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Burden of Power: Countdown to Iraq By Alistair Campbell

Volume Four of AC's Diaries.

I'm not as a rule a fan of published dairies. I find them in the main very biased (especially the political ones) and repetitive, and they do not offer a full and rounded account of any era or event in history because they are the thoughts of one person alone and can be edited to suit the author. Even if the person writing them is very interesting the format doesn't lend itself to what I would describe as a gripping read. So it was with a leap of faith that I started over seven hundred pages of AC's musings. The diaries start on the morning of September 11th 2001 and don't miss a day until three years later with his resignation from his post with the Labour Government. What I wanted as a reader was an insiders view on the months that turned into years of diplomacy following the attacks on New York and ultimately to the invasion of Iraq and The Hutton Enquiry.

Although a long trail this was a very rewarding book as it offers insight into the inner workings and personalities/rivalries in the cabinet of the time and also on the machinations of International diplomacy. As you can imagine Alistair Campbell is not one to mince his words and swings his axe at many heads. The worst off of these are Gordon Brown, Claire Short, Donald Rumsfeld, Piers Morgan, The whole of The Daily Mail, and Cherie Blair. And there are also some unlikely hero's in the form of John Prescott and Bill Clinton. It was an interesting period for government in my opinion as the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath were the first really big event for what has become the self-perpetuating ugly monster we know as twenty four hour news coverage.

What is clear is Campbell's unwavering professional loyalty to Tony Blair, even though disagreements and spats were had on lots of occasions. The conversations he records in the diaries between different world leaders were fascinating to me personally as was the chronicling of a new era in Anglo-American relations. Of course the Americans had the military strength but until reading this I didn't realise the importance of the role played by Britain in diplomacy on America's behalf. Yes, I know its just one man's thoughts and recollections but it does give the reader an idea of how things were at the time. AC himself is not beyond self judgement in his account. One of the main things that I enjoyed was the contempt for newspapers and a bitter blow at the BBC.

One of the things that I will take away from reading this is something that he raises in his introduction to the diaries as a real and dangerous propellant to political apathy amongst British citizens in the fact that anything (in the era that the diaries cover, and forever after) that any politician says is now classed as that awful word 'spin' by the media. Ok, its not new to distrust politicians. That lack of faith in them has been going on since Moses was in short trousers, but the media has played its own part in dumbing things down and not focusing on or giving real political stories that matter a platform on which they can be delivered to the public.

In conclusion I'm glad I read it but it is after all only one man's account. But a thought provoking and interesting account on government and communications with the media in what was a strange time for the world in uncharted territory.


I think Campbell beats Blair as the bigger cunt.


Forest wrote:
I think Campbell beats Blair as the bigger cunt.


Blimey, that's a bit like comparing Stalin and Hitler.  

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