Tony Blair’s former press secretary, Alistair Campbell, heard those words from the Guardian’s Michael White on 5 November 1991 – and promptly punched him in the face.
Campbell was the not-so-humble political editor on the Daily Mirror at the time and it had just been reported that his paper’s proprietor, Cap’n Bob Maxwell, had drowned after mysteriously plunging off the back of his yacht. Maxwell was a crook, whose various crimes were subsequently proven to include looting the Mirror pension fund. Michael White reacted to the news of his death with what he described as ‘unbridled glee’, walking from newspaper office to newspaper office in the Palace of Westminster telling everyone he came across that ‘It shows there is a god!’
Campbell’s loyalty to his employer was as great then as it was to be towards Tony Blair later. The next day, in a paper stuffed with pages of Maxwell tributes, he wrote:
‘He was a big man with a big heart, helping sick employees in need and backing charities.’
Ten years later, Michael White revisited out the incident at length in the Guardian. ‘It is a little-reported fact that I hit him back …’ he wrote. ‘After half a dozen blows we were pulled apart by assorted peacemakers, greater in number as the years have passed, a bit like the IRA men who later claimed to have been in the Dublin post office during the Easter Rising.’
#233: Democracy on the Wing ● Thelma Walker on regional autonomy ● An interview with Clive Lewis ● The World Transformed ● Gender, sexuality and witchcraft ● The globalisation of ‘Asian horror’ ● A tribute to Dawn Foster ● Latest book reviews ● And much more!
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Bliss Cua Lim looks at how the female ghost subgenre illuminates efforts to globalise ‘Asian horror’
David J. Lobina rediscovers a forgotten but fascinating figure in London’s radical and Jewish history
Sabrina Huck argues that a generational shift away from the Conservative Party can’t be taken for granted
Tina Ngata explains the social and legal legacies of a 15th-century Christian principle that paved the way for imperial violence in, and far beyond, New Zealand
Claudia Rankine's collection perfectly illustrates the power of frank conversations with white people on race and racism, writes Kimberly McIntosh
Voter suppression and systematic exclusion cast a pall over the world's biggest 'democracy', writes Kavita Krishnan
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