Daily Archives: January 12, 2010

Jim Pickard

A curious email was sent out this afternoon, purporting to be from Peter Slowe, chair of the Labour Finance and Industry Group. In it, Dr Slowe apparently called for Harriet Harman to quit. Yes, really.

UPDATE: Slowe has said it’s nothing to do with him – instead he says it was a mistaken publicity attempt by his PR advisers. 

Alastair Campbell has hasn’t given an inch on the infamous intelligence dossier. There have been a few laughs in the press room, not least when he claimed he was never obsessed with headlines.

One recurrent theme (apart from his insistence that nothing was wrong with the dossier) is his reluctance to say a bad word against Sir John Scarlett, the then head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, who he holds in “huge regard”. 

Jim Pickard

The government’s ludicrously-named “Salt Cell” (do they meet in a salt cellar?) gathered this morning. I’m told the result is bad for motorists in those parts of London still afflicted with deep snow (note to London-based journalists: just because it’s melted here doesn’t mean the issue has gone away)

 

We’ve had the first session of Alastair Campbell’s testimony. Even the committee were annoyed with his habit of dissembling and sidestepping questions. But right at the end Campbell did finally add something to the narrative of the lead up to war. It emerged that Blair wrote to Bush at several points through 2002 making clear Britain’s commitment to disarming Saddam through military action, should it prove necessary. In Campbell’s words, Blair said “Britain will definitely be there”.

Before that the most striking part has been Campbell’s willingness to front-up to Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s former ambassador to Washington. He’s already managed to accuse him of being “churlish” and “inaccurate” and “overstated” in describing Tony Blair’s role. I’m sure Sir Christopher, who is no shrinking violet, will have something to say about that. 

Jim Pickard

That means a March Budget before the Easter break, according to Treasury insiders, with campaigning to begin in earnest when MP return from their holiday.

One government whip said that May 6 was now the assumption around which the party was working. This was confirmed by a senior union source, who told me the chances of a March poll were “no chance or even less”. An April election was feasible but still unlikely unless the economic data showed a sudden recovery, he said. 

Alastair Campbell has started testifying publicly before a committee investigating the Iraq war for the fourth time. For those of you who want to check what he has said before, here are the links:

Hutton Inquiry 1 and Hutton Inquiry 2