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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 17:41 GMT 18:41 UK
Pundits divided over Campbell
Alastair Campbell
Campbell said it was a 'great privilege' to serve Tony Blair
Politicians and political commentators have been divided by the news that Alastair Campbell has resigned as Tony Blair's press chief.

A selection of Friday's reactions follows:

"The picture of Alastair Campbell painted by parts of the media has always been a caricature.

"The Alastair Campbell I know is an immensely able, fearless, loyal servant of the cause he believes in, who was dedicated not only to that cause but to his country.

"He is a strong character who can make enemies but those who know him best, like him best."

Tony Blair, Prime Minister


"Alastair has often been controversial and occasionally infuriating, but has always been the most effective, talented and committed spokesman for the prime minister, government and party that any prime minister has ever had.

A person who will be a very lonely man today is Tony Blair
Michael Cockerell, documentary maker

"(That) is why so many opponents in politics and the media have sought to demonise him."

David Blunkett, Home Secretary


"It's very sad news. I've known Alastair for an awful long time, 20 years... and quite frankly he'll be very much missed. He's a talented and humorous man."

John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister


"He presided over an appalling period in government communication. Campbell was obsessed with presentation, but the real culprit is Mr Blair.

"Blair is responsible ultimately for the loss of trust because he allowed the methods Campbell employed to operate."

Sir Bernard Ingham, former press secretary to Baroness Thatcher


"He was always steadfast, working at the highest possible distinction.

"Some outsiders may have their differences with him, however there is no doubt that he has served the prime minister with brilliance, good judgment, a thick skin and a remarkable sense of humour."

It's like having Tony Blair's brain literally taken out
Political commentator Michael Brown
Former US assistant secretary of state James Rubin, who worked with Mr Campbell under President Clinton.


"Is the person to replace Campbell to be a press officer or is he to be made deputy prime minister?

"Campbell was made deputy prime minister and that is totally unacceptable."

Former Labour MP and veteran anti-war campaigner Tony Benn


"The timing of this could hardly be more surprising. Lord Hutton's inquiry still has a long way to go and Alastair Campbell's role, as a matter under investigation, is still a live issue.

"Alastair Campbell's departure allows the prime minister the opportunity to bring an end to the culture of spin and media manipulation which has so disfigured his government in recent times."

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Menzies Campbell


"I always found Alastair straight and was always glad when I took his advice. He deserves to be remembered for his contribution over a whole decade in giving the best possible presentation to our message, in opposition and in government.

"Like a lot of people, I do hope he will yet be publishing those diaries."

Former foreign secretary Robin Cook, who is said to have been prompted by Campbell into telling his wife he was divorcing her for his secretary


"He's tall, fair-haired and handsome and can certainly shoot his mouth off when he needs to.

"And of course he can be a bully, but you wouldn't survive five minutes in a job like that without being a bully.

"And he can be charming when he wants to."

Political editor of the Guardian, Michael White, who was in a fist-fight with Mr Campbell when both were journalists on the Daily Mirror


"Alastair Campbell's decision to pick this fight with the BBC has actually done some damage to the BBC but greater damage to the Government.

"It was widely felt that it was time he moved on. I think he felt that his personal integrity was impugned as well as his reputation."

Former independent MP Martin Bell


"Of course he will be greatly missed by Tony Blair.

"It's like having Tony Blair's brain literally taken out and how he's going to be able to continue without Alastair Campbell is going to be very interesting to watch.

"Alastair Campbell has been taking vital political decisions, offering vital political advice to the prime minister."

Political commentator and former Tory MP Michael Brown


He has served the prime minister with brilliance, good judgment, a thick skin and a remarkable sense of humour
Former US assistant secretary of state James Rubin

"He leaves already totally vindicated by the evidence."

Former Labour minister Gerald Kaufman on Campbell resigning during the Hutton Inquiry


"It was clear to me then that he was going to stay around for at least winning a second term.

"It seemed to me though, after they'd done that, in a way almost the fight went out of him a bit.

"A person who will be a very lonely man today is Tony Blair."

Michael Cockerell, who made a documentary about Mr Campbell in 2000


"Every day he will have seen important papers and had important meetings. It may have been an immense pressure but also hugely interesting and stimulating and the cut off from that will come as a shock to him.

"Because he had the Prime Minister's trust, he had power. Whoever takes over from him will not have the same levels of power because they will not have the same relationship with the Prime Minister."

Peter McMahon, a friend of Mr Campbell and former Daily Mirror political editor


Mr Campbell was "quite clearly going to take the full blame to protect the prime minister". It was "true Campbell style" to chose to resign on a Friday afternoon in the middle of the summer recess.

"Alastair Campbell is someone who the Labour Party is deeply indebted to."

Richard Ottaway, Conservative MP and member of the foreign affairs committee


"The timing of this announcement makes it look like a spin to end a spin.

"The real issue remains unanswered. What evidence did the government have to lead them to believe that Saddam Hussein was a threat and that the country should go to war?"

MP for Newcastle North Doug Henderson


"I know Alastair is a controversial figure, but as far as I was concerned I never found him anything but helpful, someone who gave good advice and understood the problems of the services.

Lord (Charles) Guthrie, former Chief of Defence Staff





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