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Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Alastair Campbell, Good Bloke, 18 March 2004

... If you search for images of Alastair Campbell 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. It shows Campbell standing outside, wearing a suit and tie, his right arm folded across his body, a scroll of paper in his hand ...


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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... as long as possible. Although making sense in and of the world is not irrelevant to a review of Alastair Campbell’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 would round up to a respectable 3000 words with a ...


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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... all-out war, because at the moment we have the upper hand. The person to whom Blair said that was Alastair Campbell, 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 wonder, if he saw things so clearly, how on earth he ...

Our Guy

John Barnie: Blair’s Style, 20 January 2011

... 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 would call …’, ‘your ordinary motorist’, ‘your ...

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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... debased. In the immediate aftermath of the report’s publication, the Napoleonic posture of Alastair Campbell, 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 images with which Hutton will now always be ...


Alan Bennett: Postscript, 19 February 2004

... Some notes, though. Revealing, since his vanity was the main issue, were the settings in which Alastair Campbell 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 it. Almost the only heartening note was ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: On Bullshit, 17 April 2003

... to wait for the arrival of the man the bullshitters urge us to look on as the mother of them all, Alastair Campbell, 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 former Labour voters who are appalled by ...

Short Cuts

Mary-Kay Wilmers: Remembering D.A.N. Jones, 2 January 2003

... has ever produced’. The British used to do the journalist-politician very well. Now we have Alastair Campbell. 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 very plainly, but he was also more interesting ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: Reading Butler, 5 August 2004

... the intelligence wordings in the worrying sense. It’s quite extraordinary that the ghastly Alastair Campbell, 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 Joint Intelligence Committee but – Butler ...

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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... secretary, William ‘Bronco Bill’ Sutherland, had a reputation every bit as evil as that of Alastair Campbell 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 spokesman, William Clark, was startled to get a call ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Dirtiest Player Around, 10 October 2013

... the violence that Brown wished on his enemies. The underling was working towards the Führer. Alastair Campbell, 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 was like a footballer who was happy to kick his ...


David Runciman: Blair Hawks His Wares, 31 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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... accuses of having no sense of purpose: a grinning fool he derides for prancing around in front of Alastair Campbell 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 deliverologist. The reason the last matters is that it allowed ...

Mirror Images

Jenny Diski: Piers Morgan, 31 March 2005

The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade 
by Piers Morgan.
Ebury, 484 pp., £17.99, March 2005, 0 09 190506 0
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... Branson, Paul McCartney, Patsy Kensit, Ian Botham, Jordan, Mohammed al Fayed, Cherie Blair, Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair. (If there are names in that list you haven’t heard of, don’t worry, none of them matters as much as they think they do.) At a Christmas lunch at the Mirabelle for his Mirror columnists, Morgan remembers ...

Ruthless and Truthless

Ferdinand Mount: Rotten Government, 6 May 2021

The Assault on Truth: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Emergence of a New Moral Barbarism 
by Peter Oborne.
Simon and Schuster, 192 pp., £12.99, February 2021, 978 1 3985 0100 3
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Political Advice: Past, Present and Future 
edited by Colin Kidd and Jacqueline Rose.
I.B. Tauris, 240 pp., £21.99, February 2021, 978 1 83860 120 1
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... by us,’ New Labour told government press officers at the outset. Less well remembered perhaps is Alastair Campbell’s creation of a head of ‘story development’. The post of official fabulist was filled by Paul Hamill, who would play an inglorious role in the fabrication of the Dodgy Dossier of September 2002.We weren’t careful what we half-wished ...


W.G. Runciman: Exit Blair, 24 May 2007

... to do and had then arranged to be sheltered from any information that might have given him pause. (Alastair Campbell 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 as he could genuinely believe that the invasion ...

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