So, Alastair Campbell (not the reggae musician!) has appeared in front of the useless Chilcot enquiry into the Gulf War. In a bravura display of contempt, he marked his territory in the same way that dogs do. Showing an astonishing level of memory about the minor details of the events of all those years ago and with a complete disregard for how events transpired after he helped to start a completely unjustifiable war, he sallied forth, blithely and blandly asserting that the dodgy dossier had not been sexed up and that everybody was completely convinced by it and the fact that it had been based on something found on the internet wasn’t really a problem.
And to be fair, I think he actually got away with it. His unrepentant, arrogant and, perhaps most importantly, completely unchallenged assertions that the war had been initiated on sound intelligence and in good faith stunned everyone into silence. The hundreds of thousands of dead people certainly weren’t troubling his mind. The fact that his master had already confessed on TV that he would have gone to war no matter what the dossier said didn’t seem to bother him in the slightest. The press, rightly fearful of the old attack dog apparently sporting a newly-sharpened set of teeth and aware that he also knew where their “bodies were buried”, gave him the most gentle of rides. As a consequence of this, they could hardly tear into the Chilcot enquiry for its rather apparent uselessness, either. Perhaps they were all mindful of their own support of the war as well.
Still, all this was not enough for our Al, who then went on to confuse everyone over a rather minor point in the grand scheme of things, just to make it look like he hadn’t gone in there with a pre-planned story and had just regurgitated his notes. A masterful non-retraction retraction on a small point, lest anyone might challenge him on his apparent infallibility:
Reading the bald words on the page gives the wrong impression of what I thought I was saying in response to what I thought I was being asked.
In other words, he still stands by what he said, but he thought he was answering a different question. Just in case you thought he was too cocksure and dogmatic, he’s also ticked the box of admitting to a mistake, albeit an utterly trivial one.
If anyone thought Alastair Campbell’s media manipulation skills had grown rusty through disuse, it appears that they were wrong.