Experienced international political and trade negotiator
Former Director of Communications and Strategy for U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. An engaging speaker known for his straight talking and honest insights into dealing with the media, strategy planning and crisis management.
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 UK politics, he now splits his time between writing, speaking, charitable fundraising, politics and campaigns.
He was born in Yorkshire in 1957, the son of a vet. His family moved to Leicester in 1968, and he went to school there 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 80s 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 did this for three years, and played 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. He did this job for Labour’s first term but after helping Mr. Blair win a second landslide election victory, he became Director of Communications and Strategy. He did this until he resigned in September 2003.
In his time in Downing St 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.
Passionate about sport, he was written about different sports 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 him playing football with both Diego Maradona and Pele, and appearing in a one off version of the popular TV programme, The Apprentice.
In July 2007, he published his first book on his time with Tony Blair, The Blair Years, extracts from his diaries from 1994 to 2003, which was an instant Sunday Times Number 1 bestseller. He has since published six volumes of the full diaries, and a special edition of the diaries focused on the Northern Ireland peace process, ‘The Irish Diaries’. His first novel, All In The Mind, appeared in November 2008, to enthusiastic reviews for its frank examination of mental illness. His second novel Maya, a gripping analysis of fame and the obsession it attracts, was published in February 2010. His third novel, published in September 2013, was called My Name Is, and tells the story of a young girl’s descent into alcoholism. This led to him becoming an ambassador for Alcohol Concern. His fourth novel, Saturday Bloody Saturday, co-written with former footballer Paul Fletcher, will be published in February 2018.
In October 2008 Alastair broadcast an award-winning 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, leading to his election as Mind Champion of the Year award in May 2009. He has also made a BBC documentary about alcoholism, and more recently a film about wildlife. He has made a film too about his love of bagpipe music, which ended with him performing in front of 2,500 people in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. He is currently making another mental health documentary.
In the wake of the referendum in which the UK voted to leave the EU, he helped set up a new newspaper, The New European, which campaigns against Brexit. He is editor-at-large and writes a weekly column for the paper, and speaks regularly at rallies and campaign meetings aimed at stopping Brexit.
He writes a monthly interview for GQ magazine, and has covered figures as varied as Prince William and Jose Mourinho, Al Gore and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Nicola Sturgeon and Nicola Adams. Passionate about sport, he was written about different sports 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 led a fundraising drive for Burnley FC, a team he has supported since the age of four, when the club was in financial trouble. They are currently riding high in the Premier League. His charity projects have involved him 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 was called to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards twice, first for his insights into modern journalism, second to give his views on the changed relationship between politics and media. He is a sought after speaker at events around the world, specialising in strategic communications, leadership, team building and crisis management. Since publishing Winners, he has been asked to support a number of leading sports organisations.
“Alastair was a sensation during his New Zealand visit. Senate Communications Counsel held his only public speaking engagements in the country. They were a sell-out, attended by hundreds of the country’s leaders in business, society and politics. Everyone who attended were talented and opinionated people in their own right – yet all were entertained and impressed by Alastair’s colourful and engagingly delivered anecdotes and views.”
“Alastair was a keynote speaker at Promax, a conference that has hosted over the years impressive speakers from Bill Clinton to Sir George Martin. It’s fair to say that Alastair was one of the best we have heard from. He set out to carefully tailor his insights to a largely creative audience, and his anecdotes were told with the ease of a master storyteller. From first contact to the end of the question and answer session he was interested, engaged and hugely appreciated by the attendees.”
“Alastair spoke at our annual dinner in May. He amused us with witty anecdotes about Tony Blair and interested us with thought provoking comment on the future of the Labour Party. He was an excellent speaker who also took the right wing heckling in his stride!”
Experienced international political and trade negotiator
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Former Global VP HR at Unilever and Mental Health & Wellbeing Advocate
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