Alastair campbell

Alastair Campbell rides to Labour’s rescue (again)

Milestones are always a time for reflection. So the 25th anniversary of New Labour’s election triumph this weekend has prompted an outpouring of dewy-eyed reminiscences from commentators of a certain vintage about how great it all was.  Cool Britannia, the minimum wage, PFI deals and the Millennium Dome. Truly, a golden age: things really could only get better. To mark this auspicious occasion, a familiar face from those halcyon days has re-emerged to remind voters about the best that New Labour had to offer.  Alastair Campbell, the king of spin, has popped up with a new report by Labour in Communications urging Sir Keir Starmer to revamp his approach to PR ahead of the next

Alastair Campbell’s Marcus Rashford ‘joke’ backfires

Gavin Williamson has been widely mocked after mixing up footballer Marcus Rashford and rugby player Maro Itoje. But Alastair Campbell’s bid to get in on the joke appears to have backfired in rather spectacular fashion. The New Labour spinner – who now spends his time rallying against Brexit – shared a picture of two black waiters alongside the caption: ‘So happy this day. Marcus Rashford and Maro Itoje were waiting tables at a wedding. There was me thinking they were sportsmen!!’ Oh dear. Campbell also posted a picture on Twitter of himself next to a portrait of Bob Marley with the words: ‘Had a great time at the Marcus Rashford museum in Jamaica

What can we learn about Afghanistan from Alastair Campbell?

Alastair Campbell can’t write. If that sounds like one of the less significant charges one might level against Tony Blair’s former spin-doctor then stick with me. Because anyone who can spill out thousands of words and still be so unoriginal and lacking in insight or self-perception must have things they are trying to hide. That is why the laborious ‘long-think’ that Campbell wrote this week for the equally laborious ‘Tortoise’ website is worth pausing over. For those who have missed it, Campbell was this week invited by Tortoise to write a multi-thousand word piece on the recent events in Afghanistan. Since Campbell was right-hand man to Tony Blair when the

How No. 10 outsmarted Alastair Campbell

LBC broadcaster Iain Dale has moved his Edinburgh Festival ‘All Talk’ series to Zoom, and yesterday he spoke to Alastair Campbell – the two clashed from the start. The former spin-doctor was seated in a strange, beige-tinted room which looked like a sauna. Dale asked where Campbell was, doubtless knowing that he likes to spend the summer holidays in the south of France. I’m enjoying the last few months of the UK being part of [what is] probably the greatest peace-keeping institution on the planet. Dale facetiously responded to Campbell, ‘Oh. You’re in Nato’. Asking about his support for the People’s Vote campaign and attempts to thwart Brexit, Campbell said

My clash with Alastair Campbell convinced me it’s time to hug a remainer

I confess I had butterflies doing the first BBC Politics Live of 2020. It felt like the first day back at school. Beyond Twitter spats and Christmas family banter, the festive period had been politics-free. Would I be rusty, especially as one of the other panelists was the formidable Alastair Campbell? As a former People’s Vote heavyweight, Campbell is something of an arch nemesis who has a reputation for taking no prisoners. But regardless, one of my new year resolutions is to not dwell on past enmities. I am keen to build some unity, in order to make Brexit as productive as possible. Ahead of the programme, I reminded myself of the importance of not

Boris may end up delivering Corbyn

Alastair Campbell has written a longish ‘open’ letter to Jeremy Corbyn, helpfully explaining why he has decided not to contest his expulsion from the Labour party. The remarkable thing is that Alastair believes there is anyone of importance in the party, or indeed outside of it, who gives a monkey’s one way or the other. For all of Jeremy Corbyn’s myriad faults, he has not visited upon this country the two greatest crises, foreign and domestic, that the UK has endured since the second world war (by which I mean the Iraq war and unconfined immigration). Nor has Magic Grandpa lied to the British public and parliament with quite the

Charles Moore

The Spectator’s Notes | 1 August 2019

In his very long letter to Jeremy Corbyn about why, after all, he will stay out of the Labour party instead of fighting his expulsion, Alastair Campbell complains that Britain has been the victim of a ‘right-wing coup’. Boris Johnson’s government has no ‘real democratic mandate’, he says, and Mr Corbyn should be fighting it much harder. You hear this argument a lot — we have a new prime minister and so we must have a general election. In my lifetime (born 1956), seven prime ministers — Macmillan, Douglas-Home, Callaghan, Major, Brown, May and Johnson — have come into office without a general election before or immediately ensuing; in that

The Spectator’s Notes | 30 May 2019

Jeremy Hunt’s approach is very odd. It is the first time I remember an aspirant for the top job saying: ‘Choose me: I’m frightened of a general election.’ He is obviously right that an election without Brexit accomplished would be very difficult for the Conservatives to win, but the way through that is not to narrow your possibilities in advance. If the newly chosen leader, with the mandate that being newly chosen brings, decided that no deal were his necessary negotiating backstop (which surely it is) or, more controversially, that he wanted it without negotiating at all, he would then be in a strong position to dare his parliamentary party

Sunday shows round-up: Dominic Raab – ‘We need to hold our nerve’

Dominic Raab – ‘We need to hold our nerve’ Andrew Marr was joined by the Brexit Secretary as the deadline for achieving a deal with the European Union draws ever closer. Marr asked Dominic Raab about rumours that the mood in the party is restless enough to trigger a leadership contest against Theresa May, with the influential 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers reportedly nearing the critical threshold of 48 signatures. Raab told his colleagues that now was the time ‘to play for the team’: AM: What is your message to all of your colleagues who look at this and say ‘This is a complete shambles’? DR: We’re at the end

Watch: Alastair Campbell grilled over Brexit march hypocrisy

This weekend thousands of anti-Brexit protesters are expected to take to the streets in the name of the People’s Vote march – the campaign calling for a second referendum. Of all the ‘People’s Vote’ cheerleaders, Alastair Campbell is one of the loudest and he appeared on This Week to plug the event. Only Andrew Neil had a question to ask which seemed to catch Tony Blair’s former spin doctor by surprise: ‘Over 1m people marched, urging the government – of which you were a central figure – not to invade Iraq. You ignored them. Why should this government take any notice of 100k Remainers calling for a second referendum?’ "Over

Alastair Campbell struggles to be reasonable

Former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell took to social media last week to lament the loss of reasonable discourse in politics. After speaking on Iain Dale’s LBC radio show he praised the host, saying: Good chat with @IainDale @lbc on Brexit just now. I always feel he is one of those people with whom I totally disagree but can have reasonable conversation, of which there is all too little in our politics right now — ALASTAIR CAMPBELL (@campbellclaret) August 3, 2018 So has the earnest Remainer been taking his own advice when it comes to the merits of sensible conversation? Mr Steerpike thinks not. The timely intervention for more decorum

Sunday shows round-up: Michael Gove – ‘Significant question marks’ over PM’s customs partnership

The Environment Secretary Michael Gove has defended Boris Johnson’s criticism of the Prime Minister’s proposed ‘customs partnership’ ideal in a recent Daily Mail interview, and told Nick Robinson that the proposal ‘has flaws’. Gove and Johnson are reported to be in favour of a ‘maximum facilitation’ arrangement (or ‘Max Fac’) which would make use of technology and trusted trader schemes to help ensure a relatively open border with Ireland post-Brexit: NR: You’re on a cabinet working group to deal with this so-called customs partnership. Boris Johnson calls it ‘crazy’. Is he right? MG: …In the interview that Boris gave to the Daily Mail, he pointed out some of the flaws

Corbyn is the real heir to Blair

Alastair Campbell once famously punched the Guardian’s Michael White in the face. A commendable thing to do, undoubtedly, as Mr White is the very incarnation of pomposity and self-righteousness. Quite possibly the best thing Campbell has ever done. But the brief spat (White hit back, according to White) was revealing in another way. Robert Maxwell had just drowned by falling off his yacht and Campbell, then working in the lobby for Maxwell’s paper, the Daily Mirror, took exception to White’s glee at this watery end to the proprietor’s life. ‘Captain Bob, Bob, Bob!’ White chortled, so Campbell punched him. He adored Maxwell and was his ‘close adviser’, no matter that

Lest we forget | 23 March 2017

I never met Martin McGuinness, but I was certainly affected by him from an early age. His decisions, and those of his colleagues on the IRA Army Council, indelibly coloured my childhood. Belfast in the 1970s and ’80s was a grey, fortified city, compelling in many ways, but permanently charged with the unpredictable electricity of violence. Our local news steadily chronicled the shattering of families, in city streets and down winding border lanes that were full of birdsong before the bullets rang out. There were regular, respectful interviews with pallid widows and dazed widowers, and funerals attended by red-eyed, snuffling children tugged into stiff, smart clothes to pay formal respects

The politically correct way to do racism

Exactly a year ago this week I was at a dinner party when a famous opinion pollster leaned over to me and said: ‘You know, the best thing about this election is that within two years Chuka Umunna will be the leader of the Labour party and Sajid Javid the leader of the Conservatives.’ He was referring to the last general election — the dinner party had been convened a week before it took place. I think the chap had been invited to tell us all what would happen at the polls — and indeed he delivered a lengthy and earnest peroration on this subject, utilising all the expertise and

Alastair Campbell is confronted by his namesake: ‘have you got any idea what my life has been like?’

Although Alastair Campbell no longer works in politics, he remains a divisive figure in Westminster thanks to the reputation he earned as Tony Blair’s spin doctor. During this time, Campbell is said to have been instrumental in using spin to win parliamentary approval for Blair’s call to invade Iraq. Still, Campbell appears to think that it’s about time people got over any ill-feelings towards him as a result of this. Speaking at Portland’s Rising Stars party, Campbell gave a speech to the spin doctors of tomorrow. In this, he complained that even though he left Downing Street 12 years ago, he still gets ‘load of sh-t’: ‘I always feel when I’m in

Peter Mandelson’s bad day at the football

With Jeremy Corbyn’s approval rating currently at minus 39 according to yesterday’s YouGov poll, one could argue that there is little reason for cheer within Team Corbyn. However, the Labour leader can at least take heart that he has managed to prove more popular than one Labour heavyweight when it comes to football. While Corbyn is a regular at Arsenal games — often attending with his sons — other Labour politicians have experienced difficulties fitting in at matches. Writing about New Labour’s toxic legacy and the ‘unelectable’ Corbyn in today’s Guardian, Alastair Campbell recalls a trip to the football he took with Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson: ‘During the Blair years, football and politics became increasingly aligned.

Owen Jones’s election advice falls flat with Alastair Campbell

With Jeremy Corbyn appointed as the new leader of the Labour party, few could be more pleased by the news than the left-wing messiah’s personal cheerleader Owen Jones. In fact the Guardian columnist was one of the first to celebrate the Labour MP’s victory yesterday, praising Corbyn during a string of media appearances. He then moved on to offer some advice to the New Labour wing of the divided party over what they should do to support Corbyn’s election campaign; urging them to ‘turn away from the negativity of your media champions’ and ‘come up with a vision’ as ‘that’s how you win’. Alas these comments did not go down well with Tony Blair’s

Richard Desmond: I made £5,000 profit from Labour donation

Although Richard Desmond recently pledged his allegiance to Ukip’s Nigel Farage, the media mogul previously backed Tony Blair, with the owner of the Express papers donating £100,000 to Labour in 2001. Now, in his new biography Richard Desmond: The Real Deal, Desmond claims that he made a £5,000 profit from the donation. Desmond writes that the donation came about after he attended a dinner with Lord Alli: ‘Waheed said Tony really liked me. Would I make a contribution to the party? What they didn’t realise was that I had put everything I’d ever had – some £37 million – into the Express, along with £97 million that I had borrowed, my house and

Cicero’s advice for election-losers

The great Robert Harris has defended the pollsters who got the elections so wrong by quoting Cicero on the electorate’s fickleness. Cicero certainly acknowledged the problem when he was defending one Gnaeus Plancius in 54 bc, but made a rather different point. Plancius had been accused of rigging his election to the position of aedile (a sort of joint mayor of Rome) by his rival for the post, Laterensis. But Cicero had a problem: Laterensis was a friend. Since Cicero could therefore not lay into him, he began by arguing that electoral rejection could happen to anyone in Rome: ‘For in elections the people do not always demonstrate sound judgment. They