Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dear Diary: Campbell on Diana, Bush and Clinton

Tony Blair's top flack, Alastair Campbell, gives his take on Diana, Princess of Wales, George W Bush and Tony Blair's clothes in these extracts in the London Times from his new book, The Blair Years. Critics blasted the book for being both incomplete and indiscreet, depending on their outlook. Others argue that if journalists only did their job, spinmeisters like Campbell wouldn't have any clout. Here are exceprts:

On Diana, Princess of Wales - Thursday, May 4, 1995

"There was something about her eyes that went beyond radiance. They locked on to you and were utterly mesmeric. She had perfect skin and her whole face lit up when she spoke and there were moments when I had to fight to hear the words because I'm just lost in the beauty."

On Bill Clinton - Wednesday, November 29, 1995

"He was much bigger than I imagined him to be, both taller and fatter. He had enormous strong hands and size 13 feet that looked even bigger. He said that once he and Boris Yeltsin swapped shoes to see who had the biggest feet, and Clinton did."

Tony Blair and his religious beliefs - March 20, 1996

"People knew he believed in God, if not perhaps how important it all was to him, but I could see nothing but trouble in talking about it. British people are not like Americans, who seem to want their politicians banging the Bible the whole time. They hated it, I was sure of that.”

Peter Mandelson - Wednesday, December 23, 1998

"He had done the office very much to his taste, modern and brightly coloured furniture, a minimalist desk, nice pictures. A Christmas card from Prince Charles had pride of place on his desk…. How many times had I warned him that what I call his 'lifestyle ambitions' would do for him? His desire to be famous and mingle with the rich and the great and the good. What the f**k was Charles's card doing there like it was the biggest thing in the mailbag?"

Tony Blair’s clothes - Thursday, April 4, 2002

"GB [Gordon Brown] was wearing a dark suit, a white shirt, a red tie, shoes that weren't cleaned properly and socks that fell down round his ankles. TB [Tony Blair} was wearing Nicole Farhi shoes, ludicrous-looking lilac-coloured pyjama-style trousers and a blue smock. After GB left, I said he looked like Austin-Powers. He said you are the second person who's said that. Gordon wasn't the first. Probably one of the kids."

Blair's clothes again - Friday, July 19, 2002

"He was wearing the most extraordinary collection - a white collarless Nicole Farhi shirt, plain blue trousers and England football slippers with the three lions on them. I said I find it very hard to take him seriously wearing kids' slippers and that shirt. He said I had a bias against style."

On George W Bush - Saturday, April 6, 2002

"When we arrived at the ranch, we chatted in a little group outside the bungalow. Barney his dog came over and he said 'This is my Leo.' I said hold on, Leo's not a dog. Yes, he said, but Barney's the substitute for the little boy I never had."

John Major - Saturday September 28, 2002

"Woke up to one of those rare and totally gobsmacking revelations that newspapers very occasionally produce, namely that John Major had a four-year affair with Edwina Currie [former Conservative MP]. It was one of those 'cor, f**k me' jaw-dropping moments. How on earth did he get away with it?"

Taken from The Blair Years by Alastair Campbell, Hutchinson, £25

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