“and TB just listened..”

Michael White points out that, with Alastair Campbell’s diaries, the risk is partly ”is this story so heavily self-censored that it’s not worth the £25 which Hutchison’s is asking?”. But the extracts, “designed incidentally to whet the public appetite for the book without going through the perils of sensationalising serialisation rights”, include an entry from December 11, 1997 in which the focus is the differently remembered histories.. but the detail is interesting.From the extract

Of the women, I could not work out whether they really mattered, or whether they just took them round to look a bit less hard. They were tough as boots all three of them. TB was good in the use of language and captured the sense of occasion. He said we faced a choice of history – violence and despair, or peace and progress. We were all taking risks, but they are risks worth taking. He said to Adams he wanted to be able to look him in the eye, hear him say he was committed to peaceful means, and he wanted to believe him.

I was eyeing their reaction to TB the whole time, and both Adams and McG regularly let a little smile cross their lips. Mo got pissed off, volubly, when they said she wasn’t doing enough. TB was maybe not as firm as we had planned, but he did ask – which I decided not to brief, and knew they wouldn’t – whether they would be able to sign up to a settlement that did not explicitly commit to a united Ireland. Adams was OK, McGuinness was not. Adams said the prize of a lasting peace justifies the risks. Lloyd George, Balfour, Gladstone, Cromwell, they all thought they had answers of sorts. We want our answers to be the endgame. A cobbled-together agreement will not stand the test of time.

He pushed hard on prisoners being released, and the aim of total demilitarisation, and TB just listened. TB said he would not be a persuader for a united Ireland. The principle of consent was central to the process.

We’ve yet to see whether our new democratic institutions can withstand the truth..

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