It shouldn’t be controversial to assume that one’s ability to enjoy this particular interchange may well rest ultimately on personal politics and the level of individual anger registered on the 2020 trigometer.
a nice reminder that we can actually maintain civility to those we might disagree with
For some, Alastair Campbell can never be divorced from the Iraq invasion of 2003; for others, he will always be the architect of things getting ‘better’ in 1997. But looking at him solely with 2020 vision, he is – to quote his twitter bio – a writer, communicator, consultant, strategist, and ambassador for the mental health charity Time to Change. In this capacity, Iain Dale’s All Talk was a good hour: Campbell robust in argument, Dale insistent that his personal assertions chimed with public ones. Putting aside any personal preferences for ranty, do-or-die discourse, the measured tone was a nice reminder that we can actually maintain civility to those we might disagree with, and that there is always room for grown-up discussion in these increasingly fractured times.
Perhaps I’ve spent too much time online or perhaps the febrile Parliamentary atmosphere of the last few years has got to me… but there is something in talking so politely of the momentous events of our times that is as troubling as it is refreshing. Not that an impassioned outburst from either contributor would have been appropriate or even productive, but it might have given just a sniff of moving the narrative of the UK beyond the stasis of 2020. As such, whilst the political commentary was both eloquent and pertinent, it was in Campbell’s discussion of living with depression that the conversation really took flight. His turn-of-the-century reputation as the sort of political bruiser who would have sprinkled Dominic Cummings on his Weetabix somehow makes his openness surrounding his mental health all the more powerful, and a strong role model for achieving beyond a diagnosis.
There may be those for whom Campbell will always vibrate with memories of Cool Britannia, Blair’s perma-grin and Islington luvvery, but it is clear that reducing what he has to say regarding one of the most incapacitating conditions of the day would be a grave mistake.