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CAMPBELL STILL THE MASTER OF MEDIA MANIPULATION

PUBLISHED: 16:53 05 September 2007 | UPDATED: 14:37 07 September 2010

Most journalists, it has to be said, hate Alastair Campbell. He brought a dark new meaning to the term poacher turned gamekeeper . Campbell used to be a political hack. My old boss, David Montgomery, unceremoniously fired him. But like all great newspape

Most journalists, it has to be said, hate Alastair Campbell. He brought a dark new meaning to the term 'poacher turned gamekeeper'.

Campbell used to be a political hack. My old boss, David Montgomery, unceremoniously fired him. But like all great newspaper people with more than one string to their bow (take Andrew Marr and Piers Morgan for example) he put that behind him by carving out a more significant career, becoming the Most Influential Unelected Person in the Kingdom. Cue envy and resentment on an operatic scale.

In this new capacity he harangued and bullied former Press colleagues, committing the cardinal sin of openly questioning their judgement and integrity, and making enemies with an enthusiasm that bordered on the masochistic.

But even though his methods weren't to everyone's taste, Campbell did his job brilliantly. Tony Blair never looked half as assured when he wasn't around, which is probably why Campbell always was around.

Whether lurking in the shadows and gently steering events in the preferred direction, or stridently cajoling, pressurising - even bullying - those around him, he did what was required.

It is legitimate to ponder whether Blair's premiership would have been half as effective without him.

This in itself is an incredible testimony to a man who had no real political ambitions of his own, or at least none that he was prepared to put to the electorate. But therein also lies the rub. For if 'The Blair Years' were not without their blemishes, what blame attaches to the power behind the throne for the grand schemes that went wrong?

What can't be doubted is that if he was ever able to control the fourth estate, he still has that knack. Witness the attention ladled upon him to greet the publication of his diaries. The BBC, so recently the victims of his most acidic and disparaging offensive, is literally eating out of his hand. Now that's media manipulation for you.

Geoff Martin, Editor, Ham&High Series

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