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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
'Why I quit' - Campbell interview
Following his resignation as Tony Blair's media chief, Alastair Campbell gave the following interview to the BBC's political editor Andrew Marr.

Why did you want to go?

Alastair Campbell
Mr Campbell said his family suffered because of his job
It's been an extraordinarily privileged position to be in and I have had the most extraordinary experience being in this position for as long as I have.

But for all the upsides that I get in doing the job there are downsides in terms of the pressure on your time and the family are the people who bear the brunt of that.

I just felt this was the right time to go, I thought if I wasn't going to stay the whole Parliament then mid-term was probably about the right time to go and let someone else come in and do the job.

Do you think you have become 'the story' too often?

People say 'well it's a problem because you have become the story' and they keep talking about you and writing about you and there's not much you can do about it.

But I have never accepted the premise anyway. I have no power, never have had, independent of the prime minister, who is elected.

I have always been there to serve the prime minister and the government in the way that the prime minister and other ministers want me to.

But you have been at the apex of this government in a way that nobody with your kind of position ever has.

Anything I have done, I have done because the prime minister has wanted me to work for him, and for the government, in a certain way.

Every single day I have done this job - both in opposition and in government - I have done it to the best of my ability.

I have done it because of what I believe in. I have done it because of my fundamental beliefs in the Labour Party - its values, its principles and convictions.

One of your colleagues described you as the 'ruthless political hatchet man'. Is that how you see yourself?

I don't see myself as ruthless, but I've always been driven and I've always believed what I believe very, very deeply.

I don't think you can do a job like this unless you do believe what you believe very deeply, because the pressures can be very intense and the hours are very demanding and the situations you have to deal with are very challenging and complicated.

What do you think you have brought Tony Blair and the government?

I have always tried to give Tony Blair and other ministers honest, straightforward advice as I see it and advice about any situation that we may be involved in - and we are involved in a lot of difficult and complicated situations a lot of the time.

We have always had a very frank, straightforward relationship and a relationship built on trust.

A lot of people say that spin has become for this government what sleaze was for the last government, and in a way that's why it was right for you to move on.

I feel it's right for me to move on because it's what I and my family want me to do.

I think in relation to all of these questions about the way that politics and the media relate to each other - I think there are very complicated and interesting questions that have to be addressed there.

But it is a two way street - I mean we're both involved in this.

I have always tried to do this job to the best of my ability, based on fundamental convictions that I hold.

And for those people who think your resignation must be something to do with Hutton?

I agreed with the prime minister last April that I would definitely go in the summer and I don't want to say anything about the Hutton Inquiry at all.

Now I will be around for a short period to assist in the handover to somebody else who will be coming in and I will then continue to take an interest in politics and in writing and in broadcasting and in all sorts of other things.

I want to do more work with the leukaemia charity that I have been involved in and I want to get more involved in sport, which is one of my great passions.

But the thing I most want to do is get a life back for me and my family.

And the diaries?

I know the diaries have attracted a certain amount of interest since their existence was revealed in the Inquiry.

But you can rest assured that anything I write will be some time off.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Alastair Campbell
"I have always been there to serve the prime minister and the government"



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