Diaries of a vicious Lying Bastard 20

This is the only comment I shall make on Campbell’s diaries.

I presume Alasdair Campbell’s Diaries are as truthful and unspun as his Dossier on Iraqi WMD. I took this phrase from the publisher’s blurb on Amazon:

here is Tony Blair up close and personal, taking the decisions that affected the lives of millions

“Affected” appears to be a misprint for “Ended”.

I can guarantee you that there is infinitely more genuine insight into how government operated in the Blair era in Murder in Samarkand than in The Blair Years. Yet since the publication of Murder in Samarkand I have had no BBC TV interview about the book and a single BBC Radio interview, on BBC Radio Scotland. Campbell, by contrast, has had eighteen substantial BBC TV programme features so far in addition to a three part serialisation. Christopher Meyer – whose sales I have now overtaken – also received infinitely more BBC coverage than I, as did Lance Price. The distinction is, of course, that they all supported the invasion of Iraq.

The cheerful news is that Murder in Samarkand has now steamed past 20,000 copies sold, even ahead of the US launch in October and, of course, the film version. It also means we have sold nearly six times as many as David Blunkett, who again got infinitely more BBC coverage – and ten times the advance. So, slowly, word of mouth and reader opinion can counter, to some extent, publicity machines. But remember that publishers reckon an endorsement from Richard and Judy adds at least 200,000 to sales.

I think there needs to be an investigation into the practice by publishers of paying massive advances to politicians, which they know will never be recouped. Blunkett got ten times the advance I did, and he sold a sixth of the books. By my reckoning about ‘193,000 of his advance is still outstanding. Campbell will have to sell over half a million books to reach his advance. These are not commercial deals, they are backhanders from publishers. The deals are reached while people are still in office – therefore, it is a bribe. Blair reportedly put the agreed advance for his memoirs against the Connaught Square mansion. He would have to sell over 6 million copies to clear his advance.

Advances, like loans for peerages, are non-repayable if you don’t clear. This is yet another way our politicos are bought by big business groups. Rupert Murdoch is the largest owner of publishing houses in the UK, followed by German conglomerate Bertelsmann.

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20 thoughts on “Diaries of a vicious Lying Bastard

  • Sabretache

    My only comment too because the man deserves a total blackout

    As the definition of a good headline, yours sums up the whole to perfection.

    This is the man who claims the death of David Kelly sent him into a deep depression, then autographs a copy of the Hutton Report (along with Cherie Blair) as an auction item at a Labour Party fund-raising bash. He is a complete and utter Shite. He should be denied publicity and his book boycotted. See here for a near the knuckle cartoon on the matter http://tinyurl.com/2hn9jk

  • Simon Baddeley

    I suspect that AC might mutter that you make being a 'vicious lying bastard' sound like a bad thing. Haven't a lot of us, certainly me, been deceived by the idea that evil will look evil, not appear in the form of the Yorkshire laddish Peter Sutcliffe or the cheery Gloucester builder Fred West? Our most popular favourite villain has been Hitler – ugly, ridiculous, crude, noisy and uncivil in his meetings with visitors. His image matches Olivier's Richard III, regularly telling us his ill-intentions like the pantomime villain who stoops and cackles to a delighted audience. But AC and TB have given toothy smiling diffidence a bad name. Our previous PM and indeed Alistair Campbell privately use the f-word – very human – but in public they are urbane, polite, swift to interject diffidence and hesitancy into conversation. Bush jr, conforms superficially to the image of my childhood rogues but that's my mistake. His table talk – rich with crafted speech errors – ensures an Ivy leaguer can sup with small town voters. I'm an above average sinner. These charmers trail sulphur.

  • Chuck Unsworth

    I have nothing but contempt for Campbell. He is a disgusting individual, but one should recall that he had (has) his admirers and supporters. We should keep a very close eye on these people, too. Many are still stalking the corridors of power.

    As to the BBC, well it may be an indication of your undoubted integrity that so far they have chosen to ignore you. After all, just take a close look at those that they do 'interview', and be thankful that you are not amongst their number…

    The whole point of the Campbell interviews and serialisation is that the BBC is deliberately (and with our money) buying corporate influence wherever it can. There's an unhealthy symbiosis here. It's the same with most mainstream media, this is simply about power and the tools of manipulation – all extremely familiar territory to Campbell.

  • DrKebz

    I have just finished reading Murder in Samarkand [fantastic book by the way, I thoroughly recommend it]. It is no surprise to me that the BBC do not give you space Craig. Being shown up as collaborators with torturing murdering dictators is acutely embarassing for the establishment. The BBC being the mouthpiece of that establishment can hardly bring itself to allow you to embarass them any further.

  • ummabdulla

    Good point about the advances paid to these establishment figures… I never really thought about it before. And shouldn't their notes and memos belong to the public anyway?

  • Boss

    Dear Craig,

    Zeitgeist is not what it used to be, meritocratic, fair, honest, and true. Well, I am talking out of my butt, it has always been the same, a bunch of fraudsters, and crooks, living with their wits, have somehow managed to fool the rest of the honest and true people, only to sell these down the river for a pittance.

    AC, the alcoholic vermin, knows the who is who of the baboons (question that ought to be asked; is criminal conviction part of the path/qualifier to Lordshipdom, or is it incidental? Lord Conrad Black, Jeffrey Archer, Lord Levy et al, cited as but a few), and presto he can sit there on the telly, and tell a tired, worn out, crap story, that somehow is considered to be headline news. Pimps, whores, bottom pincher's, and baboons a great mix for the benefit of the humankind's progress. So far as Tony the poodle is concerned, sixteen million buys lots of beer, and funny enough lots of kisses on the arse too.

    The private jokes of the serial criminals is only but one trail of bread crumbs, you see, part of the criminal psyche is to boast, and validate the mastery of the criminal mind at work, if the 'great unwashed' don't get it, better still, the joke is on them anyhow.

    Watching AC at work, really is comedy at its finest, but alas few will get to roll on the floor, the rest will, only swallow more lies, and crap as the 'true' course of events. Fact that, AC was 'thinking' briefly to join ye olde Kelly, is a confessional, that is only between the culprit, and millions, whom are further bamboozled, for liars can only lie, and lie bigger to cover their tracks (well sort of).

    Also, you ought to know, that selling books is a difficult task, but who said that buying books ought to be done individually? If anyone wishes, they could order container loads of books, once the title of ownership has been transferred, the buyer needs not read any of pap in the books purchased, he/she could sell the books for pulp (recycling is a meritorious activity, that everyone ought to be involved in), however the counter would indicate a best seller, and of course figures do not lie, as we all know!!

    Hence, lamenting the unholy nexus of blatherers, gubshites, imbeciles, and fraudsters, is not exactly the most productive pastime.

    Let us face it, we need no zoos to observe the animals in their respective habitations, just turn on, tune in, and start watching the telly, and see the rat's knackers and baboons at their best, that these days is called 'news'.

    At least AC did not get an offer to go to mid east, and start creaming off the proceeds at source, like the rest of the bastards whom made possible the murder spree carefully side stepped in that ancient Mesopotamia, that evidently we have come to know as the 'free Iraq'.

  • Dushyant Patel

    That's exactly what I thought. The BBC and the media are going nuts over diaries of a serial liar, however I've still not heard about your book in main stream media.

    How about we start a phone/letter campaign to get Craig on the air?

  • Cide Hamete Benengel

    Please Craig, could you elaborate on your point about bribes? Do some of these advances amount to more than the total retail price of all the books sold?

    Taking off printing costs and booksellers' markup, I guess the publisher gets around 50% of the total retail price (let's call it TRP). So if the advance were 25% of the TRP one could argue that it was a very high royalty but still a commercial deal. At 50% of TRP we are probably talking about bribery. At more than TRP it certainly is a bribe!

  • Craig

    An author's royalty is in the range of 8 to 15% of the cover price. To be outside that range would be highly unusual. So on a ?15 hardback, the range is ?1.20 to ?2.25. On an ?8 paperback the range is 64p to ?1.20. If the book is discounted in a promotion, your royalty is dicounted too.

    On my commercial book deal, I got an advance of ?20,000, set against royalties. I have just about sold enough books now (around 20,000) to clear the advance, and will one day get a royalty cheque from further sales.

    But if my book had only sold 1,000 copies, I would not have had to pay back any of the advance.

    I have no evidence that politicians are getting special high royalty rates. What they are getting are commercially unrealistic huge advances, which they don't have to repay. Blunkett got a ?200,000 advance and has sold 3,500 books. Campbell got ?1 million.

  • DuncanMcFarlane

    I've never understood the amount of fawning over Alastair Campbell in the media as if he was some kind of intellectual heavyweight.

    The man has no talent whatsoever at anything except bullying or lying – and was involved in distorting British intelligence in the production of the Iraq dossier.

    He was hired to shout down phones at journalists and editors. The only reason they didnt shout back and tell him to "f*** off" was that most of the papers are owned by people like Murdoch who had shady media ownership deregulation for political support deals with Thatcher and subsequently Blair.

    Before his work as Blair's lackey he used to write excruciatingly bad porn stories for porn mags – as revealed by Mark Thomas who read out loud from Campbell's quite (unintentionally) hilarious "erotic" story "Busking with Bagpipes".

  • peacewisher

    Agreed, Dushyant.

    Many thousands of civil servants were clearly aware in late 2002 that Blair and Campbell were conspiring the mislead the public, and mislead parliament. Yet none of them, except David Kelly, actually took a personal risk to try and tell the public what was really going on.

    Even Claire Short allowed Blair to convince her that all was well, and it is clear from Craig's book that it was her visit to Uzbekstan that finally pricked her conscience.

    My personal opinion – and I've thought this since his excellent first speech at a STW rally – is that Craig is more sincere in his beliefs than either STW or George Galloway. He is doing this from the heart, whilst Galloway and the STW people are all politicians.

    I think we've discussed this here before, but there needs to be a gathering of people who are non-aligned politically (such as Bruce Kent?) in support of Craig, to promote his book more widely. If it becomes a best seller (and I can't see Amszon banning it, like the BBC banned "War, what's it any good for"), the current UK warmongering political consensus will be exposed. I wish!

  • peacewisher

    Not personally knocking George Galloway, just making the point that he is a politician. Galloway also needs everyone's support at the moment, because it looks like the Murdoch establishment are putting the boot in again.

  • NickW

    "I think there needs to be an investigation into the practice by publishers of paying massive advances to politicians, which they know will never be recouped."

    Craig, your cost-benefit analysis of book advances overlooks one important factor: serialisation rights. Doubtless the publishers have already regained most (if not all) of the advance paid to Mr Campbell through the BBC TV doohickey and excerpts published in the press. I'm irked that having already paid Alistair Campbell's salary for the best part of a decade as Blair's press secretary, my licence fee is being used to saturate-bomb the British television-viewing public with tedious PR for a foul-mouthed ex-press monkey turned jumped-up valet and his censored memoirs.

  • Craig


    I don't think so – certainly in my case the advance didn't cover serialisation rights, which I retained, not the publisher (and indeed I sold). I expect Campbell's agent is as good as mine, and he gets serial rights on top of the advance.

    Indymedia are saying that he got a ?30,000 fee from the BBC as well, for allowing them to give him more publicity than for any book since the Bible.

  • peacewisher

    Even ACs facts are wrong, according to last week's Sunday Times serialisation article on the diaries.

    The article tells us that the first Iraq dossier was plagiarised from the Internet, and the second one was the more serious piece of work (or spin!)

    However, we all know that the dossier with the spin came out in September 2002, and the Internet plagiarised one was Jan/Feb 2003.

    Do they really think people are that stupid?

  • Dushyant Patel

    So…. what do people think about e-maling and calling the BBC to get the book some exposure? Anyone have any decent numbers/e-mails to contact?

  • andy cyan

    Power to your elbow Dushyant 🙂

    The site medialens.org specialises in petitioning the media on issues very like Craig's underexposure.

    Heres a few emails grabbed from there:

    Steve Herrmann, head of BBC news online

    Email: [email protected]

    Paul Adams, Chief Diplomatic Correspondent for BBC News 24

    Email: [email protected]

    Write to Gavin Esler

    Email: [email protected]

    Newsnight editor Peter Barron, c/o of Sarah Teasdale

    Email: [email protected]

    Helen Boaden, head of BBC news

    Email: [email protected]

    Send a complaint to Channel 4:



    (paste as one line with no spaces)

    See material on 'Complaining to C4', including a model letter, at http://portal.campaigncc.org/node/1820

    Send a complaint to Ofcom:

    Richard and Judy (grabbed from their site)

    [email protected]

    Shamefuly, I dont feel well placed for dialogues with such persons just at the mo, but i believe this type of action is influential. Let the good word spread!

  • hillblogger3

    Agree! But bastard is probably a compliment as far as Campbell is concerned – that's how he wanted the guys around TB (not tuberculosis) to know him when he was around.

    The guy was an arrivist, a hypocrite but bottom line,he was just a plonker.

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