Monday, February 08, 2010

Everybody needs an Alastair Campbell

Here's Alastair Campbell on the Andrew Marr show yesterday, defending Tony Blair as he did at the Iraq inquiry a few weeks ago. The cynic might say that Campbell has got to defend Blair because his own reputation is so closely linked to Blairs. But if it's closely linked, then that's mostly Alastair Campbell's own doing.

I'm still not sure about the truth of the decision to go to war in Iraq, but whatever the truth, I'm very impressed by Campbell's loyalty to his former boss. What does it do for you, I wonder, to have someone who is so committed to you personally, that they will defend you 100% when it would be much easier to step away and hang you out to dry? It reminds me a bit of Paul and Barnabas in Acts, where Barnabas effectively sponsors Paul and sticks up for him, when it clearly wasn't easy for the early church to accept this former hit-man into their fellowship (Acts 9:26). Would Paul have got very far without the 'son of encouragement' standing alongside him?

A loyal friend is a great gift. Especially one who is so loyal to you that s/he will defend you to the hilt in public, even if they're telling you in private that you're wrong. One of the things we mention in marriage prep (currently running at our local) is the need to stick up for each other: it can be really corrosive to a relationship if couples make fun of one another or run each other down in front of others. It's tough when there might be in-laws wanting to carry on 'claiming' you as one of them, rather than letting the new husband and wife make their new family unit their prime loyalty. But the marriage pledges are a declaration of absolute loyalty to one another, and that means presenting a united front to the world.

Campbell has taken so many punches for Blair that it's not surprising he struggles a bit now and again. Another part of the Marr interview touched on the difficulties of living in the public eye and staying in touch with reality. I hope for his sake that Campbell has some good mates too.


  1. Thanks David for your helpful take on this story. A refreshing alternative to the unremitting cynicism of most of the commentators, including sadly Marr for whom I used to have much more respect.