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On GB’s tears with Piers, and my emotional moment with Marr

Posted on 7 February 2010 | 4:02pm

Some commentators are already suggesting GB must have gone into his interview with Piers Morgan with his express purpose of crying over the loss of his daughter.

I have not seen the interview but I have seen Gordon in the past get very emotional indeed about losing his first child, and about the fact that one of his two sons has a disease which means he and Sarah may face the tragedy of losing a child for a second time. Who wouldn’t for heaven’s sake?

He is, for a public figure, an intensely private man, who finds much of the stuff of modern politics and the modern media sometimes difficult to deal with.

But he knows that some who live outside the political bubble are as much interested in who he is as what policies he has for the country, with some unlikely to listen on the second unless they know a bit more about the first.

When TB did a Des O’Connor interview on ITV in Opposition, many of the papers and broadcasters attacked him, saying it was a way of avoiding tougher questioning. But given he was forever taking on the supposedly tougher interviews, that was always self-serving rubbish from a political media elite which thinks it should have a monopoly on setting the agenda.

The reason I was always keen for TB to do programmes like that, and why I support GB doing one with Piers, is that it is important for top flight politicians to reach as wide an audience as possible, on as wide a canvas as possible.

When TB ever did Newsnight or the Today programme, people inside the Westminster bubble would have it as a point of reference for a few hours, maximum a day. We had people mentioning, and writing to us, about Des O’Connor, for weeks and weeks.

GB will not have enjoyed opening himself up in the way it sounds like he did. But there is no harm at all in people seeing that when all is said and done, he is flesh and blood the same as everyone else.

I had a bit of an unplanned ‘moment’ myself this morning, which judging by the volume of traffic online seems to have been noticed. I thought hardly anyone watched those Sunday politcal shows any more.

With a new novel out – Maya, which I may have mentioned here a few times already – I had agreed to do Andrew Marr on the BBC and Adam Boulton on Sky, and I knew of course I could not expect them to restrict the interviews to me talking about what a rollicking good read my novel was (even if the reviews are saying exactly that).

So of course I had expected the kind of questions Marr put on Iraq. I had also been telling myself that given the history between me and the Beeb over Iraq – and Marr was central as he was their political editor at the time of the war, and a key player in the agenda they sought to set – I must not lose my temper, or reopen old wounds.

Fair to say I just about managed it, but it was a struggle. I could certainly have done without his glib introduction, in which he sought to link the September 2002 WMD dossier with the novel, ie my ‘latest piece of fiction’.

But the reality is there is no question on Iraq I have not been asked many many times, and I guess it does get frustrating to be asked them again and again, knowing that most people have made up their minds one way or another. For years, we have been accused of lying when we know we didn’t. For inquiry after inquiry, we’ve faced perfectly legitimate questions which we have answered as best we can. I have been at four inquiries now, and though the first three cleared me of the serious allegations of wrongdoing I faced, it is never good enough for those who opposed what we did.

Marr claimed he had no opinion or agenda, but it was exposed in the way he casually threw in a highly disputed figure about casualties – four to five times higher than the Iraq body count accepted by most organisations as the most reliable. As to his claim that his figure was backed by the UN, that was news to me and I suspect to them.

Journalism is supposed to be about seeking after truth. But I really do believe now that on this issue, every aspect of which has been gone into for so long and in such detail, most of the media are no longer interested in the truth at all. They are interested in those parts that fit their analysis – that the decision to invade Iraq was a mistake and the consequences have been disastrous.

There is another point of view but what I felt once more this morning is that whereas I can see how people reached the decision that we should not have taken military action, the critics refuse point blank to see how the other point of view could possibly have been adopted. And they cannot even merely accept that a ‘wrong’ decision was taken – they have to believe there was duplicity or conspiracy behind it too.

So if I appeared lost for words, it was perhaps because there is nothing more to say, and if I had said what I was really thinking about the way the media has been covering the inquiry, and the way they cover public life more generally, I might have regretted it. So I let my mind race for a while, controlled the emotions surging around, then carried on.

I was glad to have the chance to explain why I got emotional by going straight to Adam Boulton’s show. As I said, 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.

To be fair a lot of the  comments doing the rounds online seem fair and reasonable, and the reactions on social networking sites mainly friendly and supportive. 

But we now live in an age where people can pass instant comment on events as they happen. So before seeing the interview with GB, they can make judgements that suggest venality in his crying over his daughter’s death. Or imagine that I went onto a programme this morning to show a touchy feely emotional side to emphasise I am now as much a novelist as political operative.

In fact what happened was that Marr asked a question, and I was struck by the insight that he had precious little interest in the answer, and the exasperation button was duly pressed.

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  • Nicholas Derbyshire

    ” … the reactions on social networking sites mainly friendly and supportive … ”

    We obviously visit different social networking sites! If you had any love for the great Labour party (which I’ve supported faithfully ever since I reached voting age) you’d keep out of the way until the election is over. You bring a dark cloud over everything the party tries to do. Compare the way Alan Johnson handles the media: you could learn a hell of a lot from analysing him.

    But, then again, old dogs, new tricks.

  • Jane A

    At times like these, I wonder how you remain as unexasperated as you do.

    You have the courage of your convictions, and you remain constant in articulating them, even under immense provocation. You did well.

  • Dario Preston

    saw both programmes. Marr – glib is the word. Boulton was positvely grumpy all programme but lightened up when you came on and you had a proper chat I thought. No harm in showing a bit of emotion either. V humsn, and your point about their agenda spot on

  • Hugh Margolis

    The 600000 body count figure quoted by Marr came from the Lancet analysis which has beeen discredited by every body with any real locus on this. The Red Cross has also stated that the Iraq body count – a large number but a fraction of the claim made by Marr – is the likeliest to be the most accurate. I totally agree that these people just pursue their own agenda

  • Brian

    >And they cannot even merely accept that a ‘wrong’ decision was taken

    Do you think the “wrong” decision was taken?

  • Malcolm Kelly

    Gordon is clearly damned if he does damned if he doesn;t, but if he is natural and honest that will come through to his advntage. People have a feeling about Cameron that he is not quite ashe presents hinself

  • Gary Hills

    I fully endorse your view that people are not looking for the truth over Iraq. We have a shameful media and press backed up by those who see conspiracies where there are none.

    Mr Marr showed his own ignorance on the issues today and his own view. Despite what is claimed he like so many journalists hate the notion that Blair did what he thought was right.

    It does not fit into the lies and distortion they have created around the war. Instead a person like Andrew Gilligan gets away with real deception and creates myths over fact. Yet that is overlooked because he spins a negative instead of a fact.

    Mr Blair is a decent man who should not be treated like dirt by our media and press. It is they who look foolish in how they behave and have shown the depths of how low they will sink to avoid saying they were wrong.

    Well done for standing by your view and for defending Mr Blair. Its important history knows the reality and not the faux truth some seek to create.

  • Louise Ward

    Alastair, the insight and the frustration were palpable…….well done you…..

  • Jane

    I shall not watch the Piers Morgan interview – I am not a fan of the man and, I am not interested in a PM discussing personal issues. I realise this bearing of the soul is expected by many and no doubt the programme will attract viewers. We all know that GB is not comfortable in discussing such issues – this is OK by me.

    I tape the Andrew Marr and Adam Boulton programmes and then watch any guests as I so wish. Firstly, I once was a great admirer of Mr Marr when he was a paper journalist. I regret that his interview skills on television leave me cold as I want to hear what the guests have to say. Too often it is apparent that those being interviewed do not have this opportunity. The interview this morning followed the usual pattern. It is most off putting listening to a hyperactive journalist which is why I cannot watch the programme live. Some of the otherprogrammes he fronts are worthy subjects but again I cannot watch a journalist flapping their hands and overtalking. Ofall things to happen today, my taping of Adam Boulton ended just after you appeared! What a nuisance. I would say that I am deighted you did not lose your rag with Mr Marr – he is not worth the blood pressure soaring. Secondly, you looked comfortable on Sky. I tuned in to hear what you had to say about your new book having read some reviews. A bit silly of me expecting to have a book review….I have ordered a copy anyway…

    Your analysis of journalism is right. I am watching the Chilcott enquiry, reading transcripts and the evidence made available. I then listen and read the media’s account. Listening is interesting – not just the words used but the intonation and emphasis on partial testimony. Some of the press reports are disgraceful. Not everyone has the time to read the Enquiry Site or listen to testimony. They look to newspapers for information providing factual accounts and analysis based on these accounts. Insteadwe are getting partial reporting to substantiate journalists bias. It is quite shocking.

    I respect those who opposed the Iraq War. I supported the war but feel that those of us who did are ignored as if our views are subservient to those who are making the headlines. As the Fox News Channel say – “balanced and fair reporting” hm hm…..

  • Charlie

    It would appear that there are some people whose appeal decreases with each TV appearance: ie Yourself, GB, PM.

    The reverse seems to be true of David Cameron.

    It will be very interesting to see whether this phenomenon remains true as the General Election pace hots up over the next few weeks.

  • olli issakainen

    May I suggest a sort of “closure” to the Iraq war thing, so that people involved would be able to move on in their lives.
    First, the Iraq question had to be settled in 2003. Sanctions were endangering the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. This fact has been curiously overlooked in media. It has been even denied that humanitarian problem in Iraq was a sufficient reason to intervene.
    So something had to be done, and quickly. Had the sanctions been lifted, Saddam would have, in all probability, started his WMD programmes again.
    Robin Cook´s “correct policy” of giving Hans Blix the time to complete Iraq´s verified disarmament would not have solved the WMD problem in the long run, neither. Saddam could have started his programmes again in the future.
    After 9/11 USA had to something to prevent future attacks. Even if there was a one per cent possibility of Saddam having WMD and giving them to terrorists, risk could not be taken. And as even a Saddam general believed that he possessed them, there clearly was a case.
    So something had to done, and the right path was chosen. The problem is that this course of action became mixed with anti-Americanism. Were there a million people marching on the streets of London when Saddam invaded Iran? No.
    Human beings never have enough time or intelligence to make perfect decisions. Iraq was a closed society, and it was very difficult to get truthful information from it. And, of course, it must be admitted that tactical mistakes have been in the aftermath.
    Even though that I think that right thing was done in Iraq, I do not think that asking whether something is right or wrong in international politics is fruitful. Big and powerful look usually after their national interest and smaller countries suffer.
    Right question is whether a mistake was made or not. As I guess most of us know what Oscar Wilde said about moral outrage, I do not repeat it here.

  • geoff

    I never believed Blair could really have mislead the country on WMDs. That was until the Marr interview this morning.

    Why wasn’t the answer to his question: “when the inquiry looks at the evidence, they will see there is clear evidence of WMDs, hence Blair did not mislead”? Surely a simple answer. That’s all it had to be.

    To win the election, Labour needs now to sever all ties with Blair, and get Clair Short back in a senior position. Make her PM if it means the Tories don’t make it.

  • UN bureaucrat

    Mr Campbell

    The Lancet survey, which is what Marr was quoting (as gospel) was funded by anti-war billionaire George Soros and is not a recognised UN figure. It is wildly – very wildly – exaggerated. It posits around 600,000 fatalities out of 650,000 excess deaths.

    The most accurate and recent figure is around 100,000 from the invasion in 2003 up to December 2009, by the Iraq Body Count.

    I would suggest Mr Marr was a victim of a wildcard researcher with an anti-war agenda. He has let himself go as a journalist.

    I have watched your interview over here in NYC. Respect to you.

  • Patrick James

    I don’t have a TV so I haven’t watched any of these programs.

    Although somewhat irrelevant to politics I think that it will be good to see a bit more of Gordon Brown “the man” as opposed to Gordon Brown “the politician”. TV viewers have been watching David Cameron “the man” for years but have never seen David Cameron “the politician” 🙂

    I think a biographic video of Gordon Brown would be very good. I remember the one that John Major did when he went to Brixton. I thought that was rather a good idea myself and I’d like to see Gordon Brown going to the Scottish town where he grew up.

    I believe a lot of Gordon Brown’s personal style relates to his upbringing. I grew up in Northern Ireland which is very like Scotland in many ways and so I think I have some understanding of why GB is the way he is.

  • JOEB

    The 3 Labour mps with their snouts in the trough,Remember the claim in 1997 Nulabor will be whiter than white

  • Tez

    This is my first time of reading Alistair’s blog & I must say how refreshing it is to compare my views with like minded people.

    I think Alistair is right about the BBC trying to settle old scores and the media is setting its own agenda rather than reporting actual news.

    I would have liked to see Alistair give Big Ears AM a left jab as JP did to the egg thrower!

  • Quietzapple

    I despair of the nous of any who find tears a surprising response to intense repeated persecutory questioning on the road to the Iraq war or probing on the loss of a child.

    I believe Saddam’s claim that he would have resumed his WMD programmes. In line with what experts like Dr David Kelly, who was honoured for helping find some of them, said. In line with his history of using them.

    Perhaps he would have confined himself to Israel and Iraq, but . . .

  • Quietzapple

    Oh, I’d canvas with Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell. I reckon they’d buy the beers . . .

  • leo

    You looked like you were having an old-fashioned panic attack – not pleasant. I object to this line of argument that Blair took a decision because that’s what you do when you lead as it implies that decision was taken late on after much thought, due diligence and exploration of all other options. But what Chilcot evidence seems to show is that if there was a decision Blair took it well before the war and then drove the process. He was not sitting there like Solomon dispensing wisdom he was in there making it happen. I don’t have an agenda, that’s what the evidence seems to show – including yours and Blair’s himself. And that’s why people are so angry. It is of immense credit to this country that amidst all that can make you cynical this enquiry is bringing events to light that in many other countries would stay hidden.

  • Helen

    When will the media circus on Iraq end? Marr lost all my respect today. Cannot wait to read your book!

  • rhian

    I am so weary of the BBC pushing the TB evil/ NO WMD argument down my throat, that I mentally switch off now: its like white noise or lift music..
    I’m afraid its a bit like the endless global warming preaching that is designed to make mr and mrs ordinary feel guilty for being alive, let alone putting the heating on..
    No wonder there is a back-lash..
    All credit to you for standing your ground and stating that Marr had already decided what he wanted to hear…
    If more people openly criticised the media agenda in a Live debate, we might even get some real reporting instead of Big Brother BBC telling the little people what we’re supposed to think & who we’re suppposed to hate!

  • Higgidoni

    It all seems that although the questions on Andrew Marr may have appeared “tough” and prompted emotion, that through your own blog you are still trying to state the BBC have it “in” for you and TB.

    Being public figures it is the judgement of the public that will be your enduring legacy. Although I agreed with going to War, and believe TB is honourable in his decision. The fact I am angry about is the Government failed to support funding for equipment and that when we need to make important decisions again is the public naturally think Government “lies” or misleads them. Would the public stomach a war? Or the appeasement in the 30’s prevail – you should focus on how you’ve changed public opinion in Government and the Office of Prime Minister. To my opinion, the trust has been damaged greatly by the actions of lead up to 2003 invasion.

  • adm

    The media still keep asking the questions because people are still dieing in iraq directly as a result of a decision made in opposition to the will of the a vast number of people in this country. Sorry if that gets in the way of you flogging your novel.

  • AG

    Give us your type of honesty any day – well done!

  • Bar Bar of Oz

    The Iraq Inquiry is the Princess Diana inquest with Andrew Marr et al behaving like Mohammed Fayed. The Fayed brigade is now vilifying and intimidating the panel members because the evidence is not going their way. It is my belief that after TB’s second round of evidence, followed by Gordon’s sell out appearance, the public will be saying enough is enough. It will be the perfect opportunity for Gordon to demonstrate his prime ministerial authority by defending the integrity of the Blair govt, its Attorney-General, civil servants, intelligence services and military and to insist on an end to the witch-hunt.

  • Ela

    Once again it seems to me that so many people do not want to accept that their opponents are anything other than evil. After all it makes life so much easier when you believe that the person on the other side of the barricade is -as you put it – devoid of humanity. I was opposed to the Iraq war and never seen the intervention as a way of stabilising the region. I never trusted the Bush administration and Tony Blair’s missionary streak seemed a bit of a worry. The more I look at it from the prespective I can see how he reached the conclusion that he did and I accept it was in good faith. I remain very sceptical about this war but I hope the years to come will prove me wrong. What I cannot accept though is the constant liar…criminal mantra. This sort of vilification does not serve any purpose. It proves nothing. It belittles those who opposed the war. About the Marr interview – I’d like to say well-done. If somebody had told me a few months ago that I would post a favourable comment (which I’ve done a few times now) I would have laughed. Life is full of surprises.

  • Lindsay

    Alastair,

    Whilst I have many reservations about Tony Blair, the War and so on, it was refreshing to see a man in the public eye getting ’emotional’ on TV. I also welcome your previous honest, very public examination of the personal difficulties you have faced over the years.

    Too few men are able to openly admit to having to deal with these issues and you have been courageous and brave in being open about the difficulties you and others face.

    If only more politicians, and I work with many, were able to admit to having feelings.

    Regards from Todmorden

    Lindsay

  • Jersey Bean

    Well done Alastair – as a “Jersey Bean” and with no aparent view on politics from our little rock, I am beginning to despise the constant questioning as to the war. As you say in your blog, you have been cleared three times at hearings, you and TB know the truth – yes people died in the War but with my objective head these men and women who signed up to the Forces always have an iota of doubt that they may have to go to war – it is time to let it go to rest… I felt for you this morning – not because of the politics – but because of the pressure that not only for you but your family are going through and that as someone earlier put on your blog, Marr really needed to be told to “Back off” in no uncertain way. Keep your chin up – at least Burnley won!!!

  • Peter

    Enough is enough; I for one am tired of the determination of the small minded journalists, politicians and gullable public to uncover a scandal that just doesn’t exist. I may not always have agreed with TB or AC, but I truly believe a decision was made based on the only intelligence available at the time and, as TB has said, it was judgement he had to make at the time. All those invilved will have to live with that decision – right or wrong – for the rest of their lives, so let’s not allow anyone to be villified over an exceptionally difficult decision that none of us would want to make ourselves.

    I would say, however, that a little humility by either AC or TB regarding the loss of life would go a long way. That aside, please be assured that I am one of many that feel it is now time to move on. Good luck.

  • Gusemcontra

    Do you only publish sympathetic comments? Frankly, I didn’t buy the panic attack. What it seemed to be was a well spun ‘human’ side to the support for the war. That’s the problem, Alastair: If you spin all your life, people stop believing anything you do/say.

  • Sven

    Just a line to say it appears your mates are with you, you are not on your own. Good luck mate, dont let the bastards grind you down.

  • Katie

    I feel for you and for Gordon Brown, obviously in his case, reluctantly in yours because I am a human being however much I wish straightforward questions could just be answred. I would not want to cricise GB in any aspect regarding the tragedy he went through and lives with. The only thing I would say because it has to be said is that when David Cameron spoke of his grief for his son, Gordon Brown said he would never do that in public and DC was merely using his children. I hate all the hypocrisy in politics.

  • Robert Jackson

    The political right have been Machiavellian provoking despair and anger in voters minds by pointing to birthrights and their theft or spoilage or wastage by Labour.

    By batting on making bogeymen of Tony Blair and you, Alastair, they set a train of thought running for erstwhile Labour people:

    “1997 – Labour majority vast
    2001 – Labour majority vast
    2003 – Bush and Blair get pally.
    2005 – Labour majority slashed to 60+
    2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 – if Blair hadn’t joined up with Bush we’d have had a vast Labour majority in 2005 and be looking at an easy Labour win in 2009 and five years of Labour government to 2014 and prospects of a fifth term.”

    “As it is the Tories are resurgent and we are unpopular and we’re gonna lose the 2010 election all because of Blair siding with Bush.”

    And so it goes on with all the ifs and recalculated buts softening up the Left and the Middle.

    But thinking back, at the close of poll on 1st May 1997 the BBC Exit polls came up with a projected majority of 59 – result ecstasy.

    2005 we get a majority over 60 – result gloom.

    “We wuz robbed by Blair and Campbell and Bush.”

    And so it goes on – the same tactic as the Tory promise on inheritance tax cuts for the wealthy few, just turned around and aimed squarely where it hurts most – in our emotions.

  • Trevor Malcolm Portsmouth Hampshire

    Another toweringly masterful performance, sir. This time opposite Andrew Marr. Your “emotional moment” – some four minutes and 12 seconds into the coverage, I became alarmed at the changes in your breathing patterns, hand clenching and physiology – I feared an almighty, but richly-deserved, “monstering” would land on the smug little Marr’s head

    Remains a mystery how you held it all back so elegantly, especially when such an outburst (the reaction I suspect Marr was itching to unleash in you) would’ve been thoroughly justified

    Extraordinary levels of pressure, lately. The Inquiry, in particular. Worth taking time out to reflect that, regardless of all else, it’s family first – your identity domains, as Loving Partner and Responsible Father – and second, your own health, physical and non-physical. Nothing else can ever matter as much

    For example, on a “Needs Fulfilled” list, just imagine discovering that supporting the Labour Party to election victory 2010, Burnley FC, fundraising – charitable and political party – activist interest and lived experience in mental healthcare, Daily Mail editor Dacre-bashing, bike-riding, bagpipe-playing, and now Maya Lowe, fictional filmstar in your freshly-published novel, all these stacked upon higher shelves than your health and family. That would be alarming

    And then, another damn inquiry, endless press coverage.Yet more tv interviews, never-ending

    Yet, I guess there must come a time when, however much stuff out there needs publicising or debunking, you need to reflect on the value of “private and self-serving Me-time” away from camera flashlights and tabloid headlines, time spent with your partner Fiona and your family, just as much. And maybe even more so

    Now would be an ideal start-time

    TM ——

    ————-

  • Doug Gray

    I would have liked you to make the point that how many people died is not anything to do with whether you lied or not, and then ask if you are being blamed for Al Qaeda suicide bombings? Then say it’s only the families of the dead that are hurt when this line that they were lied to is repeatedly made by the media.

    Say that next time.

  • Mark Wright

    I did find it somewhat amusing that considering all the important things that are going on in the world the two big stories of the day were ‘Gordon Brown and Alastair Campbell Have Feelings’!

    They’ll next be reporting that Tony Blair likes small puppies and that his top lip quivers when he watches ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’!

  • Michael Sweeney

    Well said. For what it’s worth, I supported the Iraq intervention and believed it to be a noble cause – by both Bush and Blair. Saddam’s wicked brutality and slipperiness is almost always overlooked by the war’s critics. Islamist terrorists are much more effective at killing their co-religionists than the West has been. I wish you were as sensible and even handed in your treatment of the Tories and Labour’s record though – I happen to believe it would do Labour’s cause much good at the present time.

  • Charlie

    I entirely concur with Leo’s comment below.

  • John Turner (HDYDP.com)

    Alastair,

    I hope you know your Aristotle and your Julius Caesar.

    Benevolence (the opposite of anger!) wins arguments, as well as the three appeals (reason, your character, and the needs of the voters – aka logos, ethos and pathos)

    All of which you and GB need to continue to work on with THE TRUTH under-pinning all you have to say.

    The set-piece oratory in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is well worth a read with the above in mind.

    “What’s The Motive?” is the question you and we should be asking each other and ourselves.

    Regards
    John (Non-Politically-Aligned!)

  • Paul Martin

    Alasdair Campbell should support the introduction of a legal caution for vulnerable mental health patients who place themselves in extraordinary jeopardy by simply communicating with NHS staff. At the very least, people should be aware that the NHS transfers their data to Home Office registers and watchlists so that they can make an informed choice on the risks to their life chances.

  • ken boyle

    Hi,

    Not sure if this is the optimal way of ‘making contact’ with Alistair, given my purpose…..although I presume these comments are seen by human eye, so perhaps you could forward my words if you feel they’re of sufficient interest….

    I’m not, and never have been, a labour voter but what I emphatically don’t want out of this forthcoming election is that nice Mr Cameron, and all his hinterland. To that end I found myself playing ‘Saatchi’ on the Design-a-Dave poster site, but I was looking to come up with stuff
    which might hurt, rather than merely amuse….
    Provisional ideas included:

    Trust me. We’re really very big on redistribution.

    and

    The Conservatives. We’ll change your lives.

    These were both notionally envisaged as part of a ‘poster campaign’….but I then realised that if you could attach something verbally to him – which perhaps even then found it’s way into popular thinking – that that would be very much more powerful…..

    I think I do now have something which could perhaps be useful. It’s actually quite a well-known phrasing with a hint of gentle comedy to it. If attached to David Cameron, it would point to his complete inexperience of government and therefore unsuitability. On a more subtle, almost subliminal level, the phrase also alludes to the dangers Cameron would bring for traditional Labour voters.

    I’ll not offer it up randomly, here and now, because I think it’s too good for that, but Alistair – or indeed some other Labour person – would be welcome to come back to me, if I’ve aroused any interest. I’m not SO stupid as to think that I’ve hit upon a ‘Labour isn’t working’ moment, but I do think the phrase would be worth hearing in a ‘planning environment’.

    hope to hear back
    yours
    KB
    (phone no available, if preferred)

  • Bridget Sime

    I have never written on a blog site before (or even read one!) but I was so incensed by your treatment by Andrew Marr and the media generally that I could not let the day go by without expressing my sympathy to you. You do a great job. I totally understand your exasperation. Keep up the good work! Bridget

  • Colin Morley

    Does the BBC or any “political media elite” really set the agenda for these discussions/debates? I get heartily sick of hearing the same allegations of bias from both the Labour Party and the Tories when they are in a corner.

    I sensed your anger and frustration during the Marr interview and although as you know from my previous comments I am not at all on your side re Iraq, I did feel a brief moment of sympathy. I am prepared to believe that both Blair and you were sincere – just completely out of touch with reality. I’ve never really bought the “Liar” bit – after all what purpose would lying serve? Still wish it was more of a public enquiry, though!

  • Salisbury

    Did you honestly not expect the crack about your novel being another work of fiction after the dossiers? Of course you did – or if you didn’t you’ve lost your touch.

    In fact Sandi Toksvig told the story on the News Quiz that she’d already used the line introducing you once before at some event, so it can hardly have come as a surprise. Won’t be the last time you hear it either. I am sorry if it hurts your feelings – but I’ve never noticed evidence of you having much concern for the feelings of the political enemies you’ve bulldozed your way across.