Dylan Jones: If you ask me

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The Alastair Campbell Diaries is the gift that keeps on giving. A few months ago the gossip in the bars and restaurants of central London was full of anecdotes gleaned from its 794 pages. There was Tony Blair denying that he was "Labour" in the way that most people understood it; there was Blair saying his party was right to embrace those elements of Thatcherism that the public didn't find totally abhorrent; and there was Blair – again – on page 467 telling policy advisor Peter Hyman that what gives him "real edge" is the fact that he isn't "as Labour as you lot", before Campbell points out that this was a rather discomfiting observation from the leader of the Labour Party.

And still the bon mots keep coming: just last week a latecomer told me that, having just finished the Diaries on holiday, they will be voting Liberal Democrat for the foreseeable future. My own favourite stories mostly involve Neil Kinnock, initially when he is trying to dissuade Campbell from going to work as Blair's press secretary (essentially because Kinnock wants him to become his own chef de cabinet); then when, in the same breath, he slags off the press ("a bunch of shits") while praising the likes of Brian Walden, Jeremy Paxman and Michael Parkinson (all members of, er, the press); and finally when he berates Campbell for attending Rupert Murdoch's Australian pow-wow in the summer of 1995 ("You imagine what it's like having your head stuck inside a fucking light bulb!").

The first time I met Kinnock was at a film premier in Leicester Square in 1987, when we were introduced by Lynne Franks, the former PR guru (and one-time Buddhist, who I once witnessed chanting for the traffic to move as we inched along Park Lane in her Mercedes). But while Kinnock's wife was all sweetness and light – she was effortlessly charming as well as intriguingly sexy – all he could do was give me a hard time because I hadn't put him on the cover of the magazine I happened to be working on at the time. He looked like a man who picked fights first, and regretted them second (especially with the press).

As for Campbell, having read his book I now know why he ducked out when he did. After all, as the Italians are fond of saying: you are a donkey if you don't work. And you are also a donkey if you work too much.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

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