Just before the summer break, I did a fundraiser for Labour Welsh Assembly member Leighton Andrews, and during the q and a was asked if it was too late for Labour to fight back against the coalition mantra about ‘the mess we inherited.’ My reply, which seemed to meet with broad approval, was a very firm ‘no, it is not too late, and it has to be done.’ I have been something of a stuck record on this, but the fact is that during the long months it took Labour to elect a new leader after Gordon Brown stepped down, the Party paid insufficient attention to the mantra being put down with clear strategic intent. Added to which,Labour having just lost an election, there was a desire among all of the candidates to be seen as a break from the past. The unintended consequence of this, however – unintended by Labour that is, though not the Conservatives – is that the very good record of the last Labour government has been blunted if not lost as a political weapon. Steve Richards is absolutely right to be arguing in the FT today that Labour must be more robust in defending the record, including the GB/Alistair Darling handling of the global financial crisis. Britain is, I think, the only country in the world whose politics has somehow conspired to pile the blame for the crisis not on those who caused it but on those who led the world in solving it. Labour have played into Tory hands on this, and there needs to be an admission of that, so that even at this late stage, a proper debate and a proper reckoning of the record can be had. The right wing press and its broadcasting echo chamber will not be easy to turn around on this, and the coalition will scream ‘mess we inherited’ even louder. But it can and must be done. Britain had ten good years of growth and prosperity under Labour which is one of the many reasons we won three elections and stopped David Cameron winning a majority.
November 24, 2009
September 3, 2009
November 16, 2009
March 14, 2009
The GQ Interviews
My Latest Book
Alastair Campbell Diaries Volume 7
From Crash to Defeat
Caught in the no man’s land between being a key figure in Downing Street and the relative anonymity of the world outside politics, Alastair Campbell finds himself being torn in several directions as this latest volume of diaries opens. Having succeeded Tony Blair as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown wants Campbell at his side. Campbell resists, flooding his reservoir of guilt as a general election looms and Brown’s indecision and fluctuating moods suggest the Labour administration is seriously threatened by the Tory ‘posh boy’, David Cameron.
Soon Campbell is earning not only praise but big money from motivational speaking and writing novels which darkly reflect the mood swings that continue to concern both him and his family. Serious journalism across platforms old and new puts him back in the public eye and together with live appearances and a love of sport – his enduring love affair with Burnley Football Club still smoulders – sees him board a celebrity merry-go-round that often leaves him far from his comfort zone.
With politics constantly tugging his sleeve, he eventually returns to the front line to marshal a party in disarray. The intensity of the months leading up to 6 May 2010 is as dramatic as any screenplay, with Campbell chronicling Brown’s struggle to win over a disillusioned nation and then his dignified departure from the main stage. For Campbell, another chapter closes. So what next?