"If you want to read a blog to get a sense of what is going on in Hong Kong these days or a blog that would tell you what life was like living in colonial Hong Kong, this blog, WALTER'S BLOG, fits the bill." Hong Kong Blog Review
"As the high priest of the dark arts of deflection and propaganda, he's now engaged in an exercise of image rejuvenation."
Alastair Campbell is at it again. For the uninitiated, Campbell was Prime Minister Tony Blair's spin doctor. Amongst Campbell's many doubtful accolades is his role in compiling a dodgy weapons dossier that cleared the way for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. As we all know, that went well. Campbell is a man who has built his life and career around misleading and manipulating people.
These days he's peddling a book with a tale of his victimhood around mental health issues. These are not matters I'd generally comment on except that Campbell made it an issue. Crucially, I would have more sympathy for Campbell if he had the common decency to own up to his part in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children. After all, can we attribute his ongoing struggles with depression, to the terrible things he's done? I'm no expert, but I reckon it must have an impact.
As the high priest of the dark arts of deflection and propaganda, he's now engaged in an exercise of image rejuvenation. Helping him out are the useful idiots at the Guardian newspaper. Reading this piece in the Guardian, it's soon evident that Campbell wants our sympathy and understanding. And coming from a family that has experienced issues with depression, I have a degree of empathy. Except that the substance of Campbell's assertions comes wanting because he's less than honest — I hear a cry of 'nothing new there!'
We know Campbell has a history of depression going way back; he has also spoken about his alcoholism. And yet I can't help but wonder if his ongoing self-deceit over the Iraq saga is playing with his soundness of mind. After all, Campbell is an astute man, who must in his quiet moments dwell on his part in the death and maiming of thousands. His leading role in a decision that caused untold misery to many families worldwide must be chewing away inside him. Especially as the mess that is Iraq continues today.
And yet, we hear little about this saga from Campbell except when he seeks to earn our pity. Instead, he gives us details of his hallway curtains and his shaving habits. We also learn he operates a number system of one to 10 to assess his state of depression. I'd award him 10 out of 10 for being disingenuous.
Of course, you may think a protracted period of calm reflection and solitude may help. Yet Campbell enjoys the limelight, and loves the sound of his own voice; thus, he must seek the attention he craves. So, despite all his 'suffering and pain', he still manages to pop up on TV and in the media at frequent intervals to share his words of wisdom.
Campbell tells us "It was a horrible shock and I felt scared and powerless" when the Hutton inquiry sought his private diaries. That inquiry looked at the death of government weapons inspector David Kelly, a man who some believe Campbell propelled to suicide.
It would be nice if Campbell could at least have the honesty to address the 'horrible shock and powerlessness' that Iraqi children must have felt as bombs fell on them. Listen how Campbell makes light of these horrors when caught out with his own words. He deftly steps over the corpses.
Nonetheless, you've got to give Campbell his due. His antenna remains fine-tuned to the cultural zeitgeist with its fawning over victims. Accordingly, Campbell is doing what he does best — spinning. He's crafted a narrative with himself at the centre. And, the mental health card is only second to the race card as unassailable in the current climate. Having seen the Windsor boys exploit the mental health issue to regain lustre for their damaged brand, Campbell jumped at the opportunity.
Now, I know, instances of well-known people talking about their struggle with mental illness can encourage others to consider seeking help. I get that. Yet, I'm far from convinced with Campbell. I'd maybe change my mind if he donated the profits from his book to the Iraq kids who lost arms and legs. Instead, Campbell has jumped on the gravy train getting himself appointed as a mental health ambassador. No doubt that will earn him speaking engagements to keep the revenue stream running and himself in the limelight.
Meanwhile, Campbell's mate and partner in crime, Tony Blair, pops up to review the book. Blair is looking like a haunted shell of his former self. In recent years, he's acquired a worn and haggard look. Considering what is on his mind, this is no surprise. On the other hand, waking up next to Cherie can't help matters. Anyway, Blair opted to bury his psychosis in religion, something he kept quiet about that while in office at Campbell's bidding because "We don't do God".
Since leaving office, Blair has 'done God' big time with his conversion to the Catholic faith. Could that permanently pained expression be a realisation he's to burn in hell for eternity? Campbell, as an atheist, has no such worries. His concern should be the impact of cognitive dissonance, which is most painful when evidence strikes at the heart of how we see ourselves— when it threatens beliefs that we are kind, ethical, competent, or smart.
Marcel Pagnol, in his play 'The Glory Merchants', asserted "In politics, everything is a comedy." Well, there is nothing funny about this pair. It's time for Blair and Campbell to stop talking and go away. We've heard enough from these Janus-faced men.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.