I’m not usually a reader of political diaries – in fact I think Alan Clark’s is the only one I’ve read before these. I got into this series when I was laid up with illness a few years back, and have followed them ever since. Campbell is a bit of a ‘marmite’ character I suppose, but I’ve always found him an entertaining and interesting writer and speaker.
This is the sixth hefty volume of these diaries, and it takes some getting through. In fact, the first section isn’t involved with politics at all, dealing with the author’s role as PR consultant on the Lions tour of New Zealand – interesting if you’re a rugger bugger, not so much if, like me, you’re not. In fact, the main fault with this book is that, during the years covered, Campbell was no longer on the No 10 payroll as such, although he does seem to spend an awful lot of time there in an unofficial capacity, and thus is not as involved in the day to day running of the government, and the issues it throws up. This mainly involves the handover between Blair and Brown, or ‘the transition’ as they refer to it. It seems an all-consuming obsession to all those involved, and it seems to illustrate just how insular politics can be. Nevertheless, the fact that Campbell is now a step removed from the front line of politics means the action, such as it is, is nowhere near as riveting as it is in the earlier volumes. In fact, the area of the book that really stands out is his continuing fight with chronic depression, and the impact this has on him and on his family. That is the real story of these three years, and is actually far more interesting than the political in-fighting between the Blair and Brown factions.
Length of Read:Long
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
A very long book that is quite hard going at times. The earlier volumes, dealing with the run up to Blair’s first election victory and the subsequent years of government, when the author was at the centre of events, are the place to start. This one is for seasoned followers I think.
One thing you’ve learned
Depression and mental illness is hard to describe on paper, unless you’ve been there yourself.