And so, at last, to Alastair Campbell's Diaries. Gordon Brown said he didn't know why they were being published, a pretence at incomprehension which is a well-known and very effective political technique. Campbell himself said in the course of a 30-minute interview on the Today Programme of the type ususally reserved for serving Prime Ministers that he hoped the diaries would provide "the first chapter of a record that I intend to put into the public domain about an amazing prime minister, a great leader in my view, who was responsible for taking Labour into power and taking Britain forward."
To which I have only two words to say. My Arse.
The reason Alastair Campbell is publishing his diaries now is not the desire to write the rough first draft of history of the Blair Years. It is filthy lucre, and the fact that he knows that had he waited a couple of years, we would all have forgotten about him and no-one would buy them. That is also why he has taken out the references to Gordon Brown - so he can make another fortune in a few years' time by publishing those bits once Brown has left office.
Then again, what more should we expect? As Michael Howard said on
Newsnight, Alastair Campbell has done more than anyone else to pollute the political process and destroy public trust in our democracy over the past few years, so why should we expect him now to be driven by any higher motive than selfish greed?
As to the book's contents, I have already said my piece in the latest edition of the Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze about his self-justificatory and disingenuous account of the David Kelly affair. I still cannot believe that Campbell can say, in the same breath, that he briefly considered topping himself over the episode, while continuing to maintain he did absolutely nothing wrong.
It goes without saying that I am not going to buy the book. I would recommend instead the excellent biography Alastair Campbell: New Labour and the Rise of the Media Class by Peter Oborne, which will tell you all you need to know about Campbell's media management techniques and the reign of terror he exerted over Whitehall press departments and the Parliamentary Lobby between 1997 and 2003.
The publication of the Campbell Diaries, and the extraordinary way in which the BBC has allowed itself to become his publicity machine, has already produced some superb blogging and commentary elsewhere, notably from Martin Kettle who is puzzled by the absence of references to Campbell's media collaborators Tom Baldwin and Trevor Kavanagh, and Chicken Yoghurt, who likens the book to another featuring "fantastical plots requiring a massive suspension of disbelief from the reader" - Harry Potter.
Top biscuit however goes to Septic Isle for this post on Obsolete which deserves to be read in full, not least for the full impact of some ace swearblogging. "As any psychologist will tell you, a pathological liar not only lies to everyone around him, they lie the most to themselves....They say cheats never prosper, but liars it seems will inherit the earth."