Sunday political television is not normally exceptional: the interviewers routinely get no change out of the players, who are generally immune to even the most forensic interrogation. This tends to make the experience one of wallpaper TV, as other tasks are given higher priority.
And so it was going to be today, until Big Al appeared on the Andy Marr Show. I have never previously seen Campbell stuck for words: his steely discipline before any inquisition is legendary. But this morning was different.
Having given Campbell the opportunity to plug his new novel Maya, Marr cut to the main event, which was the intelligence dossier put before cabinet and then Parliament, and whether Tony Blair – intentionally or otherwise – misled that Parliament. And as the questions were put, there was a strange silence, and the impression given that Campbell was having a car crash moment.
The pause was more, much more, than momentary. Marr, to his great credit, did not repeat his question: no further pressure was applied. Campbell eventually – after a very long silence – clawed his way back into the interview, asserting that all the repeated questioning, with the inference that the dismissal of answers given by himself and Blair was less than helpful – that it was “upsetting”.
If Campbell was play acting, it was a supremely inadvisable time and place to do it. Otherwise, the only conclusion that can be reached is that someone previously thought to be bullet proof before the media finally cracked.
Available, no doubt, on BBC iPlayer, and not good for Labour.