Blair spokesman Tom Kelly has issued a statement unreservedly apologizing for imputing Mittyism to the late David Kelly. According to the story in Wednesday’s Telegraph, “He said it was a mistake and apologised unreservedly for intruding on the family’s grief.” Kelly explained that he had been trying to outline questions that would have to be addressed by the pending inquiry on the suicide of David Kelly.
“It was in that context that the phrase ‘Walter Mitty’ was used, but it was meant as one of several questions facing all parties, not as a definitive statement of my view or that of the Government. I now recognise that even that limited form of communication was a mistake, given the current climate.”
According to the accompanying Telegraph editorial, this apology will not do. “It was not good enough for Tom Kelly, the spokesman in question, to say yesterday that ‘given the current climate’, his remark had been a ‘mistake’. It was thoroughly offensive, as it would have been in any climate.”
And in an analytical sidebar, the Telegraph’s political editor explains that Tony Blair is suffering a John Major moment: “The press treatment of the ‘lippygate’ photographs of Cherie Blair and [Mrs. Blair’s confidant] Carole Caplin on the Blairs’ marital bed in Downing Street is a further example of the changing attitude to the Prime Minister. Some columnists have questioned whether Mrs Blair was ‘loopy’ to allow herself to be intimately photographed with Miss Caplin applying her lipstick. [Last Saturday the Daily Mail published photographs of Miss Caplin sunbathing topless during her current vacation in the Maldives, where topless sunbathing is illegal. What about teatgate?]
“It is reminiscent of the damage done to Mr Major’s image by the accusation that he tucked his shirt into his underpants, widely attributed to Mr Campbell in his days as a newspaper journalist before he became New Labour’s official propagandist. The apology from Tom Kelly, Mr Blair’s official spokesman, to Dr Kelly’s family has again cast the spotlight on the Downing Street spin machine.”
In yet another sidebar, a Telegraph political correspondent explains how it is that Tom Kelly went off the rails: “[F]or the last five years at least, Mr Kelly has flourished as a government spin doctor by being able to accommodate the wishes of his masters. Lord Hutton [conducting the inquiry into the death of David Kelly] presumably will want to consider whether the same applied this time.”
Have we forgotten lippygate so soon? Lord Hutton will also presumably want to consider whether the seeds of destruction were sown in lippygate.
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