The Curious Campaign Diary of Tony Blair

We may have a War Room, but we don't Mention the War
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The Independent Online

"The Basil Fawlty Election" ... that's what Alastair called it on Monday. I said: "But wasn't Basil Fawlty a misguided, egotistical, incompetent owner of a small hotel in Torquay who, in his head, was running something altogether grander, so what has that got to do with this election?"

"The Basil Fawlty Election" ... that's what Alastair called it on Monday. I said: "But wasn't Basil Fawlty a misguided, egotistical, incompetent owner of a small hotel in Torquay who, in his head, was running something altogether grander, so what has that got to do with this election?"

When Alastair stopped laughing, he said: '"No, it's The Basil Fawlty Election because we Don't Mention the War." Which is odd because we Won the War. And now Iraq has Peace and Security and Democracy and will soon have Shopping Malls and McDonald's.

Anyway, he briefed me on what to do if the War does come up. What I do is put on my Troubled Face. Then I say that I know it is a Contentious Issue. Then I say it was a Hard Decision. (This is when I do my Hard Decision Face.) Then I say I respect the people who disagreed with me. (This is when I do my Sincere Face.) Then I quickly move on to a different subject.

It's very clever. Because it appears that I'm discussing the issue when I'm actually Shutting Down detailed debate.

Wednesday was a lovely day. I got to do chatting with Jeremy Paxman. It was great because, for some reason, we haven't done chatting with each other since the last election. "Not presenting Top Gear any more, Jeremy?" I joked. And he quipped back: "You won't admit you misled the country into War, you don't know how many Illegal Immigrants there are here, and last election you lied about raising taxes."

This is called Banter. I'm not very good at doing Banter. I'm much better at doing Indignant. And doing Sincere. So I had the clever idea of combining both and doing Indignantly Sincere. This was obviously a great success, as afterwards Alastair said: "Nice one, Tone mate, that was a fucking vote winner!" Then he left the room in a hurry.

Then on Thursday The Sun told its readers to vote for me. Which was nice. But even though this is a massive boost to my campaign, I am Not Taking Anything For Granted. And that's why, even though we Don't Mention the War in the campaign, we still fight the campaign like one.

So we have a War Room, and an Attack Task Force, and a Rapid Rebuttal Unit, and a Media Monitoring Unit to give us up-to-the-minute Intelligence. But the most important thing we have to do is to convince the British public that there is a War to be fought. And you can't fight a War unless you have an enemy.

Our problem is that Mr Howard is a rubbish enemy. And not much of a threat. But we have to pretend that he is. That's why I go on and on about his Policies of Mass Destruction. That gets everyone worried. Then I constantly highlight his record of Past Atrocities, like the Poll Tax.

Then you need something that brings it all into focus. You need a claim that Crystallises the danger. That's why I go on and on about the Tories' £35bn of Spending Cuts that would leave all the doctors and teachers in the country On the Dole!

What's worse is that I have Extensive and Detailed and Authoritative intelligence that Mr Howard could unleash his £35bn of spending cuts within 45 minutes of coming to power.

Then I get to do my "Could You Really Live With Yourself If You Do Nothing to Oppose This Madman? I Know I Couldn't" look.

It's one of my favourites.

When I told Alastair all this, he smiled. Then he said his favourite wartime tactic was Embedding journalists. He said that in this way the Twat-Faced Bunch of Complete Gilligans are so excited at covering the fire-fights that they have no idea of what's really going on in the battlefield as a whole. Then he made a joke that I didn't understand, about The First Casualty in War, which made the others laugh.

I don't like it when I don't get the joke, so I Exerted My Authority and told the others to get on with doing something useful like coming up with a catchy name for this new War we were fighting. Eventually Gordon suggested what about "Gulf War Three - Bridging the Gulf Between You and the Electorate".

But I didn't know what he meant. Ciao, Tony

As told to Rohan Candappa, author of The Curious Incident of the WMD in Iraq. (He is also available for work sexing up dossiers)

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