OBE! WMD! Alastair Campbell and Armando Iannucci in Twitter spat

An award for the creator of 'The Thick of It' was too much for the spin-doctor who does not believe in the honours system

He is one of Britain's most talented political satirists, well-known for parodying the inner workings of New Labour. But Armando Iannucci, creator and writer of The Thick of It, was accused of hypocrisy yesterday by Tony Blair's former spin-doctor over his decision to accept an OBE.

The comedian who wrote the potty-mouthed political mouthpiece Malcolm Tucker was targeted by Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's No 10 spokesman, on the social networking site Twitter yesterday, for joining the "establishment he claims to deride". In a reference to his believed fictional alias, Mr Campbell added: "Malcolm Tucker and I do not approve of honours system."

But Iannucci was quick to respond, tweeting: "It's probably more establishment to order your army to march into other countries for no reason. Swings and roundabouts," an implied reference to Mr Campbell's role in the Iraq war.

Mr Campbell retorted: "You see, your wit a bit tired and blunt already. Three little letters can have more impact than you realise. Tut tut." But it seemed the comic talent won the debate when he swiftly rebuked: "WMD" – weapons of mass destruction – the alleged, and now discredited, reason for going to war in Iraq.

While Iannucci left the conversation, Mr Campbell continued to tweet him publicly. In one message, he adopted the voice of the fictional Tucker to tweet: "OBE 'F-ing make him what he is by taking on public school establishment w---ers & he f-ing joins em' Jeez-o."

The spat prompted an online debate whether satirists or journalists should accept honours. Mr Campbell, who turned down a peerage from Gordon Brown three years ago, tweeted that he had rebuffed the offer twice.

The BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil waded into the row, asking Mr Campbell and Iannucci why "somebody who constantly parades their anti-establishment credentials accept[s] such a bauble?" He made his views clear, when he added: "Journalists should never accept honours from people we are supposed to be holding to account!!!"

When Mr Campbell suggested that Mr Neil would "not take an honour", the former editor of The Sunday Times responded: "You are more right than you know," suggesting he had been offered, but refused, such an award.

Other satirists and commentators who have snubbed the honours system are the comedy duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, author Aldous Huxley and writer and journalist Evelyn Waugh. The poet Benjamin Zephaniah refused an award, as did the novelist Graham Greene, Roald Dahl and artist David Hockney, singer David Bowie and Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave. The artist L S Lowry holds the most records for the numbers of honours declined.

Iannucci assured people his OBE for services to broadcasting would not stop him ridiculing politicians. "I just hope it's not an attempt by the Government to stop me because that's not going to happen."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum