task even if there are issues that deserve wider investigation. War is a bloody thing and people make mistakes - Blair included!

I think Mr Campbell should stay away from the press and give his body time to recover. His ghosts will be with him until he dies and no number of press interviews or investigations are  going to expunge his experiences or give him any kind of release from his part in those decisions.

The Andrew Marr Show can be viewed free on BBC iPlayer.

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