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Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Alastair Campbell, Good Bloke

18 March 2004
... If you search for images of AlastairCampbell on Google, you will find, many times over, a picture taken by a Press Association photographer during the Hutton Inquiry. The photo is proliferating: it even graced a recent cover of Poetry Review ...


Jenny Diski: Alastair Campbell’s Dodgy Novel

6 November 2008
All in the Mind 
by Alastair Campbell.
Hutchinson, 297 pp., £17.99, November 2008, 978 0 09 192578 9
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... bearings about what makes sense, but also, quite gratuitously, to avoid grappling with my real task for as long as possible. Although making sense in and of the world is not irrelevant to a review of AlastairCampbell’s first novel, All in the Mind, it was my initial plan, after reading it, to extend the preliminary discussion of the niceties of sanity and madness to about 2975 words, after which I ...


John Lanchester: Alastair Campbell’s Diaries

16 August 2007
The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell​ Diaries 
edited by Alastair Campbell and Richard Stott.
Hutchinson, 794 pp., £25, July 2007, 978 0 09 179629 7
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... they did and they see us as all-powerful and they want their power back. So there was no point in all-out war, because at the moment we have the upper hand. The person to whom Blair said that was AlastairCampbell, whom he appointed to run his press operation shortly after becoming party leader. It is worth noticing how accurate Blair’s sense of the press-government relationship is: it makes you ...

Our Guy

John Barnie: Blair’s Style

20 January 2011
... over a game of ‘arrows’. He uses demotic conversational tags: ‘I kid you not’; ‘He was a lovely man, but really’; ‘Don’t get me wrong’; ‘Take my word for it’; ‘I said to Alastair, mark my words’; ‘didn’t matter a hoot to me’; ‘He conceded nothing, and I mean nothing’; ‘The whole business was barking.’ He uses the inclusive ‘your’: ‘what your Marxist ...


Alan Bennett: Postscript

19 February 2004
... 2 February 2004. There is nothing that has not been said. Some notes, though. Revealing, since his vanity was the main issue, were the settings in which AlastairCampbell chose to present himself: two Palladian interiors that would not have shamed a head of state. His simple joy at the vindication of the truth about as convincing as Jonathan Aitken’s dedication to ...

A Misreading of the Law

Conor Gearty: Why didn’t Campbell​ sue?

19 February 2004
Report of the Inquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Dr David Kelly CMG 
by Lord Hutton.
Stationery Office, 740 pp., £70, January 2004, 0 10 292715 4
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... so the political skills that had created the stage for this report began themselves to look increasingly debased. In the immediate aftermath of the report’s publication, the Napoleonic posture of AlastairCampbell, proclaiming his integrity from some sort of throne against a grand imperial backdrop, contrasted with the BBC employees’ mobbing of their departing director general to give us the two ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: On Bullshit

17 April 2003
... than by what the governing party had in practice failed to achieve. The citizenry didn’t have to wait for the arrival of the man the bullshitters urge us to look on as the mother of them all, AlastairCampbell, to distrust what all governments say, as opposed to what they are seen to be doing. On the other hand, the turnout at the next general election could be a lot lower still, as the great many ...

Short Cuts

Mary-Kay Wilmers: Remembering D.A.N. Jones

2 January 2003
... and envies Hazlitt his meeting with Cobbett: ‘the most valuable journalist-politician this country has ever produced’. The British used to do the journalist-politician very well. Now we have AlastairCampbell. David was for a time a Labour councillor but he was more susceptible to the charms of political commentary. He presented himself as a plain man, and on occasion stated his own point of view ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: Reading Butler

5 August 2004
... t do, as we might have known he wouldn’t, is tell us how many individuals and which ones adulterated the intelligence wordings in the worrying sense. It’s quite extraordinary that the ghastly AlastairCampbell, Blair’s PR man now turned vaudevillian, was not even asked to give evidence to Butler’s committee. The incriminated dossier of September 2002 was of course presented as the work of the ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Dirtiest Player Around

9 October 2013
... the Third Reich. McBride didn’t need to take direct orders from his boss because he already understood the violence that Brown wished on his enemies. The underling was working towards the Führer. AlastairCampbell, speaking on Andrew Neil’s Daily Politics, thinks the proper analogy is with football. McBride was a rogue player so set on mindless aggression that he fouled people all over the pitch. He ...

Living with Monsters

Ferdinand Mount: PMs v. the Media

22 April 2010
Where Power Lies: Prime Ministers v. the Media 
by Lance Price.
Simon & Schuster, 498 pp., £20, February 2010, 978 1 84737 253 6
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... the maxim: ‘What you can’t square, you squash. What you can’t squash, you square.’ His press secretary, William ‘Bronco Bill’ Sutherland, had a reputation every bit as evil as that of AlastairCampbell or Gordon Brown’s frightful pair, Charlie Whelan and Damian ‘McPoison’ McBride. Nor was it always the PM’s press spokesmen who dripped the poison. At the time of Suez, Eden’s ...


W.G. Runciman: Exit Blair

24 May 2007
... had persuaded himself of both the practicality and the virtuousness of what he had made up his mind to do and had then arranged to be sheltered from any information that might have given him pause. (AlastairCampbell to John Scarlett, 17.9.02: ‘He is not exactly a “don’t know” on the issue.’) He could therefore genuinely believe in the existence of threatening weapons of mass destruction, just ...


David Runciman: Blair Hawks His Wares

30 March 2016
Broken Vows: Tony Blair – The Tragedy of Power 
by Tom Bower.
Faber, 688 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 0 571 31420 1
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... the opposite of a lifestyle politician: he is more like a mystic. Yet he is the same Blair whom Bower accuses of having no sense of purpose: a grinning fool he derides for prancing around in front of AlastairCampbell in his yellow and green underpants. The truth is that Blair was all these people and more: the mystic, the fool, the sofa politician, the neocon, the preacher on a tank and the ...

Blair Must Go

Peter Clarke: Why Tony Blair should go

11 September 2003
... an important line has been crossed. This has become a zero-sum game, which one side can win only if the other loses. The Government has entered into a bitter tactical skirmish about whether it was AlastairCampbell who manipulated the evidence. But suppose he is totally and utterly exonerated of this specific charge. This simply sharpens the infinitely more damaging strategic issue: if Campbell did not ...

At The Hutton Enquiry

Daniel Soar: Hutton’s Big Top

11 September 2003
... some of the excised sections of evidence aren’t very well blacked out). And here is a question put by James Dingemans QC (Lord Hutton’s chief – and, currently, chiefly benign – inquisitor) to AlastairCampbell: ‘Mr Powell told us yesterday that you had told him that Mr Baldwin had told you that the person who told him this information was Mr Sambrook.’ Campbell’s answer: no, it was more ...

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