Alastair Campbell reveals his Labour slogan for the next general election at book tour launch
Alastair Campbell former political adviser and co-host of the UK’s chart-topping podcast, The Rest is Politics, kick started the tour for his new book But What Can I Do? at a packed New Wimbledon Theatre on Tuesday 9 May.
The event, which is the latest in Wimbledon BookFest's series of authors talks for 2023 saw the seasoned politico in conversation with BBC Politics Live presenter, Jo Coburn. Campbell told the audience that the idea and title for the new book came from the question he is most asked by young people, who feel helpless to bring about change. And it wasn’t the only example Campbell shared of him tapping into the public zeitgeist. He asked his Twitter followers which Tory should be his co-presenter in a political podcast. Their outright winner was Rory Stewartâ€¦ and The rest (as they say) is politics.
Popularism, Polarisation and Post Truth
In his book Campbell argues that three Ps - Popularism, Polarisation and Post Truth - are shaping the current political landscape, with the tenure of Boris Johnson, Brexit and the recent treatment of anti-monarchy protestors at the King’s coronation as recent examples of each. He lobbied for people’s adoption of traits he summed up in a word of his own creation - ‘perseviliance’ - perseverance and resilience - to make the seeming impossible, possible. To make politics better, he continued, requires a certain amount of what he and Stewart describe as ‘disagreeing agreeably.’ Here Campbell reminded the audience of the work that led to The Good Friday Agreement and the political landscape after its signing which saw adversaries Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness working together to establish peace for the people of Northern Ireland.
Q&As, audience participation and a Labour slogan for the next election
The second half the evening saw Campbell take questions from the audience and the audience in turn polled by Campbell. Here are a few of the highlights:
Is he in favour of lowering the voting age to 16 and compulsory voting?
Yes. “My daughter Grace said, dad some 16-year-olds don’t know anything about politics. I said ‘Grace, I know, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70-year-olds that don’t either’.”
What about proportional representation?
Campbell polled the audience and asked if they felt the current voting system worked. A majority of hands revealed ‘No’. Though not a fan Campbell said he felt views were moving on this and seeping into the body politic.
Will Sadiq Khan still be mayor in 2024?
Campbell, who uses an asthma inhaler, said anyone who was prepared to tackle London’s air pollution had his vote.
Would he vote Liberal Democrat if it meant a Conservative lost the seat?
Yes, and he believes progressive alliances will become more prevalent.
What would his slogan for Labour be for the next General Election?
“New Labour, New Britain still works,” Campbell said with a smile, “but Keir Starmer is a serious man who wants to lead a country facing serious issues - so I’d suggest something like ‘A serious guy for serious times’.”
Alastair Campbell will be speaking at Wimbledon BookFest’s Introduction to University for 6th formers with University of Roehampton on 24 May 2023.
You can buy his book But What Can I Do? from the Festival’s Bookseller Partner, Waterstones, here.