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.
March 6, 2010
My Latest Book
Living Better (Paperback)
How I Learned To Survive Depression
"Superbly readable, supremely useful. This book could save lives."
– Stephen Fry
LIVING BETTER is Alastair Campbell’s honest, moving and life affirming account of his lifelong struggle with depression. It is an autobiographical, psychological and psychiatric study, which explores his own childhood, family and other relationships, and examines the impact of his professional and political life on himself and those around him. But it also lays bare his relentless quest to understand depression not just through his own life but through different treatments. Every bit as direct and driven, clever and candid as he is, this is a book filled with pain, but also hope - he examines how his successes have been in part because of rather than despite his mental health problems - and love. His partner of forty years, Fiona Millar, writes a moving afterword on how she too has learned to live with his depression.
Depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide - it is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem and major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide. LIVING BETTER is a call to arms and an extraordinary memoir in one compelling and inspiring narrative. This is a book that really could save lives.
Alastair Campbell says: ‘We all know someone with depression. There is barely a family untouched by it. We may be talking about it more than we did, back in the era of 'boys don't cry' - they did you know - and when a brave face or a stiff upper lip or a best foot forward was seen as the only way to go. But we still don't talk about it enough. There is still stigma, and shame, and taboo. There is still the feeling that admitting to being sad or anxious makes us weak. It took me years, decades even to get to this point, but I passionately believe that the reverse is true and that speaking honestly about our feelings and experiences (whether as a depressive or as the friend or relative of a depressive) is the first and best step on the road to recovery.’