Campbell’s Soup and other notorious advertising frauds

I had in mind writing about the Alastair Campbell diaries at the start of this week but decided against it.  Most of what I might want to say would repeat what is in the media and it has had too much publicity in any case.  And we know that it has been edited to avoid giving political ammunition to the opposition parties.  So why buy something that we know misrepresents what happened?  I will not be buying a copy – he won’t get any more of my money if I can help it.

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5 Responses to “Campbell’s Soup and other notorious advertising frauds”


  1. 1 James July 11, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    Personally I think it will still make a good read

  2. 2 mikerowe July 12, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    I have little doubt it will make a good read. But anyone reading it needs to know what has been edited out in order to assess its real value. This is particularly true if you are looking for some insight into the systems of government in this country. What we are being presented with is a partial picture – partial in the sense of incpomplete and, expressly, partial in the sense of biased. This verges on fiction in my view. But, yes, it will be interesting.

    In reading your response, and looking at your own blog, I have a couple of further obswervations to make on Campbell. He behaved as a political appointee – which he was. No problem with that. But he was also emplyed as a civil servant. That requires some regard to impartiality, disinterested advice etc. Where was that evident in his work? He was paid by me, and all other taxpayers, in this capacity. This is my problem with Campbell. Since I am intent on not reading the diaries until such time as they are available for sale in a second hand bookshop from which he will not profit, I would be interested to know whether I am wrong on that count. It may be that I am.

  3. 3 James July 18, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    As I actually acquired a copy of this book at the weekend, I can make a few observations. Firstly in the introduction Campbell spells out exactly how he has edited the diaries and what and why he has removed. He intends to release (and later donate to a British university) the full 2 million odds word at some points, I’m guessing once the political careers of the main players have past their peek. So assuming the reader reads the introduction they should be in no doubt as to what they are reading.

    Rightly or wrongly Campbell always did what he thought was best for the Labour party, as this was his job and he was clearly a little neurotic about this. Having read the first 100 pages or so which is still some way away from Labour entering government I would say these two things about the book.

    * It is a lot less about policy and reasons for ploicy decisions than I expected and far more about people and their reactions to events.
    * It is a damn good read and highly entertaining. It is full of funny and bizarre events and you feel really feel close to the action.

    If you feel so strongly about not filling up Campbell’s coffers I would recommend purchasing a copy second hand on ebay. Anyone interested in politics irrespective of their political alliances should read the book.

  4. 4 mikerowe July 20, 2007 at 9:59 am

    James, I have no doubt it is a good read. But I still think you need to be clear that Campbell was not simply a political appointee. Officially, he worked also as a civil servant and NOT in a political capacity. Is there any evidence of this in his book? Does he at any time appear to be doing what was best for the government of Britain or was it always the Labour Party that came first?

    As to buying it, inevitably I will at some point. But, for a good read and a book that is unahamedly fiction, I think I will read Harry Potter first.

  5. 5 Chris August 2, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    I have to agree with Mike, the book is a summary of what AC does best, spin. I did consider buying it in terms of what is/has been one of the most interesting periods of political activity however, I am not parting with money for a sanitised version of events.

    As for the ‘noble’ intention to dontate his work to a university, I am afraid Mr Campbell has an over inflated view of his literary prowess and worth. I resent the view (from what I have read in the media) that Campbell is under the impression he decided government policy and was the political driving force behind New Labour, after all as previously stated he was a paid civil servant not an elected official.


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