Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister’s press secretary, is
apparently following up his triumphs in Kosovo - which was a
presentational disaster almost from the beginning to beyond the end of
hostilities - by trying to sort out the European Union’s way of doing
its PR business.
The secret, it seems, is strong central co-ordination. Sooner or later
it will dawn on dear old Alastair that those who are not dependent on
Tony Blair’s patronage - such as sovereign NATO nations and EU
commissioners - do not readily respond to the whims of Napoleon, as
Labour MP Tam Dalyell described our Prime Minister. I live in hope that
Mr Campbell will also discover in Britain at least that substance
matters and that not everything can be finessed away through a poodle
media which will become less lapdogish with the passing years.
The underlying reality of Kosovo was that few NATO leaders, apart from
Mr Blair, had any real stomach for halting genocide and, because they
were terrified of the consequences of the indiscriminate killing of
Yugoslav civilians and casualties among their own servicemen, were
driven to highly targeted air strikes which sometimes went wrong.
Every one of those nations, plus a NATO heaving with
bureaucratic/military rivalries, had therefore its own idiosyncratic
approach to briefing its own political publics.
Europe is controlled by a Franco-German axis which is fundamentally
undemocratic and which has chosen a man - Romano Prodiâ who is pursued
by allegations in his native Italy, to clean out its Augean stable of
fraud and corruption.
The last commission’s failure to muck out the mistal led to its sacking
but the fired commissioners are queuing up to resume their
well-upholstered lifestyles unless, or until, they can find a better
commercial ’ole to go to.
All the black arts of PR, spin doctoring and the inspired use of smoke
and mirrors cannot turn the blood of Kosovo into NATO wine or the pig’s
ear of Brussels into a EU silk purse. Nor can the understandable desire
to perpetuate what passes for ’peace’ in Northern Ireland disguise the
disgraceful pressure which is being applied to democrats there to share
an executive bed with terrorist front men with rockets, bombs and
Kalishnikovs still under the pillow.
I hold no brief for master-race Unionists - I despise them - still less
their terrorists. But the awful reality of Northern Ireland is that,
behind the fog of PR, a democratically-elected British government is
seeking to impose in a one-man-one-vote democracy terrorist-backed
ministers, as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness would no doubt become if
David Trimble capitulated, with a private army at their disposal. And a
private army which has surrendered not so much as a peashooter in spite
of the moral obligations of the so-called peace process. Oh PR, what
crimes are committed in thy name.