Alastair Campbell 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.
Alastair 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 resigned in September 2003, saying it had been an enormous privilege but he wanted more of a life with his partner Fiona and their three children, now aged 20, 18 and 14.
His main hobbies are running, 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, all for Leukaemia Research Fund, his best friend having been killed by the disease. Since resigning he has been spending his time making speeches, writing, working for his charity as chairman of fundraising, and continues to advise the Labour Party informally.
Alastair Campbell returned to the Labour Party for six months prior to the 2005 general election. He has presented a series of TV interviews for Channel Five, whose subjects included President Clinton, Peter Mandelson, Bono and US cyclist Lance Armstrong. He has also written on sport for The Times, the Irish Times and Esquire magazine. He has also conducted a tour of UK regional theatres to talk about, and be quizzed on, his time with Tony Blair. He was communications adviser to the British and Irish Lions rugby tour of New Zealand in 2005. His charity projects have involved him playing football with Diego Maradona, and appearing in a one off version of the popular TV programme, The Apprentice.
In his time at Downing St Alastair Campbell 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 has seen 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 on his time with Tony Blair, The Blair Years, extracts from his diaries from 1994 to 2003, which was an instant Sunday Times #1 bestseller. His first novel, All In The Mind, was published in November 2008.
Client Comments for Alastair Campbell
Alastair Campbell travels from United Kingdom
- One of the biggest challenges in any long-established conference is to find speakers who attract and engage their audience. Alastair's presence at our 2008 event in Dublin generated over 50 registrations within 48 hours of being announced, and ensured that delegates stayed to the very end of the event. The content of his speech integrated very will into our theme of Evolution and his answers to questions from the audience were typically direct and straightforward. A pleasure to work with.
Institute of Travel Management
- Alastair Campbell, the 'man behind Blair', is one of the true titans of his profession. His book will remain the important commentary on Blair in power. At the podium he knits together stories that offer penetrating insights into how politics and politicians really work.
Province of Ontario
- Controversial, thought-provoking and highly entertaining, Alastair gave a refreshingly candid insight into past and present political leaders and events that captivated our guests.
Ernst and Young
- I had the pleasure of producing the PRIA National Conference in Perth, Australia at which Alastair was the Keynote International Speaker. He is an insightful and compelling speaker. His approachable manner was refreshing and his flexibility and willingness to assist in the crafting of a positive experience for the delegates was tremendous. Alastair is a superb communicator, an exceptional individual and an unrivaled addition to any event.
- Alastair Campbell was the keynote speaker at our first ever Corporate Communication Conference in Athens, on April 7th 2006. His striking personality, powerful content, and inimitable way of handling media questions, was without doubt the highlight of our event. Alastair demonstrated to the Greek audience how brilliant communicators look, act and speak.
- Alastair was one of the highlight speakers at our major London event in 2008. He is a highly engaging and charismatic presenter who could not fail to win over an audience with his genuine warmth and wit. He also knows a lot of stuff about a lot of things and is a top bloke to work with.
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
- Alastair delivered a keynote lecture on leadership in the media age. He captivated the audience - believers and sceptics - with a brilliant and engaging presentation.
Henley Management College
- Involving Alastair as the key focus of a discussion forum for the medical profession was described by our clients as a stroke of genius. Not only was he delightful and charming to work with, but ensured the evening event was the talk of the medical congress and indeed was a hot topic of discussion amongst attending and non-attending physicians for months afterwards.
Galliard Healthcare Communications
- Infamously once described as a "ruthless, political hatchet man", Alastair Campbell is arguably the most famous Downing Street Press Secretary ever. This forthright journalist, broadcaster and author has provided my clients with fascinating, entertaining and memorable insights into the world of politics and journalism at the very highest level. He's a motivational and inspirational speaker in a class of his own.
Paul Smith Associates
- "Best after-dinner speaker I've ever heard"; "Down to earth, humorous and widely relevant"; "Challenging and thought-provoking"; "Expertly tailored to the audience". These are just some of the comments that followed Alastair's after-dinner speech at the 2008 sportKeighley Olympic Fund Dinner. It was tremendous to welcome such a generous, lively and personable guest and his presence and performance took the event to another level.
John Dennis, sportKeighley co-ordinator
- Alastair Campbell was our guest speaker at the inaugural Great North Run Hall of Fame Dinner held at The Newcastle Gateshead Hilton Hotel in April 2007, and has proven to be a hard act to follow. He judged the mood absolutely right, gave the right mix of serious and funny. He has a very relaxed and informal approach to speaking with a great sense of humour. I had many comments from people saying how much they had enjoyed his speech.
- Alastair Campbell spoke at my Oxford University seminar on British government, on ‘Politics and the Media'. He is one of the few people who understands both politics and the media. His talk was both witty and penetrating, and he answered questions in a clear and informative way.
Vernon Bogdanor, Oxford University
- We asked Alastair to speak at the launch of a unique educational project involving businesses in a School Sport Partnership for Burnley Schools. He waived any fee or expenses because of his commitment to the area and the project. More importantly, he inspired people with his insight and the passion he showed for the scheme. He helped us to raise more than £100,000.
Padiham St Leonard's and Hunters Property Group
- Alastair is a hugely entertaining speaker. His blunt and forthright challenges to our industry are still quoted four years after he gave his speech to our conference in Qatar.
Institute of Travel & Tourism
- Alastair Campbell's presentation to our annual convention was exemplary - informative, enlightening, entertaining and challenging.
Ontario Liberal Party
- Alastair was a terrific speaker: thoughtful and focused with a unique perspective on the world of global politics. A delightful guest and speaker.
Tower Brook Capital
- Love him or hate him, Alastair Campbell is a great conference speaker. It's not just that he has a fund of wonderful real life stories of encounters with the great and good, but his ability to get across his message with humour, self-deprecation and conviction makes him a great asset to any forum. We will certainly be inviting him again to our annual top level conference.
AMT-Sybex Group Ltd
- Alastair Campbell is undeniably a controversial figure. And equally undeniably a brilliant speaker. He is articulate and well-informed, authoritative yet light-hearted. He makes his points with conviction and brio but never adopts a superior attitude. And above all he doesn't waffle. He says what he wants to say and then shuts up – an increasingly rare skill. The audience, a mix of predominantly Italian media experts, journalists, journalism students and members of the public, responded enthusiastically to his frankness and occasional self-depreciation. You don't necessarily have to agree with him to admire the polish of his performance. Our expectations on the impact he would make were amply exceeded. Bravissimo! He also caused quite a stir amongst the ladies – the self-assured, powerful yet surprisingly youthful-looking alpha male from London making his presence felt in the Renaissance hill town of Perugia. An all-too-heady cocktail.
Perugia International Journalism Festival 2008
- Alastair spoke at our annual dinner to hundreds of our most important supporters from the business and education sectors. He was entertaining and thought provoking while also doing a great job getting our charity's message across.
- 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.
Senate Communication Counsel
- Audiences behave in obvious ways. Like bored children, they can fidget, shift noisily in their seats, even start whispering to each other. At the Borders Book Festival at midsummer in Melrose, 400 people crammed into a marquee to listen to Alastair Campbell talk about his diaries of The Blair Years, and for almost an hour and half were spellbound. Heads were absolutely still, anxious not to miss a word. They laughed loud and long at the daftnesses and farce of high politics and leaned forward, rapt, as Campbell unpacked the atmosphere and intricacies of diplomacy and domestic policy. In a translation of a Gaelic phrase, they knew that they were listening to the music of the thing as it happened. It was unforgettable.
Borders Book Festival
- Alastair Campbell was the speaker at this year's Hugh Cudlipp Annual Lecture in London. His name attracted our largest audience of newspaper journalists, politicians and media professors and students as well as numbers of the general public. All were fascinated by his excellent speech for its thought-provoking interest, humour and knowledge.
Jodi Cudlipp, widow of Lord Cudlipp
- Alastair spoke at an event at our offices in Edinburgh to an audience of key Scottish business leaders in 2005. The event was widely viewed as one of the best we have done and Alastair was the consummate professional. Guests commented on his impressive ability to move around the room speaking with everyone and that his speech was interesting and thought provoking. A lively Q&A session completed an excellent event.
McGrigors LLP, Edinburgh
- 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.
Red Bee Media
- Alastair spoke at a lunch we organised for our major clients and partners, and even though we had high expectations, he exceeded them. He was open, frank, fascinating about some of the issues and events he was involved in, and dealt with a range of often tough questions with a mix of sharp insight and good humour. I believe everyone left having not only enjoyed themselves but learned something too.
Hunters’ Property Group, Leeds
- Alastair spoke at a charity event for us and was fantastic. The lecture theatre was full of people from all walks of life, and we received some very positive feedback from everyone who attended.
Sheffield Hospitals Charitable Trust
- Alastair was insightful, funny and thought provoking. He provided a terrific insight into managing effectively in the all seeing eye of public opinion.
- Alastair spoke at a couple of events for Yorkshire Forward, with two very distinct briefs. On both occasions he judged the audience perfectly, and had a rare blend of genuine humour and serious strategic advice. The q and a sessions at the end of his presentation were also hugely memorable.
- 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!
Asscoaition of Investment Companies
- Crisis Management in the Global Economic Crisis
- Current Events Worldwide
- How Pace of Change is Changing Politics
- Lessons in Leadership From Those I Have Known
- The Impact of 24/7 Media on Decision Making
- The Impact of Barack Obama on the World
- The Life and Times of Alastair Campbell
- The Pace of Change in China and India
- What is Strategy?
"I have used your company three times now and each time I have been extremely happy with the speakers and the back up organisation around their engagement right up to the event eve. You obviously know your business and know what speakers suit what events. You certainly know how to tailor for maximum effectiveness."
Australian Management Institute
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