This morning, I posted a series of satirical musical videos about the Johnson/Cummings scandal. In one, I wore a Guards tie and military medals, and impersonated (not as well as Matt Lucas) Boris Johnson.
Since, I have been engaged in a heated public row on twitter with defence minister Johnny Mercer, who made a number of false allegations about my time working for the Blair government. I stand by what I said to Mr Mercer in reply, though I have also corresponded privately on the matter in a more measured way, to point out both my family and personal connections with the military, and also some of the issues on which he criticised me, such as Northern Ireland, to which I have devoted much time and energy over two decades.
I also pointed out that since leaving the employ of the government in 2003, I have continued to work, pro bono, and always privately, for different parts of the military, including recently during this crisis. Indeed, he seemed to be aware of one element of this work. I also actively support military charities, especially on mental health.
However, I subsequently learned that Help for Heroes, for whom I have enormous admiration for their campaigning, fund-raising and service delivery skills, had politely requested me to take down the video. Though they removed their tweet at some time during my discussion with Mr Mercer, I understand it said that while they had no doubt it was not my intention to cause offence, there was a risk some might take it.
I have therefore deleted the video. Help for Heroes is right that no offence was meant. I was satirising Mr Johnson, whose conduct during the Covid crisis, especially in recent days, I have found reprehensible. I have spent many days writing and campaigning in a hopefully serious way on the issues at stake, and decided this morning to do something more light-hearted. Most people seemed to see it for what it was – a piece of satire, especially as I have never served in the Guards, let alone won military medals.
The tie and medals were left to me in his will by my brother Donald, who served in the Scots Guards (pictured above, Northern Ireland) until he was invalided out with schizophrenia. Anyone who knows how close we were knows I would never do anything to mock him, his memory, his medals, or what the Armed Forces stand for. Despite the unhappy ending to his military career, he had nothing but good memories and respect for what he learned and experienced with them. He remained an avid supporter of the Scots Guards Association until his death four years ago, aged 62, months after the photo below was taken.
Donald was very much of the ‘lions led by donkeys’ variety in his views of the military; I have always been a huge supporter of the armed forces at all levels, and among my good friends are people I met while working with the military during and since my time with Tony Blair.
As I told Mr Mercer, I am in a genuine rage about the government’s catastrophic handling of the Covid crisis, and the more they ask me to stop scrutinising and challenging them, the more I will do it.
However, Help for Heroes is an entirely different matter. I am grateful both for the tone and the content of their request to remove the video. Although their tweet seems to have been deleted, perhaps as a result of them seeing my comments to Mr Mercer, I nonetheless think the right thing for me to do is to remove the video, so they, and anyone who may have taken offence, can be absolutely sure that such offence to them was the last thing I had in mind. It was directed entirely at Mr Johnson and his government colleagues, and I am sorry if that was not clear.
The medals are now back with the display of the rest of the memorabilia from Donald’s military and musical life in my office, and having said on TV this morning I would not play my pipes (also left to me by Donald) in the street at 8pm tonight. in protest at the government lie that ‘we are all in this together,’ I have been prevailed upon by some of the children in the street to give it one last gasp, as Johnson called the ventilator procurement scheme.
It’s like Durham Dom … I am a sucker when it comes to doing it all for the children!
Do you know, I am finding a new respect for you in all this. Your analysis of the government’s efforts, and your initial constructive comments, have been spot on. I’m not sure who originated this comment, but we are surely lions lead by dead donkeys.
Your video was do wrong in many ways, even if it was a spoof parody.
You shouldn’t devalue the lose of life in the Northern Ireland troubles by using the Medal earned in blood, sweat and tears in your video. I as a combat medic personally treated comrades blinded and injured by IED’s on the streets of Belfast crying out in pain whilst the local population clapping in joy at British soldiers laying on the ground lives changed forever.
Mr Campbell, please think before you do anything so stupid again.
Prick..! Check Help 4 Heroes accounts on Companies House.. they have been under investigation by the Charities Commission for fraud for years. 6 figure salaries for Bryn & Emma Parry, plus 2 other family members.!
Your brother will be turning in his grave, Military Medals aren’t “Won” they are “Earned” through blood, sweat and tears.
You should be fucking ashamed.
A pissed off Veteran.!
Alastair You do not look well, I too suffer from depression and although we are at different ends of political scale I saw the video and felt truly and sincerely concerned for your health. You have suffered bigger setbacks than the one you face now and we both could take the advice of not be too concerned when things do not not go our way.
Take care, I really am on the opposite side politically but sincerely do value your contribution to all things political.
Look after yourself.
I use the word sir lightly. I have lost brothers and sisters in combat in many campaigns. What you did in the video was a total disrespect to those who have served, and are still serving.
Also a disrespect to our Sovereign was not the brightest of ideas.
I also note that you were friends with Martin McGuinness a Provisional Irish Republican Army Leader (I use the word leader loosely)
It would be nice to see you put a video out stating that you regret doing what you did and you regret it.
I doubt I will get a reply but I will look forward to maybe getting one.
There’s no “may” have taken offence. I know of over a hundred veterans who definitely took offence and expressed it “eloquently” on a facebook group.
To be fair, you start with the disadvantage that they are already offended by the way you spin doctored them into a futile war in Iraq.
Lesson learned, I suppose.
its not Satire its shit you moron, you should stand and be accounted for when you sent Briitsh soldiers to Iraq along with that piece of scum Blair
Well if they are your brothers medals read the rules and regs for wearing your relatives medals. They are to be worn on the right side not as you were on the left. The miniature is to be worn on mess dress dinner jackets etc and originals on official engagements.
The veterans find it abhorrent that you should try to poke fun of the government and politicise things using medals and a tie as props.
So much respect you and bliar lied and got 180 of them killed. I’m ex Scots Guards and I look forward to reading your obituary.
Mr Campbell,whilst you might have thought it funny and to try and lighten the mood many of my friends who served along side each other lost a lot of them to serious injury and death
As a we are now entering our twilight years we take great offence to anyone wearing military decorations they are not entitled to,I have never appreciated your type of politics but you have the right to express those views as we all have so please don`t take this as a personal attack on you as it is just meant to be a criticism of I hope a slight lack of judgement.
David L Carnell
First, may I say this is not about politics. I am so surprised at your inability to understand how offensive your attempt at satire would be. I too was a Scots Guardsman. I have thick skin I think, but your cameo was genuinely shocking; somehow using your brothers service in our Regiment as mitigation simply rubbed salt into a wound you had already inflicted. I had always assumed you to be bright and especially able to understand the impact of communication.
Huge respect, Alastair. You are one of the few people, in these difficult and divisive times, to be both holding the government to account and, as you put it so well, ‘speaking human’. Utter admiration, for your humanity, empathy, rigour, integrity and clarity of thought. PS this is only the second time that I have commented upon (or even, probably, visited) your blog. The last time was in 2015, when you wrote the most beautiful and understanding testament of friendship, after the death of Charles Kennedy. My best friend, of nearly 30 years, had died, the month or possibly two months before, I think, of alcohol withdrawal. She was found, alone, stiff & blue, 10 days later, in her cold bath. Your piece about Charles Kennedy is something that I often, still now, forward on, to friends who are suffering from addiction problems, or to those who are around friends and family who suffer from addiction, trying to do their best. All of them, without exception, have been given some extra jolt of life from it. Bravo. Please don’t stop.
Alastair, You are a complete @rse! Using those medals disrespects your brother and myself still serving with over 40 years service, you where the dodgy dossier man that killed over 4oo uk servicemen. Shame on you.
Why has my comment been automatically deleted?
You still mocked the Armed Forces of this country…totally uncalled for no matter who you were directing your so called satire at…you are a disgrace and should make a public apology …in the press to all HM Armed Forces.
What a disgusting person you are. If you feel so strongly about politics why don’t you send for election?
You are still an arseshole
Such a vile individual!
You have made yourself look a prat. As a x service man I would prefer if you keep your stupid remarks to yourself.
Bull shit, you insulted all former military and now realise you made a mistake, too late you pompous twat.
What have you become? I’ve served alongside men from East Lancashire and found the m to be straight talking, strong, no-nonsense blokes who stood up for their principles no matter what against any odds. They were analytical in a ‘out of the box’ way but nearly always stopped the young officers from erring – and by the way they did not regard them as Donkeys but helped educate them.
Wearing someone else’s medals, anybody’s, is either an act of respect if done properly is a powerful act of respect but when it’s done the way you have done it ‘talking the piss’ it is a gross act of indecency you will have to live with and take to your grave.
You have disgraced Lancashire, Burnley, servicemen of this country and of course your family name. Shame on you. Your bubble has just burst and not just the Westminster one.
You probably won’t read this but I feel all the better for getting it off my chest as you and Stephen Fry recommend.
Hope you saw the blog I posted, apologising
I have not seen the video. Sounds like it was a mistake for which there has been a speedy apology. A veteran myself that has come close to the edge a few times I would like to add some balance. At the height of my mental health problems I turned to Alastair and a few others. If we make the comparison with the Cummings’ responses Alastair was first out the traps with help , empathy and guidance. He was swiftly followed by Andrew Mitchell (this was at the height of Plebgate) a lengthy , thoughtful and useful response.
My own MP Nadine Dorries not a bloody word of help. Two visits to surgeries a number of letters, E mails.
Guess you got this one wrong !
I have just two observations / questions. First, a question: what on earth has a satire on Boris Johnson got to do with the military? I am genuinely baffled as Boris never served in the military so I don’t understand why you would wear a Guards tie and the General Service Medal to impersonate him.
Second, an observation: you trumpet your good work for Northern Ireland and the military and then state that it was not your intention to cause offence. Surely, if you knew anything about the military and NI, you would know that the inappropriate wearing of medals on the left hand side when you are not entitled to do so, would (and has) caused considerable offence to the military community, particularly those who have served in NI. The reason I know this, is that I saw your post on a Facebook page set up by members and ex members of my old regiment (l served for 12 years, including two years in NI during the hunger strikes). The comments about your post are not repeatable here I am afraid.
Finally, a request: please treat your brother’s medal and tie with the respect they deserve. By all means wear the (full size) medal on the right hand side at remembrance time (as you are entitled to do) but please, behave in a fitting manner when doing so. Those of us who served deserve better than this appalling performance.
Yes Herr Campbell, I agree with you on 1 point, there are lions and donkeys, your brother was a lion but you on the other hand, are the donkey, you are in total denial over Brexit, and judging by your total rants and ravings you are on a
rapid downward spiral to a mental breakdown.