Alastair Campbell voting for the Lib Dems has 'more to do with his attitude to Seumas Milne than Europe', says former MEP David Martin
Alastair Campbell’s decision to vote for the Liberal Democrats at the European elections has “much more to do with his attitude to Seumas Milne than his attitude to Europe”, according to former Labour MEP David Martin.
Speaking to Holyrood, the UK's longest serving MEP launched a blistering attack on Campbell, after the former Downing Street Press Secretary was thrown out of Labour for revealing he had refused to back the party.
Responding, Martin accused Campbell of “fighting an old war”, adding “I don’t really remember Alastair being a strong spokesperson for European integration until recently, when it became a stick with which to beat the leadership”.
As Tony Blair's former spokesman and campaign director, Campbell has been fiercely critical of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party.
While Labour said supporting another party was "incompatible" with Labour membership, deputy leader Tom Watson today called for an "amnesty" for members disillusioned by the party's lack of "clarity" on Brexit.
But Martin told Holyrood there is a distinction between voters, put off by the party’s “ambivalence on Europe”, and party members, who he said “should be showing a loyalty”.
Martin said: “I find it a bit frustrating that those who have sat in their armchairs are now proudly proclaiming how they voted for another party. It’s not specifically about Scotland, it’s much more to do with my English colleagues, who are now proudly proclaiming how they didn’t go out and support them.
“I haven’t yet heard Alastair Campbell once say he regrets, for want of a better description, the roadkill as a result of his principles. He’s never really said he feels sorry for the MEPs who lost their seats. Some of my English colleagues are in a much less privileged position than I am, they’ve only been there for five years and they’ve been very active and committed members of parliament.”
He added: “I think every Labour candidate across the country was standing on a platform of remain and they would have expected senior figures to support them rather than undermine them. Frankly I think Alastair is fighting an old war, and this is much more to do with his attitude to Seamas Milne [Labour’s director of communications] than his attitude to Europe. I don’t really remember Alastair people a strong spokesperson for European integration until recently, when it became a stick with which to beat the leadership.
“It’s a very clear breach of the rules. I think he thought he was being clever by saying he was voting for Labour and not saying, until the polls closed, who he voted for. That demonstrates he knew exactly what he was doing. The games he was playing.”