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THERE is something eerie, and a little sinister, about the rise of the Campbell-Millars, as Alastair Campbell and his long-standing partner, Fiona Millar, are known in north London. Their rise started in the 1980s when they were young, unknown and ambitious. They ingratiated themselves with Neil and Glenys Kinnock: helping with the shopping and being on hand at a moment's notice. In due course, the Kinnocks and the Campbell-Millars went on holiday together, and were in and out of each other's houses. The friendship was helpful to Alastair Campbell's budding career as a journalist. His hotline to the leader of the opposition helped him become political editor of the Daily Mirror, the most powerful reporting job on the Left, at the early age of 32.
When Neil Kinnock quit the Labour leadership in 1992, the Campbell-Millars moved on. Neil Kinnock wanted Alastair Campbell to go with him to Brussels upon his appointment as European commissioner: he even went to the lengths of offering him the post of chef de cabinet. But the Campbell-Millars had by then gently dropped him. They had attached themselves to Tony and Cherie Blair. To begin with, Alastair made himself indispensable to the future Labour leader by helping with speeches, giving advice and writing laudatory profiles. The relationship was useful to Fiona's career as a freelance journalist. She became known within Fleet Street as the one person with ready access to Cherie Blair, then as now an unknown and fascinating commodity. After the election of Tony Blair as leader of the Labour party, Alastair accepted the job of press spokesman.
The Campbell-Millars are a post-democratic phenomenon. Now that the great age of mass democracy has passed, power has seeped away from elected politicians to their viziers. The prodigious rise of the …