December 19th 1998, on the news breaking that Peter Mandelson had borrowed money from Geoffrey Robinson to buy a house:
“I had a long chat with Peter M, who claimed not to see what the problem was re the loan. He said what was wrong with a friend lending money to someone? I said it had the potential to be a big story…. He was adamant it would not be much of a story. I said it had the potential to be the worst thing to hit us yet.”
December 23rd, 1998:
“The papers were absolutely ghastly for Peter, massive coverage and relentlessly negative.”
December 23rd 1998, on Mandelson after TB forced him to resign:
“I felt desperately sad for Peter, who came back in looking wretched. I said this is not going to be easy, but we are just going to have to do it, and be professional about it. I know, he said, I know. He had clearly been crying. … As we left, I took him to one side and hugged him, and he me, and my mobile phone went off inside my jacket. We laughed. Be strong, I said. Do not let those bastards take any joy in seeing you broken. Stand tall and give every sense that one day you’ll be back.”
Anthony Browne, director of the think-tank Policy Exchange and prior to that the chief political correspondent of The Times, is plucking out the most interesting passages from the just published Alastair Campbell diaries for Coffee House.