Creator: Alastair Campbell
"Final sentence of earlier email probably a bit colourful and personal considering we have never actually met but I'm sure you share the same sense of humour as your star presenter Mr P[axman]."
Best known to some as the inspiration for Malcolm Tucker
, but to everyone else as Tony Blair
's official spin doctor, Alastair Campbell is a former political journalist who switched sides in 1994 to help New Labour deal with the press. Over the next nine years he entrenched his already fearsome reputation as a Manipulative Bastard
- thanks in no small part to resentful journos, not to mention comedians who played his aggressive persona for laughs.
(For more context see British Political System
In 2003 he resigned from government and has since spread himself between the lecture circuit, publishing his diaries, charity fundraising, and writing novels. He did return to fight for the Labour Party in the 2005 and 2010 general elections, but unlike his long-time colleague and frenemy Peter Mandelson
, has yet to commit to a full time political comeback. Like Mandelson, he carries a lot of toxic baggage; he is inseparable in the minds of many from the 2003 Iraq War and subsequent suicide of weapons inspector David Kelly.He's also a football nut, alleged Scot, former softporn writer (under the pen name 'The Riviera Gigolo'), suspected former sex worker, Francophone, Germanophone, triathlete, and bagpipe player.
He's shared a pitch with Diego Maradona. But he never talks about it.
Books by Alastair Campbell:
- The Blair Years (2008)
- Diaries Volume One: Prelude to Power 1994–1997 (2010)
- Diaries Volume Two: Power and the People 1997–1999 (2011)
- Diaries Volume Three: Power and Responsibility 1999–2001 (2012)
- The Happy Depressive: In Pursuit of Personal and Political Happiness (2012)
Alastair Campbell's fiction provides examples of:
Depictions of Alastair Campbell in fiction:
- On topical sketch show Bremner, Bird and Fortune, Campbell was portrayed by Andrew Dunn (whom he described at the time as a 'fat bastard'). Recurring sketches showed him interacting with (read 'bullying') Bremner's weak and hesitant Blair.
- In 2005, Campbell was played by Jonathan Cake in the Channel 4 television film The Government Inspector, a dramatisation of the David Kelly case.
- In 2006 he was depicted by Mark Bazeley in the critically acclaimed The Queen, about the death of Princess Diana and how royals/politicians dealt with the fallout.
- 2007 saw the premiere of TONY! The Blair Musical, a comedy musical about Tony Blair's career. Campbell - portrayed, as is so often the case, as an amoral bastard - has a few numbers. His departure is depicted as the moment things start to fall apart for Tony.
- ... Aaand he appears in another 2007 musical on the same subject, imaginatively called Tony Blair - The Musical.
- Mark Bazeley also played Campbell in the 2010 follow-up to The Queen: The Special Relationship, about Tony Blair's relationship with US President Bill Clinton.
- In 2011, The Hunt For Tony Blair - a one-off episode of The Comic Strip Presents, depicting Blair as a fugitive in a Film Noir parody - featured Harry Enfield as Campbell.
- Also in 2011, BBC Radio 4 broadcast four short monologues, each from the perspective of a different real-life Downing Street cat, called Political Animals. Campbell is an antagonist in the second episode, Humphrey.
Tropes applied to Alastair Campbell:
- The Alcoholic: Like the rest of Fleet Street, he drank heavily in the late 1970s—mid 1980s, culminating in a breakdown in 1986. In recovery he became The Teetotaler (for a while).
- Arch-Enemy: In 2003 it was The BBC, and his grudge has remained famous, but Reality Is Unrealistic - like most Brits, he's a fan of the Beeb in general, and his real nemesis is the Daily Mail. (See the Quotes page for a glimpse at just how strongly his loathing is reciprocated.) If offered a copy of the Mail on an aeroplane, he will reportedly take it, rip it in half, and hand it back.
- Berserk Button: That Liar Lies. Unfortunate, given his reputation (deserved or not) as a liar.
- The Bully
- Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: With Blair.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Always. Along with an entirely fabricated Yorkshire accent, it's the easiest way to make him recognisable to an audience.
- Deadpan Snarker: Along with Filth, this defines Mark Bazeley's depiction in The Queen and The Special Relationship.
- Determinator: Once he's set his mind to a challenge - political, athletic, creative - he's damn hard to stop.
- Dreadful Musician: In reality he's not that bad, but anyone who dares to play the bagpipes will have this trope applied to them regardless.
- Emotional Bruiser: Very open about his depression. Very open about his other emotions.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Especially Paul Dacre, Peter Oborne and and Simon Walters. Allegedly.
- False Friend: Sometimes, to Peter Mandelson. After all, they go way, way back, and it didn't stop Alastair giving Peter the shove in 1998... or 2001...
- Godwin's Law: Comparisons to Goebbels.
- Grumpy Old Man: Alastair himself is more likely than anyone else to invoke this.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: With his petite journalist partner, Fiona Millar.◊
- Implausible Deniability: Over the 'dodgy dossier', according to some British Newspapers and their readers.
- Lighter and Softer: Since leaving Downing Street and becoming a novelist, according to some reports. Others say he was always like that. Others, meanwhile, say he hasn't changed a bit.
- Man in a Kilt: Normally in conjunction with Everything's Louder With Bagpipes. Definite Truth in Television; you won't see him at a formal ceremony without full kilt gear.
- Manipulative Bastard: Very often applied in fictional (and not-so-fictional) portrayals. Ramped Up to Eleven in comedy.
- Men Can't Keep House: According to Fiona.
- No Indoor Voice: Stands out especially in The Hunt For Tony Blair.
- Off The Wagon: Has admitted to drinking occasionally, even though he knows it's dangerous for a recovering alcoholic to do so.
- Oop North: Despite being born and raised in Yorkshire to Scottish parents, he sounds like a Londoner. Don't expect actors to reflect this accurately. It's something to do with Northerners being tough and louche.
- Psycho Sidekick: To Blair.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Swears less, and sounds much less Northern, than TV and film portrayals would have you believe.
- Sanity Slippage: For months, or even years, leading up to his resignation in 2003. Manifested as spiralling depression and Irrational Hatred of, among others, The BBC.
- The Svengali: Sometimes portrayed as this to a naive Blair, as in Bremner, Bird And Fortune.
- Sweet Tooth: Proudly failing to notice that Real Men Hate Sugar. Apparently he has a particular fondness for Toblerones. The most prominent use of this is in Jeremy Vine's 2012 memoir It's All News To Me, which describes Alastair calmly eating a forkful of Vine's chocolate cake before walking off without saying a word.
- Testosterone Poisoning
- Those Two Guys: With Jonathan Powell in The Queen and The Special Relationship.
- Undying Loyalty: To Burnley FC, to his family, to the Labour Party, and above all to Tony Blair. He also once lamped a man for making a Too Soon joke about the drowning of his previous Mean Boss, Robert Maxwell.note
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Peter Mandelson and/or Tony Blair.
- With Friends Like These...: The whole New Labour inner circle. If Andrew Rawnsley is to be believed, rarely has a country been run by a more dysfunctional bunch of backstabbers and narcissists.
- Workaholic: During the Blair Years he basically didn't do anything except the job. Yes, he hated it, but he lived for it nonetheless.