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Doctor Spin tells us how he empties his vowels

UNDER THE FLAG

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Picking sides

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.

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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.

"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.

<em> Illustration: Rocco Fazarri</em>

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.

Always!

''Piss or get off the pot.''

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132 comments

  • Just what Labor needed, another pommie spin doctor's advice.

    Sheesh some people are just too dopey for words.

    Commenter
    SteveH.
    Date and time
    June 25, 2013, 6:47AM
    • McTernan seemed to summarise his term as chief spin doctor when asked about the decision to push the at-home-with-Jules knitting story:

      "It was a no brainer".

      Commenter
      Hacka
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      June 25, 2013, 9:13AM
    • Labor provide more evidence of being are so lost in their own spiralling demise: Gillard's further poor judgement by seeking advice from yet another foreign spin merchant. Why is our PM wasting public taxpayer time with this McTiernanV2?
      It's also a bad look for Gillard to engineer ridiculous contrived selfie-like photos of "me knitting for the future king/queen of England (btw I am a Republican) "

      So much for the business of governing we were promised.
      Can Labor get any further off-key with the real world?

      Commenter
      yys
      Date and time
      June 25, 2013, 9:15AM
    • Come Sept, having destroyed Gillard's political career and leaving the ALP in a smoking ruin, McTernan will quietly slip out of the country and return to work with UK Labour. As puppet master for Gillard, history will not be kind to McTernan over his demolition of the modern day Australian Labor party. Then again it was Gillard's judgment that allowed McTernan to continue scripting her daily speeches and experiment with devisive and deceptive sexist tactics that have backfired so sensationally. At least Campbell got Blair across the line - but then again Gillard is hardly a Tony Blair.

      Commenter
      Tim of Altona
      Date and time
      June 25, 2013, 10:10AM
    • I have come to the conclusion that the PM following the advise of Mctiernan is as guilty as the spin doctor. Doesn't she have any say or doesn't she think for herself? This is why Gillard is judged as inept and not trustworthy. As a woman, I think she lost her credibility when she used her gender as a shield to blame others of her faults and inefficiencies.

      Commenter
      Lita
      Date and time
      June 25, 2013, 10:49AM
    • You make it sound like a visit from an old friend. The article conveniently doesn't mention that he has been granted a visa.
      From the English Telegraph...
      “Misuse of twitter part 644 @AusHouseLondon can you check out what happened to my electronic visa application from 2 weeks ago please?” he [Campbell] tweeted again. Seven hours later it was all resolved. “Many thanks to @AusHouse London and @SandiHLogan for sorting visa issue. Good use of twitter part 645.”
      I didn't realise that we had consular staff (yes, good on you Sandi H Logan) trawling Twitter to fix up people's visa problems - unless that is of course you're needed by the Antipodean Labor Party.

      Commenter
      Colours
      Location
      Real world
      Date and time
      June 25, 2013, 10:51AM
    • I wouldn't follow his insights too much. When he toured with Lions in 2005 to NZ he "discovered" NZers like rugby, beer and pies. OMG no-one else ever came to the same conclusion

      Commenter
      Crusaders.Fan
      Date and time
      June 25, 2013, 11:57AM
    • Which just goes to show how full of it the media is. Leadership challenge ...yeah right. Now that you have this wrong, can you focus on what we really want to see and that is a fair comparrison of policies ? I did'nt think so!

      Commenter
      mr Simpson
      Date and time
      June 25, 2013, 12:39PM
    • Damn straight Tim of Altona, Blair was a guy who swept into power on the back of The Sun, and basically boredom of being lead by conservatives for 2 decades. Gillard is someone who tried for leadership because she felt the government was losing it's way, against a man who....well basically sat in the corner, folded his arms and sulked. It's just occured to me that this wasn't a back knifing at all. Kev just wanted it to seem that way. Talk about a bad loser. He didn't even try to see it through to see if he lost or not. Argh, some people are SO irritating!

      Commenter
      Matheus
      Date and time
      June 25, 2013, 12:54PM
    • Amazing - first 4 comments from LNP Party Hacks - again

      Commenter
      Rational Thinker
      Date and time
      June 25, 2013, 1:16PM

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