I’ve just finished reading Alistair Campbell’s diaries and my goodness what a read they are.  At 750 pages it is not a quick read – and probably why it is the book most left behind in rooms according to a Travel Lodge survey.  It is however, very funny and very alarming.  He became Tony Blair’s press secretary then director of communications and strategy.  As Craig Brown said in the Mail on Sunday ‘It was like Sherlock Holmes instead of turning to Dr Watson for advice, asked the Hound of the Baskervilles’.  For this is a very angry man;  really really angry. He is a political journalist who hates, nay detests political journalists.  Every page has someone described as a fool, idiot and much much worse.  He describes how flat they felt on the night of May 1st 1997 when they won a landslide victory – though as he says it isn’t the best start for a new job. ‘Imagine preparing for a new job by working flat out for 6 weeks travelling the country and then go a few nights without sleep’  There also some very funny episodes, him and Peter Mandleson actually coming to  blows over whether Tony should wear a shirt and tie.  Just before the triumphant reception at the Festival Hall the morning after the election, the Special Branch took their convoy down the wrong road and while they could hear ‘Things can only get better’ on the loud speakers playing again and again, they were all doing 3 point turns in a side street.

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Whatever your politics, it gives a fascinating insight into life at the top where the big decisions are made.  For an unelected official he had an astonishing amount of power and turned his venom on the press who in fact became the unofficial opposition – there not being much of an official one.  He’s a charismatic man with a huge ego – look at the choice of picture for the front cover, Tony looking adoringly at him – bless.

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