The fact that Tony Blair was interrupted by Campbell during an interview with the reminded ‘we don’t do God’ is surely shocking.
An editorial in the London Daily Telegraph on Monday 5th May 2003 wryly comments:
One could write a book about everything that this little intervention has to tell us about Mr Blair and his style of government, and about Britain in 2003……
Further evidence of Number 10’s anxiety to avoid religious rhetoric during the Iraq war emerged yesterday in an article in The Times by Sir Peter Stothard, the newspaper’s former editor.
While having make-up applied for his screen appearance on the eve of hostilities in Iraq, the Prime Minister reportedly told his staff: “I want to end with, ‘God bless you’.”
At this point, according to The Times article, there was “a noisy team revolt in which every player appears to be complaining at once”. Staff said that this was “not a good idea”, to which an irritated Mr Blair – raising his voice – responded: “Oh no?”
One unidentified member of the Blair team reportedly replied: “You are talking to lots of people who don’t want chaplains pushing stuff down their throats.”
When the Prime Minister responded by saying: “You are the most ungodly lot I have ever . . .”, his speechwriter Peter Hyman, who is Jewish, replied tartly: “Ungodly? Count me out.”
Others intervened in what was becoming an impromptu theological debate: “That’s not the same God.” Mr Blair remained defiant. “It is the same God,” he said.
In the end, however, the religious phrase was not used and the message ended with a simple “Thank you”. According to The Times article, Mr Blair also said that he was ready to “meet his Maker” and account for his decision to go to war in Iraq.
Telegraph | Opinion | A question of faith How very strange that Mr Campbell is happy to tell the world about his own past struggles against alcoholism and mental breakdown, but shudders to hear his employer mentioning his religion. Mr Blair should trust more in the Almighty, and less in Alastair Campbell.
This is the same Blair who spoke of his generation as having a Spiritual need, and who once told the nation that conservatism was inconsistent with Christianity.
This is indeed a sad indictment on our nation!