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Alastair Campbell has scathing insults for his sparring partners in the press as revealed in his diaries published today.
Media commentator Stephen Glover is a ‘deeply unpleasant man”, columnist Simon Jenkins ‘a total wanker’and Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre he sees as simply ‘evil”.
Perhaps most significant in journalistic terms are Campbell’s revelations over the way Tony Blair courted Rupert Murdoch and the direct sway Murdoch then apparently had over his then editors – Stuart Higgins at The Sun and Peter Stothard at The Times.
Here are is Press Gazette’s trawl through the main journalistic players in The Alastair Campbell Diaries:
[At party] ‘Suggested to Stephen Glover that he return to his planet and find the three other beings who thought Major was wittier than TB during the Queen’s Speech Debate. What a deeply unpleasant man.”
[Meeting Rupert Murdoch and addressing News Corp editors in Sydney]
‘I got a fascinating glimpse of the way editors work around him [Rupert Murdoch]. I said to Murdoch that it was an important speech, that TB had put more of himself into it than any speech outside party conference and I reckoned it would go bigâ€¦A couple of minutes later, RM spoke across a few people to Stuart Higgins and later to Peter Stothard [Times editor], and said it was a big speech TB was delivering tomorrow. Of course, because of the time difference they would be getting it out of London and putting it straight into the paper. Both editors disappeared for a couple of minutes and told me proudly they had ordered London to give it a good showâ€¦.I was pleased, but the truth was they had been spun by their boss who had been spun by me.”
‘We had lunch at The Sun, which was pretty tough because by and large this was a group of very right-wing people. In the end they would do what they were told but TB left in no doubt that if it was up to the people in that room, they would not want the paper to back us.’
[Simon Jenkins (then a Millennium Commissioner) on being told that a Labour government would be ‘prepared to go over existing budgets’on the Millennium Dome.]
”He kept saying thank you, thank you so very much,’ very quietly under his breath, as though we had just saved the fucking Crown jewels. ‘You won’t regret this. It is a very brave decision but you won’t regret it.’ He struck me as a total wanker, very self important.”
He [then Sun editor Stuart Higgins] said they were going to come out for us in a big front page tomorrow. There will be things they criticise us for, but it is unequivocally backing Blair. I said I was really pleased. He said yesterday’s article was important [penned by Blair for The Sun in which he toned down his support for Europe] and Murdoch had said he was sure. I asked how Trevor (Kavanagh, political editor) had taken it, and Stuart said RM was sure, and laughed.”
[Talking to Tony Blair about relations with the media]
‘I said I hated having to pander to these people and that they took it as a weakness not a strength. I had said the same to Blunket re his greasing up to Dacre. TB gave me a look that suggested he was fed up of hearing the same old song. I said it was no use just being fed up. I’m fed up to, fed up with the fact that we are in power and doing nothing to change the poisonous media culture which is actually damaging the country now. I said I couldn’t stand the Mail, most of the Telegraph, a fair few of the broadcasters, most of the Sundays and now Piers (Morgan) was on my list of barely worth talking to.”
[Talking to journalist Tom Bower and Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley at a dinner party]
‘They seemed shocked by the strength of our hatred for Dacre [him and Peter Mandelson]. I said your friend Wadley works for the most poisonous influence in British life. He and his papers are evil. They add nothing of good to the world whatever.”
[On Richard Desmond] ‘He looked and sounded a bit of a wide boy, but was pretty brightâ€¦He was clearly going to sack loads of people, would ideally like to run newspapers without journalists. His grasp on policy was pretty tenuous. It was really all about himself – he hated Hague because he hadn’t returned a phone call.”