Biteback is set to publish four new volumes of diaries from Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former chief press secretary and director of communications and strategy.
Iain Dale, m.d. of Biteback Publishing, has acquired world rights to the diaries from Ed Victor at Ed Victor Ltd. Campbell's previous books have been published by Penguin Random House.
The first volume will begin in 2003, where the previous instalment, The Burden of Power (Arrow), ended, with Campbell’s departure from Downing Street, with subsequent books covering the intervening years until 2015. Despite having left government, Campbell’s level of involvement "barely abated", the publisher said, as he continued to advise Blair (and later Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband) and played a "key role" in every election campaign since. It opens as Lord Hutton prepares to publish his report into the circumstances surrounding the death of former UN weapons inspector David Kelly, "sparking a huge crisis" for the BBC, which had cited him as a source on a story about Iraq. Meanwhile the Blair–Brown relationship is "fracturing almost beyond repair" and Campbell is tasked with devising a plan that will enable the two men to come together to fight a united election campaign.
Away from politics, the diaries will talk "frankly" about Campbell’s continued struggles with mental health issues, as well as his work in sport and his return to journalism as he tries to find a new purpose in life.
Dale said: "When I heard from Ed Victor that we had agreed terms, I literally punched the air. I’ve read every word of the previous four volumes and, in my opinion, Alastair’s diaries represent the most valuable political historical documents of the last 20 years. There’s no spin, no editing out the awkward bits, just raw politics told in an entertaining and engaging manner. You get a unique perspective from someone who, even after he had left No. 10, was still right at the centre of things.
"Whether you’re an enemy or a fan of New Labour, if you read these diaries you won’t see Tony Blair, Gordon Brown or the events he covers in the same light ever again. I’ve been trying to entice Alastair to Biteback for some time and I could not be more delighted that we’ve been able to do a deal. It represents a huge long-term commitment from Biteback and I know my colleagues and I are going to enjoy the journey."
Alastair Campbell said: "I am very pleased to be working with Iain Dale – not a bad guy for a Tory – and Biteback on publishing my post-2003 diaries. The first book with Biteback – Volume 5: Never Really Left – will be published in the autumn, and although it begins the day after I left Downing Street, it becomes clear that I never fully left and was centrally involved with Tony Blair up to the election of 2005, where this volume will end. It also, therefore, covers the publication of and fallout from the Hutton Inquiry, and the deal I helped put together to get Tony and Gordon Brown co-operating during the campaign, as well as my attempts – and failures – to adapt to a new kind of life, branching out into different areas, alongside the realisation of continuing mental health issues that required proper attention."
"I hope the four volumes Iain and Biteback intend to publish in the coming years, added to the four volumes already published by Random House, will be a vivid and essential record of an important period in modern political history."
The first volume will be published in autumn 2016, with subsequent books over the next three years. The books will be supported by a major publicity campaign.