Sunday, February 1
We seem to have forgotten that a man took his own life
Melanie McDonagh, The Observer, February 1, 2004
The Kelly/Hutton/BBC/Gilligan/Blair affair is a big boy's battle. Women - well, most of them - have got much more sense...
One of the unspoken realities about news and current affairs is how often that arena gets turned into a boys' playground. Because however much we pretend that the sexes see the world exactly the same, women's views of what is important, and not, is by no means the same as men's.
It struck home that the Hutton inquiry and the row that followed was one for the boys when a girlfriend rang me up after Alastair Campbell's bravura swagger on the staircase at the Foreign Press Association after his vindication by the inquiry. 'Hutton...' she said, sotto voce. 'Big dicks.' And you know what? I could see exactly what she meant.
The elements that appeal to the nerdy, detail-obsessed, slightly autistic and testosterone-sensitive personality that is the political male are stamped all over the Hutton affair.
First of all, there's the street-fight element. That's always attractive to the weedy boys looking on as well as to the bruisers.
Campbell, in every single aspect of this row - in defeat, spite; in victory, revenge - had the look of a man who was going to make the fight dirty. His diary quote (he was going to fuck Gilligan)
--summed up the tone, and the obsessive and vicious personal element of his vendetta with Andrew Gilligan and the BBC was borne out right to Friday's bullish performance on stage in South Shields.