Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Alastair Campbell has gone mad"

When Tony Blair's former spin-doctor inevitably signed up for a column in the new tabloid Times, some other papers hit back.

It fell to the Daily Telegraph to come up with the best ruse. Playing on Alastair Campbell's past (where, in his own words, he once "lost his marbles"), the paper claimed that he was suffering withdrawal symptoms since being forced out of Downing Street. According to the Telegraph's Toby Helm, Campbell is suffering mood swings; he is low and disorientated. There is absolutely no evidence for this but a certain Cary Cooper, an organisational psychologist, was trotted out to tell us that Campbell is suffering from "Post-Success Syndrome", even though the man has never met the former spin-doctor. There is just one word for all this: "bollocks". Or, as Campbell himself would say, "garbage".

I confess that I haven't spoken to Campbell since he lost his job but, having given up a fairly high-profile spinning job myself, I can't believe that he will be feeling anything but relief. I worked for Gordon Brown for only five years; Campbell has been at it with Blair for nearly ten. He must have been absolutely exhausted. I know I was. It was also clear that, in the end, he had lost the plot. Now he can take life easy. Just to get a night's sleep without the phone or pager going will be a big relief. He will even be able to go to a restaurant with close friends without being interrupted. What a joy I get out of that!

I know that Campbell was upset that his first big interview, on Breakfast With Frost, was largely ignored by the media, but that does not make him mad. It just means that he is as egotistical as ever.