Tony Blair’s former spin-doctor, Alastair Campbell, today lost his temper with Breitbart’s James Delingpole in an ill-mannered contribution to a radio debate about Boris Johnson’s recent Hitler comments.
The clash between the two men took place on LBC radio’s morning show, after presenter Nick Ferrari asked: “Is Boris going bonkers?”
James Delingpole described Mr. Johnson’s article in which he made reference to Hitler’s ambition to unite Europe as a “fairly innocuous” one in which he made “an unexceptionable historical point” which is “historically provable” as “simple fact”.
He added that Michael Heseltine’s response to it was “a nonsense” and that just quoting his “ridiculous inflammatory words” without making reference to the actual “completely harmless” article is “very unfair”.
It was all too much for Alastair Campbell, who described Mr. Delingpole’s comments as “right-wing bilge” which left him “very closely gagging”.
He then appeared to control his initial urges, and settled into an extended criticism of Mr. Johnson’s “gigantic ego trip”. However, rather than arguing in favour of continued European Union (EU) membership, he ignored substantive points in order to deride Brexit campaigners, explaining: “I actually think Boris Johnson is a charlatan.”
Mr. Campbell — who as Director of Communications and Strategy to Tony Blair had been involved with the so-called ‘Dodgy Dossier’ on Iraq — proceeded to accuse Brexit campaigners of “playing a very dangerous game” adding that he wished they would do so “on a basis of fact”.
Mr. Delingpole then responded that all he had heard was “cant” from Mr. Campbell, just “more rage and nastiness” which meant he had not “advanced the intelligent debate at all.” In saying so he said he imagined the former spin doctor is “very much part of the Remain campaign” and “on message”, asking if he got that “from Remain HQ.”
After a couple of challenges to his opinions on Europe, Mr. Delingpole summed up his position as “arguing for sovereignty and democracy.” He then asked Mr. Campbell if he is familiar with those terms, saying “they didn’t seem very evident in the Blair era when [he was] Blair’s right hand man.”
Soon after that Mr. Campbell really lost the plot.
He resorted to calling his opponent “a buffoon” for saying the EU is undemocratic — an attack which Mr. Delingpole laughed off, only to be called “an idiot” for not agreeing with the suggestion that democratic accountability is derived through elected ministers representing the UK at the Council of Ministers.
It remains to be seen whether the aggressive approach taken by Mr. Campbell will be rolled out across the Remain campaign as their nerves fray in the weeks approaching the referendum.