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His appearance on Newsnight on Tuesday made the headlines, but just hours earlier former Downing Street Press Secretary, Alastair Campbell, urged our own students here at Trent College to see beyond negative media coverage of politics and really get to grips with what different parties stand for to exercise their right to vote for who runs their country.
Mr Campbell addressed a full audience of students, parents and staff as part of our Arts and Speakers Programme, discussing such wide-ranging topics from his fabled role as part of Tony Blair’s New Labour to writing novels to playing football with Maradona and his battles with alcoholism and depression.
But it was his messages about politics and students believing life does not get any better than their schooldays that left a lasting impression on the audience.
Mr Campbell said: “Really think about politics, don’t just go along with the bad press coverage and thinking that there are no differences between the parties. It is so important to vote. If you have time to vote on The X Factor you should make time to vote for who will run your country. There is a shift in power from West to East starting and your generation is going to have to pick that one up!
“The worst cliché to say to young people is school days are the best days of their life. You have to think the best days are always ahead of you. I believe in equality of opportunity, but not of outcome. There is talent in everyone if you can bring it out.”
He added: “Working in politics I wasn’t happy all the time but I’m happy I did it. I’m a workaholic, work is central to what we do, and that is how we can change the world. In this world of instant connection there is a sense of instant gratification being the route to happiness. I think it is long-term fulfilment which leads to happiness.”
Although a contentious figure as Tony Blair’s right hand man, communications strategist and chief spokesman, Campbell is one of a handful credited with transforming the political landscape in the late 1990s.
Our Arts and Speakers Programme sees a wide range of inspirational speakers, from the worlds of fashion, politics, sport, television, international business and adventure plus more academic offerings from medicine, theology, engineering and history, share their experiences and stories with students.
The programme aims to develop young minds to be curious, interested and open to fresh and different ideas. Among other guest speakers set for the 2013-14 academic year are Mark Wainwright, Chief Engineer responsible for the development of the Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine, and businessman, author, filmmaker and passionate shark conservationist, Richard Peirce, on working with sharks.