Alastair Campbell: “I have never been asked that question before”
We had a terrific evening with Alastair Campbell at the Mile End Group at Queen Mary, University of London, yesterday. The video and transcript are here.* The Pepys of New Labour told how he kept a diary in tiny handwriting full of shorthand and abbreviations in exercise books and scraps of paper including the back of a White House menu.
The fourth volume of Campbell’s diaries, The Burden of Power, covering the period from 9/11 to August 2003, is published today. I asked him about Tony Blair’s decision in January 2003 to sack Gordon Brown and Campbell laughed, because Sally Morgan, Blair’s former political secretary who was in the audience, had rolled her eyes as if to say, “he didn’t, though, did he?”
Campbell enjoyed himself, heckling Morgan and Tessa Jowell, who arrived late and “made an entrance”, he said. Later, he told her off for checking her emails: it turned out that she was actually announcing her late arrival on Twitter.
And he congratulated the student who asked the first question from the audience for asking a question that he had never been asked before: Which of his legs is longer than the other? It turned out to be the left, and Campbell won applause for telling his questioner that, for asking a unique question, he would buy her a copy of his book.
There is plenty more in the book, apart from the differential length of the Campbell legs, to which this blog will be devoted for the next few days.
*The video runs out at about 58 minutes, but Campbell couldn’t be shut up, and insisted on answering everyone who wanted to ask a question, so the session overran by 20 minutes. The full video should be up tomorrow.Tagged in: alastair campbell, contemporary history, mile end group
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