The Sketch: Always accuse your opponents of your own most obvious faults

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The Independent Online

Alastair Campbell calls it common sense. Psychiatrists call it "projection". Probation officers call it "another five years". The Sketch calls it the first law of politics: "Always accuse your opponents of your own most obvious faults".

Alastair Campbell calls it common sense. Psychiatrists call it "projection". Probation officers call it "another five years". The Sketch calls it the first law of politics: "Always accuse your opponents of your own most obvious faults".

Who "denigrates anyone who doesn't share their view of their world"? The Daily Mail or Alastair Campbell? Who utters "self-serving nonsense" because of "unhealthy obsession with spin"? Nick Jones or Alastair Campbell? Who tries to "delegitimise any communication" with the public? The media or Alastair Campbell? There's only one answer and it's not Mr Campbell. Mr Campbell won't even admit to any connection with what we know as spin. "Ninety per cent of what government ministers say is "legitimate" and 90 per cent of what the press says is spin."

I'm not much at maths but that doesn't sound right to me.

The media village has lost contact with reality, you understand. Mr Campbell hasn't lost touch with reality even though he claims never to have told a lie to a journalist, never to have done any selective briefing, and not to be blaming anyone.

He does seem to accept - and perhaps for tactical reasons - there's been a breakdown in trust between government and the media. It doesn't matter because "people make their own mind up". But it's the media's fault. It's Nick Jones' fault. It's the Daily Mail's fault. That's what's wrong with this country. The Daily Mail. Paul Dacre systematically runs down this country. His paper is vile. The worst of British values posing as the best. And yes, it denigrates anyone who doesn't share its view of the world. "I prefer people who are honest about their agenda. If they want to bring down the government they should have the guts to admit it," he said.

If the Mail has been evasive on this point recently, I can't say I've noticed.

Further revelations include the following. "I don't mind if government briefings don't make news ... in fact I thought them a waste of everyone's time." And: "Political journalists aren't interested in politics ... they ask idiotic questions, they write drivel and I tell them so and if they can't take it, well diddums". And were any mistakes made in government communications? Any mistakes at all? Any hint of a shadow of an error? Well ... the double announcement of spending commitments before the last election. And who was responsible for that? "Let me put it this way. Are you going to ask Charlie Whelan to give evidence?" It was Whelan's fault. It was Gordon Brown's fault. Everything was someone else's fault. When confronted with a range of criticisms he'd say: "I partially agree with that" - but only the parts that wholly blamed someone else.

The pathology of this sort of condition is very fast moving. So in the spirit of mutual tolerance and respect, the next time Mr Campbell appears in front of a committee I want him in a straitjacket and speaking through one of those hockey masks with the wired up mouth so he can't try to bite.

simoncarr74@hotmail.com

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