The Racing Card

The Bet - will Alastair Campbell give up his job after the general election?

Yes 5-1
(Source Charlie Whelan)

The gossip in the press lobby this week has been about Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's press secretary, and whether or not he will leave Blair after the election. Campbell announced last week that he will formally resign his position, as soon as the election is called, in order to campaign for Labour. This is one of those barmy constitutional quirks - as if he isn't working full time for Labour now! But there has been talk that he will leave after the election to work for Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

This he has described as "crap", but those who know him well say that he is becoming increasingly fed up with the job and is exhausted. I can confirm that he will be exhausted by the job, because he told me that when I left No 11 over a year ago. What makes some people certain he will leave is that he has sanctioned a BBC "fly on the wall" documentary about himself - something he would not contemplate if he planned to stay. This is a very strange decision given that, when Gordon Brown had a "fly on the wall" made about him, Campbell refused to co-operate and told everyone that it was a crazy idea. Mandelson was so angry that Brown would be seen on film masterminding the election victory that he did everything he could to sabotage it. The real problem for Campbell was that the films were not about him and his master, but because the two STV films were so successful, he has changed his mind about appearing in one himself.

Following the BBC documentary on Blair's first 1,000 days, widely seen as a complete "snow job", no one is surprised that the maker of that film has been chosen by Campbell to make Alastair, the movie. Don't be surprised if someone else decides to make The Real Alastair Campbell, and I'll give you 5-1 he will be gone before Blair.

This article first appeared in the 24 April 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Are the loonies coming back?