Alastair Campbell's Diaries: 15 Things We Learn In The Burden Of Power

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Alastair Campbell's latest diaries are out | AP

Alastair Campbell's latest diaries are out - and it's a bumper edition. Covering the time between January 2011 and August 2003, when Blair's former spin chief left Downing Street, the 694-page tome touches on 11 September, Afghanistan, Iraq and the death of David Kelly. So, a few talking points then.

Can't process it all now? Here are 15 things we learned from reading the book:

1) Feelings between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair were bad. Really bad. Even worse than we thought they were, if that were possible

Blair once considered sacking Brown, saying in May 2003: "I think there may be a case for moving him come what may."

Relations were so bad that when Brown wanted to do a speech at the funeral of former Labour minister Barbara Castle, Blair had to do one too.

"We had to quickly work up a speech for TB who at this point was not even aware he was doing it," Campbell notes in July 2002.

An entry in February 2002 says: "What was clear from any reading of the media was that GB's people poured poison vs TB the whole time." In September 2002 Campbell quotes Blair saying of Brown: "He's brilliant and ambitious but he's also bonkers."

2) Brown was not keen on joining the euro

As Campbell documents in January 2002, Tony Blair had tried three times to speak to Gordon Brown about the euro "in recent days" but been rebutted. Blair "did not feel GB was totally opposed as such, but a combination of natural caution and over-calculation took him to the wrong conclusion."

3) Gordon Brown didn't like Campbell keeping a diary

"He also railed against me and my diary and said he wanted to raise it in Cabinet," Campbell notes in an entry documenting a row between Blair and Brown in October 2002.

He quotes Blair saying of Brown: "He was mad. The whole thing [reshuffle] was a conspiracy against him. Every single one of them is a disastrous appointment. All designed to damage him."

Campbell also notes Tessa Jowell describing Brown as "f**king insane" in the same entry.

4) Neil Kinnock was surprised that the Daily Mail's editor was at the funeral of Gordon Brown's daughter

Campbell notes that the former Labour leader and his wife Glenys said it was "incredulous" Paul Dacre had been at the funeral of Brown's daughter, who died in January 2002.

5) Ed Miliband's absence made the TBGBs worse

The former spin-doctor talks of the TB/GB schism growing in December 2002, adding: "Things had got worse without Ed Miliband there." Miliband was on a sabbatical in America for a year.

6) Campbell was once asked to join an email prayer group for George Bush

Campbell talks of a meeting with an "enormous woman" on a treadmill in Texas in April 2002, who asked if he was Tony Blair's bodyguard.

The lady told him she was "a member of the George W. Bush email prayer group and she was happy for me to be added to their list."

7) Going to McDonalds in Blackpool with Kevin Spacey and Bill Clinton is surreal

"So there we were, sitting in a Blackpool McDonald's, drinking Diet Coke and eating chicken nuggets as he [Clinton] poured fourth on the theme of interdependence, the role of the Third Way in progressive politics."

8) James Murdoch is sweary

According to an entry from January 2002, he told his father Rupert he was "talking f**ing nonsense" about the Israel/Palestine conflict.

"Murdoch said he didn't see what the Palestinians' problem was and James said it was that they were kicked out of their f**king homes and had nowhere to f**king live… He [Rupert] finally said to James that he didn't think he should talk like that in the prime minister's house and James got very apologetic with TB who said not to worry, I hear far worse all the time."

9) Bush did not like UN weapons inspector Hans Blix

Campbell quotes Bush, saying in November 2002: "This is our judgment. He [Blix] is not going to get between us and freedom. Once we strike we go for it, we don't wait for the world to sing 'Kum ba yah', to hold hands and wait for Saddam to develop a better karma."

10) Tony Blair once stole a DfID official's suit

During a visit to Bangladesh in January 2002, an aide had to persuade a DfID official to strip-off on the then prime minister's plane and swap suits with Blair after his got crumpled.

Campbell says the prime minister told him "sorry about this but as you can see my suit is not in good shape."

11) Someone once mistook Campbell for a teacher

While he visited a museum on a school trip with his daughter Grace, a teacher from a different school, pointed at him and said: "That teacher is the spitting image of Alastair Campbell."

12) Campbell likes the Lighthouse Family

Discussing a story in The Sun that he listened to British singer Ms Dynamite when he ran, he confesses: "I was mostly listening to the Lighthouse Family on long runs."

13) By January 2003 Blair was pretty sure there would be war in Iraq

Campbell notes: "TB was pretty sure there would be a war or that in any event Saddam Hussein would go and war remained the likeliest if not only way of that coming about."

14) Campbell and Blair once joked about shooting Clare Short

In April 2003, in a cabinet meeting after Short had publicly threatened to resign over Iraq he notes he "slipped TB a note about the time Saddam shot his health minister at a meeting because he was annoying him and did he want me to get a gun? Yes, he scribbled."

15) He considered suicide

Campbell writes in an entry in August 2003, during the fallout after the suicide of Dr. David Kelly: "I did actually wonder momentarily whether it would be the last time I saw her [his partner Fiona Millar], whether what I discovered on reading my own diary would be so awful that I would want to top myself."

The Burden of Power: Countdown to Iraq is published in hardback and ebook by Hutchinson.

Also on The Huffington Post

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