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At The Hutton Enquiry

Daniel Soar: Hutton’s Big Top, 11 September 2003

... by James Dingemans QC (Lord Hutton’s chief – and, currently, chiefly benign – inquisitor) to Alastair Campbell: ‘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 complicated than ...

Blair Must Go

Peter Clarke: Why Tony Blair should go, 11 September 2003

... the other loses. The Government has entered into a bitter tactical skirmish about whether it was Alastair Campbell 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 exaggerate ...

Not My Fault

John Lanchester: New Labour’s Terrible Memoirs, 17 July 2008

Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography 
by Cherie Blair.
Little, Brown, 421 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 4087 0098 3
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Prezza, My Story: Pulling No Punches 
by John Prescott, with Hunter Davies.
Headline, 405 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 7553 1775 2
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A Question of Honour: Inside New Labour and the True Story of the Cash for Peerages Scandal 
by Michael Levy.
Simon and Schuster, 310 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 84737 315 1
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... lot. So far we have had diaries from two of its central figures, David Blunkett and Alastair Campbell, and from a spin-doctor hanger-on (Lance Price); a memoir by its most senior diplomat, the former ambassador to Washington Sir Christopher Meyer; and now memoirs by the former prime minister’s wife, his deputy and his bagman. The ...

Everybody gets popped

David Runciman: Lance Armstrong’s Regime, 22 November 2012

The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups and Winning at All Costs 
by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle.
Bantam, 290 pp., £18.99, September 2012, 978 0 593 07173 1
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... the foul-mouthed spin doctor in The Thick of It, who may or may not bear a passing resemblance to Alastair Campbell. For Tucker the only line of defence is attack, because whatever you do, you can be sure the other fuckers are doing more. When he is finally cornered at the end of the last series, trapped in a lie before a lightly fictionalised version of ...


Benjamin Markovits: What It Takes to Win at Sport, 7 November 2013

... Sky, which had adopted a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to drug cheats. So he called his friend Alastair Campbell for advice and turned to a book he was reading, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse – about big business. The trouble with all this, from the point of view of the sports fan, or even the sports-books fan, is that business speak (at least ...

The Luck of the Tories

Ross McKibbin: The Debt to Kinnock, 7 March 2002

Kinnock: The Biography 
by Martin Westlake.
Little, Brown, 768 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 316 84871 9
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... NUS’ type, many not well received by much of the Party. (Kinnock, however, declined to appoint Alastair Campbell press adviser for the excellent reason that he was more use to the Labour Party at the Mirror.) Kinnock’s, in fact, was the first of the New Labour ‘courts’. Wilson had a kitchen cabinet, and all Labour leaders have had ...

Short Cuts

William Davies: Cambridge Analytica, 5 April 2018

... they’re not categorically different from the early ruthlessness of New Labour operators such as Alastair Campbell, Philip Gould and Peter Mandelson. Nor is there any reason to assume that New Labour’s 1990 analogue methods of data analysis – focus group and polling – are less informative or useful than automated psychometrics. As for Nix’s ...

Delivering the Leadership

Nick Cohen: Get Mandy, 4 March 1999

Mandy: The Authorised Biography of Peter Mandelson 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 302 pp., £17.99, January 1999, 9780684851754
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... to buy Manchester United was referred to the DTI in September, when Mandelson was Trade Secretary. Alastair Campbell, Blair’s spokesman and Britain’s unelected minister of propaganda, worried that the takeover would expose the contradictions in the ruling ideology of élite populism. (On the one hand, New Labour is Murdoch’s facilitator. On the ...

Riots, Terrorism etc

John Lanchester: The Great British Press Disaster, 6 March 2008

Flat Earth News 
by Nick Davies.
Chatto, 408 pp., £17.99, February 2008, 978 0 7011 8145 1
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... examples in Flat Earth News. Davies, informed by his knowledge of PR, even has a fresh angle on Alastair Campbell and the Kelly affair. In his account, ‘Campbell used it as a decoy to distract attention from a highly embarrassing story, which was emerging slowly in May and June 2003, that the long-debated Iraqi ...

The Lady in the Back Seat

Thomas Jones: Robert Harris’s Alternative Realities, 15 November 2007

The Ghost 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £18.99, October 2007, 978 0 09 179626 6
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... prime minister’s press secretary. Michael McAra is in pretty much every way the opposite of Alastair Campbell, for all that they both have Scottish names. For a start, McAra is dead. He apparently fell off the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard in the middle of January, having had a few drinks in the bar (...


James Meek: Bobos for Boris?, 26 April 2012

... seemed ends in themselves. Yet there is another less exalted political figure the mayor recalls: Alastair Campbell. A journalist like Johnson, Campbell tried to shorten the old PR sequence that traditionally went from politician’s policy, through spin doctor’s presentation, to journalist’s story. Why not run ...

You Know Who You Are

Colin Kidd: About Last Year, 25 January 2018

Fall Out: A Year Of Political Mayhem 
by Tim Shipman.
William Collins, 559 pp., £25, November 2017, 978 0 00 826438 3
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... glance, career civil servants), and then of Blair’s media manager, the former Mirror journalist Alastair Campbell, who was given special executive powers to command civil servants by an order of the Privy Council. However, the subdivision of roles and knowhow is such, both on the policy side and in party politics, that in certain respects the humblest ...

Superman Falls to Earth

Ferdinand Mount: Boris Johnson’s First Year, 2 July 2020

... unprecedented rudeness, surpassing even the gruff Bernard Ingham under Thatcher and the venomous Alastair Campbell under Blair. For all Johnson’s protestations that he wishes to see warm and friendly relations with ‘our European friends’, he only has eyes and ears for the domestic Europhobes who raised him to his position. We have moved from ...

Liars, Hypocrites and Crybabies

David Runciman: Blair v. Brown, 2 November 2006

... and what she eventually gave was a mendacious little speech composed for her with the help of Alastair Campbell, in which she spoke about how she felt as a queen and as a grandmother. No one believed she really meant it, but that didn’t matter; she got through by showing she wasn’t above sharing, and that was enough. Still, she was bested ...


W.G. Runciman: Dining Out, 4 June 1998

... as if on their way to a Royal Marine assault course. Next appears Robin Cook, who is led aside by Alastair Campbell and rehearsed in conspiratorial whispers about what he is to say to the reptiles waiting across the road. Cook, whom I’ve never met, gives me a quick, suspicious look. Alastair, whom I have, carefully ...

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