Tony Blair's No. 10 Director of Communications
Alastair Campbell is a writer, communicator and strategist best known for his role as former British PrimeMinister Tony Blair's spokesman, press secretary and director of communications and strategy. Still activein politics in Britain and overseas, he now splits his time between writing, speaking, charitable fundraising,consultancy and campaigns.
He has written ten books in the past seven years, including six volumes of diaries, three novels, and apersonal memoir on depression and the pursuit of happiness. A former 'Mind Champion of the Year', he isan ambassador for the Time to Change campaign to raise awareness about mental illness, and chairmanof fundraising for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. He continues to advise the Labour Party, and otherleft of centre parties, most recently acting as strategic director for the Albanian Socialist Party, who won alandslide victory in June 2013. He is Humanitas Visting Professor on media at Cambridge University, andwas also recently honoured by University College Dublin for his contribution to the Northern Ireland PeaceProcess. He is on the advisory board of Portland PR, and in addition independently acts as an advisor togovernments, businesses, charities, sports organisations and high profile individuals.
He was born in Yorkshire in 1957, the son of a vet. His family moved to Leicester in 1968, and he wentto school there until going to Cambridge University in 1975. He graduated four years later with a degreein modern languages. His university education included a year in France when he had his first 'journalism'published, articles on sex in Forum magazine. He also busked around the world with his bagpipes. Finallyhe decided to become a journalist and trained with the Mirror Group on local papers in the West Countrybefore joining the Mirror itself in 1982.
He left in the mid 80s to work for Eddy Shah's Today newspaper as news editor but had a nervous breakdownand left to return to the Mirror after convalescence. He rose to become political editor and the paper's chiefpolitical columnist. He then worked briefly for Today under new ownership in 1994 before being asked byTony Blair to be his press secretary when Mr Blair became leader of the Labour Party. He did this for threeyears. Mr Blair, in his own autobiography, credited Mr Campbell with coining the phrase 'New Labour' asthe label for the party's strategy, and described him as a 'genius' for the role he played in helping to createNew Labour, return the Party to power, and win three general elections.
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. Hewas seconded to NATO in 1999 to oversee communications during the Kosovo conflict. After helping MrBlair win a second landslide election victory, he became Director of Communications and Strategy. He didthis until he resigned in September 2003, saying it had been enormous privilege but he wanted more of alife with his partner Fiona and their three children, now aged 25, 21 and 19.
His main hobbies are running, cycling, bagpipes and following Burnley FC. He took up running in 2003 atthe instigation of his sons and he has since run the London Marathon, the Great North Run, and the GreatEthiopian Run, and completed several full triathlons, all for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research Fund, hisbest friend having been killed by leukaemia. He returned to the Labour Party for six months prior to the 2005general election and continued to advise the party informally under Gordon Brown, including during the2010 campaign, in which he 'played' David Cameron in rehearsals for the historic first TV debates betweenleaders. He is one of the party¹s most in-demand speakers at fundraising and motivational events. Togetherwith former sports minister Richard Caborn, he pulled together two of the most successful fundraisingdinners in Labour¹s history, both on the theme of sport at Wembley stadium.
Passionate about sport, he was written about different sports for The Times, the Irish Times and Esquiremagazine. 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 projectshave involved him playing football with both Diego Maradona and Pele, and appearing in a one off versionof the popular TV programme, The Apprentice.
In July 2007, he published his first book on his time with Tony Blair, The Blair Years, extracts from hisdiaries from 1994 to 2003, which was an instant Sunday Times Number 1 bestseller. He has since publishedfour volumes of the full diaries, and a special edition of the diaries focused on the Northern Ireland peaceprocess, 'The Irish Diaries'. He has continued to keep a diary and is expected to publish his post DowningStreet diaries in the future. His first novel, All In The Mind, appeared in November 2008, to enthusiasticreviews for its frank examination of mental illness. His second novel Maya, a gripping analysis of fame andthe obsession it attracts, was published in February 2010. His third novel, published in September 2013,is called My Name Is, and tells the story of a young girl's descent into alcoholism. He has since becomean ambassador for Alcohol Concern.
In October 2008 Alastair broadcast an award-winning one hour documentary on BBC2 about his ownbreakdown in 1986. Both the film, Cracking Up, and All In The Mind, won considerable praise from mentalhealth charities and campaign groups for helping to break down the taboo surrounding mental health. Hereceived the Mind Champion of the Year award in May 2009 in recognition of his work to break down thestigma around mental illness, and continues to campaign on the issue both in Britain and overseas. He hasalso made a BBC documentary about alcoholism.
In his time in Downing Street he was involved in all the major policy issues and international crises. Hehas said that in ten years in the media, and a decade in politics, he saw his respect for the media fall andhis respect for politics rise. He was called to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards twice, first for hisinsights into modern journalism, second to give his views on the changed relationship between politics andmedia. He is a sought after speaker at events around the world, specialising in strategic communications,leadership, team building and crisis management.
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