Best known to some as the inspiration for Malcolm Tucker, but to everyone else as Tony Blair's official spin doctor, Alastair John Campbell (born 25 May 1957) 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.
Recently, he was expelled from the Labour Party for voting for the Liberal Democrats (like many Labour members, he was unhappy with the party's refusal to be 100% pro-remain on Brexit) in the European Parliament elections. Of course, he still identifies himself as Labour (and decidedly not Lib Dem).
Books by Alastair Campbell:
- The Blair Years (2008)
- Diaries Volume One: Prelude to Power 19941997 (2010)
- Diaries Volume Two: Power and the People 19971999 (2011)
- Diaries Volume Three: Power and Responsibility 19992001 (2012)
- The Happy Depressive: In Pursuit of Personal and Political Happiness (2012)
Alastair Campbell's fiction provides examples of:
- The Alcoholic: Ralph Hall MP in All In The Mind; Hannah in My Name Is...
- All First-Person Narrators Write Like Novelists
- Break the Cutie: Hannah; Maya
- Coitus Ensues
- Dysfunction Junction:
- Justified in All In The Mind, since it's about a psychiatrist and his patients.
- Stalker with a Crush, The Ingenue, Domestic Abuse, Private Detective and The Svengali collide in Maya, with inevitably calamitous results.
- More downplayed in My Name Is... Everyone has their own problems, but Hanna's the really messed up one.
- Grey-and-Gray Morality
- Purple Prose: The sex scene in Maya is particularly infamous and was even nominated for an award."I thought the walls were going to fall down as we stroked and screamed our way through hours of pleasure to the union for which my whole life had been a preparation..."
- Self-Insert Fic
- All the mentally ill characters (read: all the characters) in All In The Mind, to some extent.
- Steve, the narrator of Maya, is an open self-insert on some levels. (See No Celebrities Were Harmed for other levels.)
- Young alcoholic Hannah in My Name Is...
- Strawman News Media: Especially prominent in, but not exclusive to Maya.
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.
- Not a straight depiction, but it's widely agreed that Campbell was a key inspiration behind foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker on The Thick of It. Campbell himself claimed to enjoy the series, although he was an outspoken critic of The Movie version In the Loop.
- In 2012, he appeared (sort of) as himself on Accused, or rather a character's hallucination of him, telling the man to kill his stepmother because she supposedly was going to kill his father and brother.