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John Rentoul

John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting fellow at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.

"The Independent's must-read man" - Daniel Finkelstein

You can contact John in the comments area or email him at j.rentoul@independent.co.uk

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All Tony Blair's fault. Obviously

Posted by John Rentoul
  • Monday, 13 April 2009 at 10:49 am
Damian McBride. It was all Alastair Campbell's fault. And Tony Blair's.

You have to hand it to the Daily Mail and in particular to Peter Oborne. Self parody of the highest quality.

This morning Oborne has a column headlined: "The real villain is Alastair Campbell." An ingenious argument, given the long hostility between Blair and Brown and their respective followers, and in particular Campbell's snooty put-down of McBride in his blog yesterday:

I barely know Mr McBride. I was vaguely aware of him being around the Treasury when I was in Number 10, and vaguely aware that he was closer to the Charlie Whelan school of strategic communications than my own ... On reading the emails he sent, I was struck not just by their unpleasantness, but also by their incompetence and, most of all, how much they miss the point about where we are politically. The Tories are at their most vulnerable on policy ... David Cameron and George Osborne are unfit to govern not because of any old photos, real or imagined, or visits to clinics, but because they don't know what they want to do with power.

Still, never mind that. Oborne goes for the short cut, which is that Campbell and Peter Mandelson "invented the modern art of the political smear". This is a thesis to which he devoted an entire book, The Rise of Political Lying, which sought - and memorably failed - to demonstrate that the Blair government was uniquely given to, er, bad stuff.

For Mail readers (and the editor), of course, it is not a thesis that requires proof. Simply the incantation of "lies", "weapons of mass destruction", "David Kelly". As for Campbell's part in smear campaigns, Oborne goes a bit vague, muttering "Mo Mowlam", "Clare Short", "psychological flaws", "Rose Addis" ...

Campbell may not have been personally responsible for any of these specific incidents - but there is no question at all that he headed the No 10 media operation when such virulent attacks were launched by the Government.

I do like that "no question at all", as if the fact of Campbell's heading the No 10 media operation was as definite as that such virulent attacks were launched by the Government.

Next to Oborne's article, the Mail's leading article repeats most of this and identifies the real villain of the piece: "Vile smears expose Blair's true legacy." No, I haven't the strength to work out how, either.
 
 

Comments

You really are pathetic...
sobatai wrote:
Monday, 13 April 2009 at 03:38 pm (UTC)
You really are a pathetic street walker for Blair, aren't you Rentoul.
I should have thought it obvious, or have you conveniently forgotten Blair marching to the jouranlists after news of Dr Kelly's death and announcing he was in no way involved in his "outing", only for it to emerge in the Hutton Enquiry that he had been involved in meetings that discussed it.
Of course, Hutton, being - like yourself - a stooge of Blair failed utterly to call the shamelessly shameful Blair to account and Blair had by that time thought of a "story" to tell.
Blair started this whole thing - he was just more adept at it than the thoroughly useless Golem that now leads us.
Re: You really are pathetic...
j_rentoul wrote:
Monday, 13 April 2009 at 08:25 pm (UTC)
I am glad that you have read the Hutton Report. Blair was in meetings that discussed David Kelly and told Alastair Campbell to leave the matter to the civil servants. So why was Lord Hutton a "stooge"? Because you disagree with his conclusions?
Re: You really are pathetic...
sobatai wrote:
Monday, 13 April 2009 at 09:26 pm (UTC)
I have, as a matter of fact.
Hutton was a stooge because he failed to allow cross examination of Blair by the advocates of the other parties.
New Labour bullied Dr Kelly to his death, they're trying the same with Sir Fred Goodwin - only problem is, Sir Fred isn't some timid civil servant.
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