Thursday, 14 January 2010

My Day Alongside Alastair Campbell

At 7.20am Tuesday morning most of you were probably still in bed but I became the 8th person to be queueing outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, waiting to register to attend the Iraq Inquiry. Before long your standard media outfits began to arrive and made reports to their respective channels.

Once in and registered we eagerly anticipated Campbell's arrival and I have to admit to being surprised at just how tired and older he looked. I know it was 6 and a half years since Campbell was last part of government but the large sigh at the first interlude was telling.

The former director of Communications and Strategy started off a bit shaky and when questioned about the nature of his role tried to fob off the question by saying that if Tony Blair asked him to jump off a building then he wouldn't have. Hmm, Sir Roderic Lyne soon told him to "be serious".

Once into the questions about Iraq, Alastair Campbell soon became more comfortable and answered questions more freely; providing clear and detailed responses to the panel's robust questioning. Campbell often got into a good tussle with Sir Lawrence Freedman that was only stopped because the stenographer couldn't keep up!

In my opinion, the biggest thing to come out of the day was heading into the very final session when Campbell implied that Clare Short was both incompetent and difficult to work with. The reason this came up was because Lyne pointed out that Short's ministerial department (International Development) was often excluded from key meetings about Iraq. With Campbell making such a strong case for the moral argument for war just before this break, surely he must have realised the importance of the department in the aftermath of any invasion?

All in all a good day to experience politics first hand and I certainly think the panel's line of questioning already lends it more legitimacy than the Hutton Report. Role on Tony Blair!