The Happy Depressive
Are you happy? Does it matter?
Increasingly, governments seem to think so. As the UK government conducts its first happiness survey, in this 15,000 word book Alastair Campbell looks at happiness as a political as well as a personal issue; what it should mean to us, what it means to him. Taking in economic theories and the example of Bhutan – which measures ‘gross national happiness’ ahead of gross domestic product – he questions how happiness can survive in a grossly negative media culture, and how it could inform social policy.
But happiness is also deeply personal. Campbell, who suffers from depression, looks in the mirror and finds a bittersweet reflection, a life divided between the bad and not-so-bad days, where the highest achievements in his professional life could leave him numb, and he can somehow look back on a catastrophic breakdown 25 years ago as the best thing that happened to him; he writes too of what he has learnt from the recent death of his best friend, further informing his view that the pursuit of happiness is a long game.
The Happy Depressive reached Number 3 in the itunes biographies chart when it was published as an ebook. Now it can be bought as what Alastair calls a ‘book book’.
Power and Responsibility
The Alastair Campbell Diaries Volume Three: 1999 to 2001
POWER AND RESPONSIBILITY is the third volume of AC’s unique daily account of life at the centre of the Blair government. Out in July, it begins amid conflict in Kosovo, and ends on September 11, 2001, a day which immediately wrote itself into the history books, changing the course of both the Bush presidency and the Blair premiership. AC was with Blair as the twin towers fell and his account of one of the most remarkable days in recent history provides an extraordinary conclusion to this volume, and paves the way for all that follows in volume 4.
If PRELUDE TO POWER told the story of Labour’s rise to power, and POWER AND THE PEOPLE the story of how the party adapted to government after so long in opposition, in POWER AND RESPONSIBILITY the honeymoon is well and truly over. In addition to detailing the continuing tensions at the top, this volume contains graphic accounts of perhaps the worst domestic crises of the New Labour years: foot-and-mouth disease and protests over fuel prices which almost brought Britain to a halt. It includes Peter Mandelson’s second resignation, the agonies of the Millennium Dome, and the most unexpected slow-handclapping in memory, when the Women’s Institute turned against Tony Blair.
Yet despite all the problems ‚ not least the most accident-prone manifesto launch in history, complete with deputy prime minister John Prescott punching a voter ‚ Labour won a second successive landslide election victory. That triumph is intimately recorded here, alongside the high points of this period, such as devolution to Northern Ireland and the fall of Milosevic.
As ever, Campbell combines an extraordinary eye for detail with the insights that make him one of the foremost political strategists of our time. His diaries provide the most complete and authentic account of a remarkable period in British political history.
Power and the People
The Alastair Campbell Diaries Volume Two: May 1997 to June 1999
Volume 2 of AC’s diaries opens as Tony Blair enters Downing Street, and contains an astonishing array of events and personalities, progress and setback, crises and scandals, as Labour make the transition from opposition to office. It is astonishing to think that only two years are covered by this volume, as Labour set to work implementing the programme on which they had been elected. Bank of England independence, a minimum wage, devolution, the New Deal jobs programme, schools and hospitals… the policy programme rolls forward.
But so often the unexpected comes to dominate. Blair’s first authorisation of military action in Iraq, his government’s first sex scandal as Robin Cook’s private life is exposed, then Blair’s role in supporting Bill Clinton through an altogether bigger and more potent sex scandal, Ron Davies’ ‘moment of madness’ walk on Clapham Common, Peter Mandelson’s first resignation from the Cabinet over an ill-advised loan. All human and political life is here, perhaps nothing more unexpected than the death of Princess Diana and the extraordinary week which followed. Then there is the Northern Ireland peace process, the highs of the Good Friday Agreement to the deadly low of the Omagh bombing.
Blair’s ministers continue to give him and Campbell headaches, but characters well beyond Britain stalk these pages not least when TB takes up the Presidency of the EU and the G8. Helmut Kohl and Gerhard Schroeder, Jacques Chirac, Boris Yeltsin, Nelson Mandela and above all Bill Clinton take up more and more of the Prime Minister’s time and energies. We witness from the inside the handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese. We get a ringside seat to brutal EU summits. We see Blair’s early attempts to make a difference in the Middle East. And the volume ends with the NI peace process again in trouble, and Britain at the heart of a difficult and messy war to reverse Slobodan Milosevic’s ethnic cleansing of Kosovo, with Campbell sent by Clinton and Blair to Nato to oversee a revamp in the war communications.
Prelude to Power
The Alastair Campbell Diaries Volume One: 1994-1997
As Alastair Campbell said in the introduction to “The Blair Years”, it was always his intention to publish the full version, covering his time as spokesman and chief strategist to Tony Blair. “Prelude to Power” is the first of four volumes, and covers the early days of New Labour, culminating in their victory at the polls in 1997.
Volume 1 details the extraordinary tensions between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as they resolved the question as to which one should stand to become Labour leader. It shows that right from the start, relations at the top were prone to enormous strain, suspicions and accusations of betrayal. Yet it also shows the political and personal bonds that tied them together, and which made them one of the most feared and respected electoral machines anywhere in the world. A story of politics in the raw, “Prelude to Power” is above all an intimate, detailed portrait of the people who have done so much to shape modern history.
The Blair Years
Extracts from The Alastair Campbell Diaries
The Blair Years is the most compelling and revealing account of contemporary politics you will ever read. Taken from Alastair Campbell’s daily diaries, it charts the rise of New Labour and the tumultuous years of Tony Blair’s leadership, providing the first important record of a remarkable decade in our national life.
The Blair Years is a story of politics in the raw, of progress and setback, of reputations made and destroyed, under the relentless scrutiny of a 24-hour media. Unflinchingly told, it covers the crises and scandals, the rows and resignations, the ups and downs of Britain’s hothouse politics. But amid the big events are insights and observations that make this a remarkably human portrayal of some of the most powerful people in the world.
There has never been so riveting a book about life at the very top, nor a more human book about politics, told by a man who saw it all.
All In The Mind
Martin Sturrock desperately needs a psychiatrist. The problem? He is one.
Emily is a traumatised burns victim, Arta a Kosovan refugee recovering from a rape. David Temple is a longterm depressive, while the Rt Hon Ralph Hall MP lives in terror of his drink problem being exposed. Very different Londoners, but they share one thing: every week they spend an hour at the Prince Regent hospital, revealing the secrets of their psyche to Professor Martin Sturrock. Little do they know that Sturrock’s own mind is not the reassuring place they believe it to be. For years he has hidden in his work, ignoring his demons. But now his life is falling apart, and as his ghosts come back to haunt him, the only person he can turn to is a patient.
Set over a life-changing weekend, Alastair Campbell’s astonishing first novel delves deep into the human mind to create a gripping portrait of the strange dependency between patient and doctor. Both a comedy and tragedy of ordinary lives, it is rich in compassion for those whose days are spent on the edge of the abyss.
Maya Lowe is one of the world’s biggest movie stars. Steve Watkins is her life-long friend. Both swear their relationship hasn’t changed since they shared a school desk as London teenagers. But can a friendship like theirs really survive a fame as great as Maya’s?
Can a man like Steve, working away for a Heathrow logistics company, seriously remain part of her life? He certainly thinks so. But amid the twists and turns of Maya’s public and private lives, the gulf between what Steve thinks and what is actually true gets ever wider. And in a world where the obsession with celebrity seems to make everyone want to be one, truth is hard to find.
Set in modern-day Britain, America and France, Alastair Campbell’s second novel is part psychological thriller, part exploration of the psychology of fame. Steve is a brilliantly ambiguous figure, narrating a story full of morally complex characters from the worlds of film, business, TV, journalism and private investigation. Whether through stars with a love-hate relationship with their public; agents milking the culture of celebrity; a media that cannot get enough because the public always want more, Campbell depicts a society feeding vainly on fame, and the dangerous consequences for those caught up in its frenzy.