The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, January 31, 2004

Couple of gems in Guardian Hutton op-eds

I tend no to go much on op-eds, which tend to be piles of commonplaces gift-wrapped in celebrity. Or tendentious bollocks, if you will.

The Guardian's are usually pretty bad: unlike its straighter reporting, which also comes with the quick loading online and the free archive going back to late 1998 [1].

Today, though: a piece by old hand Max Hastings has a delightful anecdote about Peter Mandelson, once Blair's Svengali (or so it seemed at the time), and a guy whose grip on the truth is relaxed to non-existent.

The theme of the piece is that all pols lie; Hutton took their words as gospel; the exoneration followed from this appreciation.

As for the hacks, the effect of the almost total one-sidedness of the report is a call to arms:
Hutton's implicit beatification of Blair, Campbell, Hoon and their colleagues makes it intolerable to see our grubby trade face the music alone.

In a second piece by lefty scribe John Kampfner, there's quoted Alastair Campbell's famous description of the BBC as a
downmarket, dumbed-down, over-staffed, over-bureaucratic, ridiculous organisation
whose role should be to allow
democratically-elected politicians to speak for themselves, free and unedited.

Rather similar to George Bush's Filter idea, in fact. Great minds...

The intial keenness of the Number 10 machine to put the boot in - with spokesman Tom Kelly, the guy who joked with a journalist about the (by then dead) David Kelly having been a Walter Mitty character, warning the BBC that its initial apology was insufficient - is some indication that the Campbell view of the Corporation is far from dead in Blair's inner circle of advisers.

(Only the unconditional surrender of the subsequent Richard Ryder apology brought a little restraint from HMG.)

  1. The only name US paper with a decent free archive is the San Francisco Chronicle - which goes back to 1995, from memory. Or did - haven't checked recently.


Just working away at the Hutton Report, and note on p182 remarks of Alastair Campbell [1] to compare and contrast with those quoted above:
I believe the BBC is one of the country's greatest assets and I have long been an admirer of its ethos, much of its journalism and many of its journalists.

  1. In a letter dated July 5 2003 to then BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies.

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