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BUSINESS INSIGHT: Forget Number 10, Alastair Campbell was number one for Highland Business Dinner

By Colin Marr

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Alastair Campbell.
Alastair Campbell.

Over recent years I have become a huge fan of podcasts. Unlike radio, they allow me to listen to the people I want to listen to, when I want to. Over time the presenters become part of my life and can even feel like trusted friends.

For the last couple of years my favourite podcast has been The Rest is Politics. It’s presented by Alastair Campbell, who is probably best known as Tony Blair’s director of communications, and Rory Stewart – the former conservative cabinet minister. It might be your favourite too, as it’s been near the top of the podcast chart since it launched in March 2022.

The attraction is that two political heavyweights, from different sides of the divide, debate the biggest issues in domestic and global politics, in a friendly and reasonable manner. Their commitment to “disagree agreeably” is a wonderful antidote to our increasingly polarised public debate.

The Highland Business Dinner is one of Inverness Chamber of Commerce’s flagship annual events. So, when I was thinking of the guest speaker I wanted for my first dinner as CEO of the chamber, Alastair Campbell was top of my list. I’m delighted that he has agreed to join us on May 17.

Alastair has worked at the heart of government and been one of the UK's best known political strategists for decades, but he has so much more than that to offer. He has spoken openly about his struggles with depression and alcohol, and is credited with helping reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. Regular listeners to The Rest is Politics find his humanity to be in sharp contrast with the popular media portrayal of him during the Blair years.

Alastair has a deep affection for the Highlands. His dad grew up here and he was a close friend of the late Highland MP Charles Kennedy. Alastair’s latest best-selling book encourages us all to be involved in politics. On May 17 we are sure to be provoked into considering what part we can play in shaping our future.

Colin Marr is chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce.

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