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Tony Blair's Spokesman Has Stories to Tell

Aug 4, 2007 (Weekend Edition Saturday)

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Barely a month after Tony Blair left 10 Downing Street, the former prime minister's right-hand man has published a set of personal diaries.

Alastair Campbell's The Blair Years gives an inside look into the Blair government, from the time Campbell became spokesman in 1994 until he stepped down in 2003, six years into the premiership.

Campbell was at the heart of the New Labor movement, which propelled an ailing party — loser of four successive British general elections — to victory in the next three.

Campbell's 750-page tome sheds light on the key events and personalities that shaped Blair's term: the death of Princess Diana, peace negotiations in Northern Ireland, the Sept. 11 attacks and the wars in Kosovo and Iraq.

He also keeps notes on more mundane, but often funny, tidbits: Bill Clinton's glossy manicure, shoe size and willingness to confide about the Monica Lewinsky scandal; Jacques Chirac reading small talk from cue cards; Nelson Mandela's punctiliousness.

Some of the most intriguing entries detail a set of secret meetings held in a private house in London between the Blairs and Princess Diana in the years before Labor came to power.

Campbell chats with Scott Simon about his extensive diaries and his years in Downing Street.

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