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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

European HR Director, London

£80000 - £95000 per annum: Charter Selection: A leading Global organisation Ja...

European Senior HR Manager, London

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Charter Selection: A leading Global organisation is...

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?