UNDER THE FLAG
With time running out for Labor MPs to make any leadership change, one Senator has slammed some of the PM's most senior supporters for goading Kevin Rudd.PT0M0S 620 349
When your house is in disarray, visitors are usually unwelcome. But in the Labor home, there are some people you will always invite in for tea, even if the floor is strewn with knickers and the sink piled with dishes.
Even if certain eccentric uncles, who may or may not be named Kevin, cannot be relied upon not to cause a scene as you're laying out the Iced VoVos.
"Master manipulator": Alastair Campbell. Photo: Reuters
These people are like family. They can be trusted.
On Monday Alastair Campbell, former media adviser to former British prime minister Tony Blair, co-author of the so-called ''dodgy dossier'' that made the ''case'' for the Iraq War, the man some call the ''master manipulator'' and others dare not call anything at all because they're afraid he will swear explosively at them, made a visit to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Campbell has a tricky reputation in his homeland, where he is considered the grand master of the dark art of spin doctoring. As such, he is something of a spiritual leader to political propagandists the world over - those who speak glowingly about ''winning the day'' and who invent sentences like ''a good government was losing its way'' to explain a prime ministerial head-lopping to a puzzled electorate.
Illustration: Rocco Fazarri
Campbell is a former journalist but has a tragically tetchy relationship with the press, a relationship not improved by an accidental email he once sent to a BBC journalist which included the line ''Now f--- off and cover something important you t---s!''
Nonetheless Campbell, between meeting the Prime Minister yesterday, found time to take questions from some gentlemen of the colonial press.
Fairfax Media's Michael Shmith asked Campbell whether it was possible for the government to reverse its fortunes, less than three months out from the election?
''If the public gets a sense that the story is one of division and disunity, then going into the election campaign, that is death,'' Campbell said, rather bluntly.
''I think this thing with Kevin Rudd has to . . . put it this way, the strategist in me says this has to be brought to a head.''
That seemed to be the theme of the day, which was coincidentally the three-year anniversary of the Gillard to Rudd prime ministerial switcheroo.
What, Shmith asked next, would Campbell tell Rudd if he were advising him?
''Do you want my honest truth?'' Campbell asked.
''Piss or get off the pot.''