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The BBC's Andrew Marr
"He is enormously important to Tony Blair"
 real 56k

The BBC's Tim Finch
"For some time the Prime Minister's spokesman has been concerned that he has too high a profile"
 real 56k

Peter Oborne, Campbell's unofficial biographer
"There has been some sense that this was going to happen for some time"
 real 28k

Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Campbell to leave frontline
Alastair Campbell
There is concern within Labour about Campbell's media profile
Alastair Campbell, the prime minister's official spokesman, is to step back into the shadows to take a backroom role if Labour wins the general election, it has emerged.


We are not going to comment on speculation about events which may or may not happen after an election

Downing Street spokesman

Increasing political and domestic pressures are said to be behind the decision to create a new job for him as the prime minister's director of communications.

Downing Street is refusing to comment on what it describes as "speculation".

Mr Campbell's proposed new role would involve developing strategy over the longer term and would take him away from high-profile daily clashes with political correspondents.

'Run by spin'

The chief press secretary's decision comes after fears within the Labour Party that his high public profile is deflecting attention away from other issues.

A report in the Independent newspaper quotes an unnamed minister who says Mr Campbell's work as press secretary has led to accusations that the government is "run by spin, instead of using spin".

Mr Campbell is also believed to want a less hectic schedule to allow him to spend more time with his family.

The BBC's political editor Andrew Marr said: "He has considered quitting Number 10 entirely on several occasions but he appears to have decided to stay with Mr Blair for as long as the Prime Minister wants him - which would be for a long time yet."

'Speculation'

A Downing Street spokesman said: "We are not going to comment on speculation about events which may or may not happen after an election, whenever that may be."

And the Labour Party said: "We are not going to comment on any speculation about what people may or may not be doing after the election."

Media attention led to Mr Campbell withdrawing from daily press briefings last year, although he has now resumed them and appears in the lobby about three times a week.

Much of the interest in his role has been blamed on a fly-on-the-wall television documentary about his job as press secretary last year.

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See also:

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Spinner's slow and televised death
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24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
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13 Jul 00 | UK Politics
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12 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Spin doctor makes his own headlines
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