About this event

  • Date and time Wed 4 Nov 2020 from 7:00pm to 8:00pm
  • Location Online

Register here to join our In Conversation Live with Alastair Campbell and Fiona Millar

Communicator and strategist Alastair Campbell, best known for his role as spokesman for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and journalist, writer and schools campaigner Fiona Millar will join Professor Sir Simon Wessely for this week’s episode of In Conversation Live. Topics under discussion will include their time working together at No 10 and their extensive charity work. Gender equality, women in leadership and mental ill health will also be on the agenda and Alastair will talk about his new book Living Better: How I Learned to Survive Depression.

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To read more about Alastair and Fiona please scroll down the page for their biographies. 

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Key speakers

Alastair Campbell

Alastair Campbell

Writer, Communicator and Strategist best known for his role as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s spokesman, Press secretary and Director of communications and strategy. Still active in politics and campaigns in Britain and overseas, he now splits his time between writing, speaking, charities and consultancy

Speaker's biography

Alastair has written fourteen books in the past ten years, including eight volumes of diaries, four novels, a personal memoir on depression and the pursuit of happiness, and Winners and How They Succeed, a Number 1 best-selling analysis of what it takes to win in politics, business and sport.

 

He has for many years been chairman of fund-raising of Bloodwise, Britain’s main blood cancer charity, but in recent years has become increasingly involved with mental health charities and causes, speaking about his own experience of depression, psychosis and addiction, and of his brother Donald’s lifelong struggle with schizophrenia. A former ‘Mind Champion of the Year’, he is an ambassador for the Time to Change campaign to raise awareness about mental illness, ambassador for Alcohol Concern, patron of Maytree, the country’s only charity for the suicidal, and of Kidstime, which supports the children of mentally ill parents. He co-founded the all-party campaign, Equality4MentalHealth, which was credited in Parliament by then Chancellor George Osborne with securing an extra £600million for mental health services. He is an active supporter of the Heads Together campaign headed be Prince William, his wife Kate, and Prince Harry. In November 2017 Alastair was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in recognition of his leadership role in breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness, and in fighting for better services.

In July 2007, he published his first book on his time with Tony Blair, The Blair Years, extracts from his diaries from 1994 to 2003, which was an instant Sunday Times Number 1 bestseller. He has since published six volumes of the full diaries, and a special edition of the diaries focused on the Northern Ireland peace process, ‘The Irish Diaries’. His first novel, All In The Mind, appeared in November 2008, to enthusiastic reviews for its frank examination of mental illness. His second novel Maya, a gripping analysis of fame and the obsession it attracts, was published in February 2010. His third novel, published in September 2013, was called My Name Is, and tells the story of a young girl’s descent into alcoholism. This led to him becoming an ambassador for Alcohol Concern. His fourth novel, Saturday Bloody Saturday, co-written with former footballer Paul Fletcher, will be published in February 2018.

 

In October 2008 Alastair broadcast an award-winning one hour documentary on BBC2 about his own breakdown in 1986. Both the film, Cracking Up, and All In The Mind, won considerable praise from mental health charities and campaign groups for helping to break down the taboo surrounding mental health, leading to his election as Mind Champion of the Year award in May 2009. He has also made a BBC documentary about alcoholism, and more recently a film about wildlife. He has made a film too about his love of bagpipe music, which ended with him performing in front of 2,500 people in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. He is currently making another mental health documentary.

 

Though he left a full-time role with the Blair government in 2003, he returned for the subsequent three general elections to help first Blair, then Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband. He also advised the Better Together campaign against independence for Scotland, and the Remain side in the EU referendum campaign. He continues to advise left of centre parties, in particular in the Balkans, where he has for some years been a strategic director for the Albanian Socialist Party, who won a landslide victory in June 2013, making Edi Rama Prime Minister, and a second term four years later.

 

Alastair has been Humanitas Visting Professor on media at Cambridge University, and has been honoured by both University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork for his contribution to the Northern Ireland Peace Process. He is on the advisory board of Portland PR, and in addition independently acts as an advisor to governments, businesses, charities, sports organisations and high profile individuals. He helped to found the world’s first university in football business, UCFB, in Burnley, Lancashire, which has since extended to Wembley and Manchester City’s Etihad stadium.

Fiona Millar

Fiona Millar

Writer, Journalist and campaigner on school issues

Speaker's biography

Fiona started her career as a news reporter, first on the Mirror Group’s graduate training schemes, then at the Daily Express and, after she had children, as a freelance feature writer. In 1993 she co-authored with Glenys Kinnock “By Faith and Daring”, a book of interviews with prominent women for the 5th anniversary of Virago Press.

 

Fiona worked for the Blairs in Downing Street after the 1997 election, first running Cherie Blair’s office and between 2001 and 2003 as Director of Events and Visits at No 10. During that time she was involved in national campaigning and had a direct insight in to the workings of government and party policy making, which has been invaluable since.

 

After leaving Downing Street In 2003 she became the chair of the National Family and Parenting Institute, a trustee of the Roundhouse and also chaired an investigation for Shelter on the impact on poor housing on families. Fiona began writing, broadcasting, and campaigning on education and parenting issues. One of her first projects was a film for Channel 4 about school choice.

 

Since then she has made several programmes on the issue of parents and schools for Teachers TV and the BBC. She was chair of Comprehensive Future, the campaign for fair admissions to secondary schools – between 2005 and 2012 - and is still a member of the steering committee. In 2006 she co-authored a pamphlet with fellow campaigner Melissa Benn for the pressure group Compass called “A Comprehensive Future. Quality and Equality for all our children”.

 

Drawing on her own experience as a working mother, during which she wrote “The Secret World of the Working Mother” in 2009, gave her a lasting interest in the issue of gender equality, work life balance and family policy. Fiona is a firm believer that the UK needs more women in leadership roles and that this won’t happen unless we have affordable childcare and can change the culture at home and in the workplace so that men and women can share and fit their caring responsibilities, whether for children or elderly relatives, around work.

 

In 2010 she helped to co-found the Local Schools Network with three fellow London parents. She is a member of the Welsh Education Minister’s Ministerial Advisory Group and actively involved in her own local schools. She is also the chair of the trustees of the National Youth Arts Trust, which aims to raise funds to support  disadvantaged young people in pursuing education and careers in the arts.

Location

Online

Disclaimer: All views expressed in this webinar are of the speakers themselves and not of the RSM.

 

The In Conversation Live webinar series will continue our much loved In Conversation events, giving you the opportunity to get first-hand insights into the lives and thoughts of high profile individuals, bringing an intimate, relaxed and entertaining perspective into your living room.    

The RSM In Conversation Live series form part of our new philanthropic initiative. All donations from this series directly fund the RSM's vision to advance health through education and innovation. 

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This webinar will be recorded and stored by the Royal Society of Medicine and may be distributed in future on various internet channels. 

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