Alastair Campbell, 53, is best known for his former role as Tony Blair’s spokesman, press secretary and director of communications and strategy. Still active in politics, he now splits his time between writing, speaking, charitable fundraising, politics and campaigns.
What was your earliest ambition?
To be a footballer. But I wasn’t very good at football.
Public school or state school? University or straight into work?
I went to Bradford Grammar for a term but we moved to Leicester when I was 11 and I went to City of Leicester Boys’, a comprehensive school which is now mixed. I went straight from school to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge to do modern languages. I believe good state schools, of which there are many, give a better, more rounded education than private schools.
Who was or still is your mentor?
In journalism, it was a mix of three Daily Mirror men: Richard Stott (assistant editor and editor, who would later edit my diaries), Syd Young and Geoff Lakeman, who were the Mirror’s district men in the West Country when I was a trainee reporter on the Tavistock Times and the Sunday Independent.
How physically fit are you?
Very, but never enough! My pulse rate this morning was 52, just below my age, which is a good sign. However, I have noticed a distinct drop in pace when both running and cycling in the last couple of years, which is dispiriting.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
How politically committed are you?
Very. I do not do politics in the same full-on way I once did, but it remains fundamental.
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
Yes. I still fly and drive but less than I did, and I am an obsessive light-switch-turner-offer.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
Bikes, expensive presents and travelling to Burnley games.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
I’m not really into the possessions game. The one thing I’d like is a football manager’s contract.
In what place are you happiest?
Provence, after the first few days of the summer holiday.
What ambitions do you still have?
I’d like to write more novels, do another marathon under four hours (currently unlikely) and an Olympic triathlon under three, have a new idea for TV, see Burnley in Europe, succeed in getting 50 £50,000 donations for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research’s 50th anniversary, see Labour back in power, have grandchildren and still have ambitions when I’m 80.
What drives you on?
Restlessness and curiosity, the fear of boredom and the desire to see change.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
Helping the Labour party get back into power and stay in power for a long time and do a lot of good.
What has been your greatest disappointment?
Losing friends and family.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?
“Christ, how the hell did that happen?”
If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?
Hope that the “everything” did not include Fiona and the kids, and start all over again.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
No, but I might nearer the time.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
Depends on my mood, but probably averages around the 7.5 mark.
Volume two of Alastair Campbell’s diaries, ‘Power and the People’, is out now. He will be speaking at the Tigrent Learning UK Great Minds 2011 Conference on March 26 at The Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow, London, in support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation UK