Sunday, 13 October 2013

Exclusive: #ThingsAlastairCampbellSays

I've been wanting to put this up for a long time but havn't got round to it till now. #ThingsElliottSays during party conference, with help from the slick Alex Bright, I got an interview with Bad Al (better known as Alastair Campbell). The interview took place whilst he was signing his books at the conference. He joked to me that he was able to do this because "I'm a man, I can multi task". I was also very pleased with the interview because I held up the BBC for 10 mins, who also wanted Alastair Campbell to comment on the Tory Conference.

Just before the interview Nadim, the interim Chair at Nottingham Trent, took a picture of Bad Al behind his back. He noticed this and said to Nadim that he doesn't have to be all secretive about taking photos of him. Nadim then said, in the most creepy way possible, "I'm stalking you from afar". There's a register for people like Nadim I think and it's not the Team 2015 mailing list; it's the Labour Party membership database (he clearly loves Alastair Campbell so much).

Nadim's stalker photo.

Anyway on to the Interview. Bad Al is infamous for Iraq so I wanted to ask him about Syria and what he thought about military intervention.

Bad Al: "When Assad used chemical weapons and Obama was saying chemical weapons was a red line and the red line has been crossed he's got to do something about it. As things have turned out maybe that we end up with a situation where Assad is disarmed and there won't need to be military action. But I think that it still remains to be seen because I think the Russians are playing quite a tricky and clever game. But I think there is no doubt that in America and in Britain and in most major democracies the appetite for putting the military at any sort of risk is small. This is partly down to people's feelings about Iraq and Afghanistan; there's too much war and people cannot necessarily understand the link. It still remains to be seen how this will work out but we cannot be too complacent. Added to this is the way people mock George Bush when talking about the War on Terror but as you saw in Nairobi there is a sense this being a really tricky point in history."

I then asked him again about whether the hesitation on Syria was actually a good thing.

Bad Al: "When it happened it must be fair to say I was closer to the Cameron position than the Labour position because of the point about the red line. I think if the leader of the developed world and western world says red line and after the red line is crossed nothing happens then it will be very difficult. But like I say, sometimes things don't necessarily pan out as you envisaged then and what Putin did very, very, and I hate to say it, very cleverly was he got the Syrians into a position. Meanwhile Obama is developing this trap on Iran which is quite interesting."

I then turned to Red Ed and then asked whether his plans to 'bring back socialism' was a lurch to the left. The spin Dr span away to say he didn't.

Bad Al: "Well I don't buy this idea that a government taking action to address the fact the energy market is not serving the consumer as left wing. I think the one thing that happens in this country is the right wing still has the ability to get out that message because most newspapers are owned by very right wing, tax exiled, billionaires. To me Ed Miliband's speech was not a lurch to the Left at all I thought if anything it was one of the most centrist speeches he made. For example if you go back to 1997 we did the New Deal. With the privatised utilities we taxed what we deemed to be the excess profits, which to a free market Capitalist you would say how can you have an excess profits? We labelled the excess profits put a windfall tax on it and we used the money to fund a youth employment programme. Now by the Right Wings definition of Ed Miliband our policy was way to the Left of his. So I don't by that at all."

I then said to Alastair Campbell that Red Ed at least has a PR problem which is a major road block to him being elected.

Bad Al: "My experiences is that once people start to say perception then people are not listening to the real argument. He will get viciously attacked by the right wing media same as Neil Kinnock did and Michael Foot did."

I then interjected and said the two key things about Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock is that they never got elected. The spin Dr was stumped for a little while but then continued.

Bad Al: "But, my point is the way the world has changed, the way the media world has changed. I think it's much easier for politicians to get the message out without that because of the Twittersphere because of the social networks and so on. I'll give you an example from last week when ASDA and Tesco were selling these mental patient Halloween costumes, we got them taken off the shelves in three hours through Twitter."

My thanks goes to Alastair Campbell for giving me this interview. He was very kind in person; but never forget what he did in the Blair Government. Him and Damien McPosion are responsible for some very nasty politics.

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