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.