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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why is Blair risking migrant flood by helping Albanians to join the EU?

suns 


The Sun on Sunday ran a spread yesterday headlined "Why is Blair risking migrant flood by helping Albanians to join the EU?"
But I am asking a rather different question: what prompted the Sun on Sunday to investigate Tony Blair's involvement in Albania?

According to a blog item ahead of the article's publication by Blair's former communications chief, Alastair Campbell, the moving force could well have been the paper's owner, Rupert Murdoch.

Why? Campbell argues that "Murdoch tabloids are not exactly noted for their fair and balanced coverage of Europe, or of the Balkan states, or, since the apparent fall out between TB and Murdoch himself, about TB's earnings".*

Indeed not. But let's indulge in a moment of fantasy by imagining that the Sun on Sunday came up with the idea entirely of its own volition, rather than as part of Murdoch's agenda, by considering the article's content.
The intro stated that Blair had been "slammed for the way he is helping to ease one of Europe's poorest countries into the EU."

Naturally enough, I sought the slammer and/or slammers further down the story. It turned out to be a singular supposed slammer - an obscure Eurosceptic Tory MP, Nigel Mills.

Why supposed? Because Mills, in saying that Albania was an unsuitable candidate for EU membership, did not mention Blair by name or implication. There was, in other words, no slamming of Blair. The intro was false
The real slammer was the paper itself, or - to be more precise - Murdoch.
Now, let me make it clear, I have no political axe to grind here. I lost all respect for Blair ages ago. But let's criticise him for his genuine crimes and not for helping to build a stable democracy in a poor country that has suffered so much.

Tony Blair & Albanian PM Edi Rama
 Tony Blair & Albanian PM Edi Rama


I also spotted a pejorative reference to Campbell as a spin doctor. Firstly, this overlooks the fact that the greatest beneficiary of Campbell's spinning when he was in Downing Street was none other than The Sun itself.

Secondly, it is a rich to disdain spin in an article that amounted to nothing more than spin by the paper.
Finally, two points: first, see Campbell's blog to enjoy the faux polite email correspondence between him at the Sun on Sunday's reporter, Graeme Culliford.

Campbell accurately predicts the line the article will take as he details his own entirely reasonable relationship with the country's socialist prime minister, Edi Rama.
Second, since I remain on friendly terms with Campbell, let me state that I did not consult him, or even contact him, about writing this item. It's all my own spin.

*This paragraph was amended at 9.45am in order to correct the previous wrong representation of Campbell's quote

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