Campbell lashes out at new Blair movie

Alastair Campbell has lashed out at a new film portraying the relationship between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.

‘Special Relationship’, which stars the same actors as the hugely successful ‘The Queen’, covers the years in which Mr Blair and Mr Clinton cemented their friendship, only to be tested by the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the war in Kosovo.

“The gap between what actually happened and what is portrayed is even bigger in ‘The Special Relationship’ than in ‘The Queen’,” Mr Campbell told Radio Times.

“What’s more, there is enough material out there for that to have been discerned, which makes me think the makers simply decided facts would not be allowed to get in the way of a good story.

“The ‘story’ is of young Tony Blair [TB] essentially using the weakening of Bill Clinton via Monica Lewinsky, and TB’s genuine revulsion at ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, to make himself the main man on the world stage. And it ends, improbably, with Clinton at Chequers watching on as TB talks on the phone to George Bush, and then telling his young heir that he always had doubts about him and wonders now whether he was ever a progressive at all. Somewhere between fanciful and preposterous,” he continued.

“The film gets nowhere near the truth about the TB/Clinton relationship and the final scenes expose the film-makers’ real agenda – to have the Clinton character warning TB in lurid terms not to get too close to Bush. Iraq isn’t mentioned, but it is clearly what Clinton’s comments are designed to put in mind.”

Mr Campbell, who has criticised most attempts to put New labour on film, was director of communications and a key Blair confidante during the events which take place in the film.

“TB and Clinton were and are close,” he added.

“I was there when they first met, at the US ambassador’s residence in London when we were in opposition. They got on easily, and quickly a relationship developed that went beyond the political and became personal.

“Contrary to the impression given by the film, there was never any question of TB being anything other than supportive during the Lewinsky affair. 9/11 was not the only time he resolutely decided to go ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with an American president.”

Asked about ‘The Queen’, Mr Campbell gave it “four or five out of ten” for accuracy. Asked about the character of Malcolm Tucker in the film ‘In The Loop’, who is clearly based on the former communication director, he said it “didn’t ring true”.

The film, the third in screenwriter Peter Morgan’s ‘Blair trilogy’, is due to be broadcast on Saturday on BBC2.