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 fund-raising, politics and campaigns.
Born in Yorkshire in 1957 the son of a vet, his family moved to Leicester in 1968, where he attended school until going to Cambridge University in 1975. He graduated four years later with a degree in 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.
Finally he decided to become a journalist and trained 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 held this role for three years, playing 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. After assisting Mr Blair in winning a second landslide election victory, he became Director of Communications and Strategy. He resigned in September 2003, saying it had been enormous privilege but he wanted more of a life with his partner Fiona and their three children.
His main hobbies are running, cycling, bagpipes and following Burnley FC. He took up running six years ago at the instigation of his sons and he has since run the London Marathon, the Great North Run, and the Great Ethiopian Run and completed several full triathlons for Leukaemia Research Fund, his best friend having been killed by the disease. He is the charity’s chairman of fund-raising, currently focused on seeking fifty donations of 50,000 pounds for the charity’s fiftieth anniversary. He returned to the Labour Party for six months prior to the 2005 general election and continues to advise the party informally. He is one of the party’s most in-demand speakers at fund-raising and motivational events, and was a founder of the GoFourth campaign aimed at focusing Party activists and the public on the need to understand the real choices facing Britain. Together with former sports minister Richard Caborn, he pulled together two of the most successful fund-raising dinners in Labour’s history, both on the theme of sport at Wembley stadium.
Passionate about sport, he has written articles 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 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 Street 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 a sought after speaker at events around the world, specialising in strategic communications. On July 9 2007, he published his first book detailing his time with Tony Blair, The Blair Years, extracts from his diaries from 1994 to 2003, which was an instant Sunday Times Number 1 best-seller. He published his first novel, All In The Mind, in November 2008, and is currently writing a second, due for publication later this year, on the theme of fame and friendship. Last year he broadcast a one hour documentary on BBC2 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 is shortly to front a mental health campaign aimed further at breaking down stigma.
Alastair Campbell is a sought after public speaker in Britain and abroad. Drawing on his experience of ten years alongside Tony Blair, and his considerable understanding of the modern media, he specialises in strategy, making change, dealing with the media and crisis management – often at the same time.
Dozens of testimonials from a wide variety of businesses, organisations and conference organisers have paid tribute to his skills as an engaging and innovative speaker able to apply his insights and experience to the work of others with wit and passion. He liaises directly with event organisers in advance so as to tailor a presentation to their specific needs. Often controversial, and always prepared to speak his mind, he is willing, and indeed keen, to make a question and answer session part of his presentations.