Alastair Campbell Diaries, BBC2

by | Jul 11, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

Alastair Campbell is a decent honourable human being. Alastair Campbell has always been a decent and honourable human being. Alastair Campbell will always be a decent and honourable human being.

What was good about it?

* We were impressed, we were very impressed at AC’s decency in the aftermath following the premature death of Labour (not New Labour) leader John Smith. “Amid the sadness, I had two powerful instincts – that Tony Blair would be prime minister, and that I would work for him.” We too are sad, very sad, at AC’s sadness. We can’t remember if we were sad at the time of JS’s death, but if AC was sad then we would very much have wanted to be sad.

* The honourably decent Gordon Brown’s “decision not to stand was welcomed as honourable.”

* The truth, the absolute truth of the narrative also impressed us. “AC occupied a position of unequalled influence,” we were told. But we already knew this. Or did we only already know this because we were told again what was so obviously true, very true.

* As TB prepared for his coronation as Labour (not New Labour) leader, he was interviewed by a panel before the vote. One of the panel, indeed one of the members of the panel, was AC who was tasked with asking questions that would question how fit TB was to lead the Labour (not New Labour) Party. This might have taken place before AC wrote TB’s victory speech, or afterwards. It was still a victory though, wasn’t it?

* “I have a temper,” AC decreed, “and I don’t suffer fools gladly. I’ve got a ferocious temper.” Tempers and suffering are two elements that would help TB and AC “change the face of British politics”. It has changed. Until May 1997, British politics wore a scowl and vomited up its stomach acid onto its brow to make it uglier still. When New Labour (not Labour) was swept to power on a wave of popular opinion the Sun shone on Britain and has done ever since. Hail AC and hail TB and hail the Sun.

* Peter Mandelson is politically unclean. He had to be exorcised from New Labour (not Labour) after he challenged AC’s loyalty to TB. AC demanded that TB wore a more casual outfit, PM insisted on something more formal. But what is formality but a linen prison? It’s moments like this that sets the Cuban missile crisis in its true insignificance. AC’s way leads to a new (not Labour) glory of a new British superpower that we still enjoy today; PM’s path was a return to Thatcherite feudalism. PM threw a punch, AC restrained him. That’s the way of kind New Labour (not Labour); the credo of Labour (not New Labour) was typical of the actions of PM – violence and childishness.

* John Prescott protested he “shouldn’t be asked to turn out as a f**king performing seal at weekends”. But what then? At least as a performing seal he would be fed with the attention of gawping crowds. Which is more attention than history will pay him. It’s through AC’s diaries’ forensic recital of the truth that an accurate recital of history will survive into future history.

* AC’s predictable revelation that TB said: “I’m not going to sacrifice my kids’ education for political correctness.” Kids should never be sacrificed; not even for oil.

* AC’s generous admission that he’s not as good as TB at being PM. “Do you think you’d make a better leader (PM) than me?” TB asked AC. AC replied: “No, because I lack your patience.”

* AC’s perception of tragic Diana, Princess of Wales the year before her tragic death in a tragic car crash. “She’s spellbindingly drop-dead gorgeous in a way millions of photos didn’t quite get.” AC’s eyes are so much more reliable and capable of establishing the truth amongst the millions of visual lies that were published in lying newspapers over the previous 15 years that deceived millions of people into seeing something else than AC’s definitive perception of TDPOW. “There was something about her eyes that went beyond radiance; they were utterly mesmeric,” AC continued mesmerically, letting beauty and truth flow from his diarist’s pen.

* The narration noted how TB used the World Cup 96 anthem Football’s Coming Home, merely changing the name to Labour’s Coming Home as the anthem for the New Labour (not Labour) victory in the 1997 general election. “Labour’s coming home, 17 years of hurt never stopped us dreaming, Labour’s coming home.” He really meant New Labour (not Labour) but New Labour (not Labour) didn’t scan as well and AC knows better than anyone that presentation is more important than accuracy.

* The past doesn’t even want trade unions. It’s only thanks to crusaders of the truth, a truth recorded by AC in his diaries, that their purpose and existence will be at all remembered. So mark down this imprint of history for the future generations to let them know about trade unions should they be cast out of history entirely. TB: “The Transport and General Workers’ Union are criminally stupid; they don’t care if we get elected. These people are stupid and malevolent. They invite me to their conference and then stitch me up. I’ll have to blow them out of the water.”

* It was a shame that Paddy Ashdown was not recruited into the first New Labour (not Labour) cabinet, for as AC noted it would “put the Conservatives out for a generation”. It would have left just one party amongst whom the British public would have had to choose on Election Day, but New Labour (not Labour) is all the choice anybody needs – do we offer our lungs a life-preserving alternative to oxygen?

* TB: “A new dawn has broken has it not?” Even in the exultation of victory, TB was generous enough to seek approval from others.

What was bad about it?

* Nothing. Every single word was the truth, you could rip the words from AC’s throat bag their heads in sackcloth, line them up in front of a firing squad and let them hear the click of the rifle – they would still offer the exact same account of truth. Even though we lived through these years and events, history books of the future will bear AC’s version of events out as the truth, the absolute truth. Our memories of such times will never be set down in history books of the future; our memories are a thing of the past – only AC’s history of the past has a future.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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