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Alastair Campbell is a writer, communicator and strategist best known for his role as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s spokesman, press secretary and director of communications and strategy. Still active in Labour politics, he now splits his time between writing, speaking, charitable fundraising, politics and campaigns.
He was born in Yorkshire in 1957, the son of a vet. His family moved to Leicester in 1968, where he was educated prior to Cambridge University. He graduated with a degree in modern languages.
Campbell’s journalistic career began with the Mirror Group on local papers in the West Country before joining the Mirror itself in 1982. He left in the mid 80’s to work for Eddy Shah’s Today newspaper as news editor but had a nervous breakdown and left to return to the Mirror after convalescence.
He rose to become political editor and the paper’s chief political columnist. He then worked briefly for Today under new ownership in 1994 before being asked by Tony Blair to be his press secretary when Mr Blair became leader of the Labour Party. He did this for three years, and played a key role helping to create New Labour and return the Party to power. After the 1997 election he became the Prime Minister’s Chief Press Secretary and Official Spokesman, which entailed the co-ordination of Government communications and twice daily briefings of the press. He did this job for Labour’s first term but after helping Blair win a second election victory, he became Director of Communications and Strategy. He resigned in 2003.
Passionate about sport, he was written about different sports for The Times, the Irish Times and Esquire magazine. He was communications adviser to the British and Irish Lions rugby tour of New Zealand in 2005. He has raised funds for Burnley FC, a team he has supported since the age of four. His charity projects have involved him playing football with both Diego Maradona and Pele, and appearing in a one off version of the popular TV programme, The Apprentice.
In his time in Downing St he was involved in all the major policy issues and international crises. He has said that in ten years in the media and a decade in politics he saw his respect for the media fall and his respect for politics rise.
He is now publishing four volumes of his full diaries. In 2008 his first novel All In The Mind was published while his second Maya, which analyses fame and the obsession it attracts, appeared in 2010.
In 2008 he broadcast a one hour documentary on BBC Two about his own breakdown in 1986. Both the film Cracking Up and All In The Mind won considerable praise from mental health charities and campaign groups for helping to break down the taboo surrounding mental health. He received the Mind Champion of the Year Award in 2009 in recognition of his work and campaigning on the issue.
Since resigning he has been spending his time making speeches, writing, working for his charity and continues to advise the Prime Minister informally. He has signed a deal to write a regular sports column for the Times.
Specialist topic: strategic communications.
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