Comment at end
13th November, 2009
Alastair in Austria, lobbying for Tony’s Presidency
With thanks to Julie for the translation. See her original post here in German.
Alastair Campbell: “An election took place after the Iraq war and we won it”
Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell believes that even a poor looking New Labour Party can win the next election.
Original interview from Austria’s STANDARD website
Translation of The Standard Interview follows:
STANDARD: Everywhere in Germany, Britain, France, Italy – the social democrats are not in a particularly good position. Do the European social democrats need “more sex”?
Campbell: We are in power, aren’t we?
STANDARD: In Britain. And probably not for long anymore.
Campbell: We have been in power for 12 years. Recently we had the expenses scandal and the debate about Afghanistan – and we are just about 10 per cent behind in opinion polls. That’s not a lot. It’s difficult to generalise the situation in all of Europe but we spent too much time on the same quarrels. In Britain there was a debate about the poor performance of the Labour Party until we (New Labour) took over. Until then, Labour had never won two elections in a row. Now Gordon Brown has the chance to win a fourth despite the bad economic situation and all the other circumstances.
STANDARD: That is very optimistic. In fact, Brown lags 15 points behind in all opinion polls.
Campbell: The media don’t like us, that’s correct. But don’t confuse it with the general public. If you look beneath the surface, the Conservatives are actually anything but popular. David Cameron travels throughout the country and does his work by campaigning against the government. But that doesn’t mean we cannot address the voters. Take for example the economic crisis. The answers provided by the left are substantially more reliable than those of the right.
STANDARD: … and the Conservatives win the election.
Campbell: In reality it’s about progressives against non-progressives. The new Conservative government in Britain is not new at all and not progressive anyway. They are as conservative as they have always been.
STANDARD: But compared to that, Labour looks quite reactionary.
Campbell: Like I said, we have been in power for 12 years. I don’t care how fresh they might look like, the arguments matter. And here we take the lead.
STANDARD: Why has Tony Blair so many opponents in regard to the EU Presidency?
Campbell: Europe and the government in Vienna as well will make a mistake if Tony doesn’t get the job. He’s by far the best candidate for the job. Europe has to make itself visible to the rest of the world. If Europe decides for a colourless manager, right. But I think it would be a loss for Europe.
STANDARD: What Blair lacks is trust. The European leaders accuse him of not being a convinced European and being jointly responsible for the Iraq war.
Campbell: The former is plainly and simply wrong. And the majority of the European countries supported the Iraq war. These are ridiculous arguments. The heads of states don’t want Tony because they don’t want a powerful person for the job.
STANDARD: Is there a deal from the time of the hand-over in Downing Street which obliges Brown to support Blair, and which hinders David Miliband from becoming EU Foreign Secretary?
Campbell: No. If Tony doesn’t get the job, he can choose what he wants to do.
STANDARD: As for Iraq, the war cost tens of thousand of lives. WMDs were not found. Was it all worth it?
Campbell: If we knew no WMDs would be found, we would have stayed there much longer than planned and the situation would still be relatively unstable, the decision could have been different. However, politics is not that easy. The intelligence services warned of WMDs. If you are the Prime Minister and after 9/11 this crosses your desk day after day, you also might have taken this decision. I understand those with a different opinion. But they don’t see the other side of the argument. But even if you consider the war huge in bloodshed, Iraq without Saddam is a better Iraq.
STANDARD: Right from the outset, there were enough sceptics. Why were their arguments not heard?
Campbell: You can have as much intelligence information as you like, in the end the government has to decide. That’s the difference between experts and journalists. For the political leaders it’s not a theoretical question. They took the decision and have to take responsibly for it. In Britain an election took place after the decision to go to war, and we won it.
STANDARD: You significantly contributed to the Iraq war dossier. Do you understand the public feels deliberate misled?
Campbell: I don’t understand why they should say that. I know it’s not true. And that’s why I don’t really care about it. There were several investigations into my role in this decision-making process. Everything was cleared up but the critics don’t want to let go of their position.
The Guardian says that Alastair Campbell might be back to help Brown’s campaign for the general election.
ELECTION ON MAY 6th? ON TONY’S BIRTHDAY?
Isn’t that a little risky, Gordon? Alastair?
Just asking for Tory press fun with headlines, aren’t you? If, just IF you happen to fail to win a fourth election.