A colleague was surprised to see Alastair Campbell, former New Labour spindoctor, on the plane back from Astana earlier this week. They both took the Wednesday flight from the Kazakhstan capital to Vienna before transferring to London.
We have written before that Tony Blair has been out to Astana a few times since leaving office. For those who are not familiar with the Central Asian country, it has been criticised in the past for its lack of human rights, as Alex Barker quoted the US state department in a recent blog.
Campbell wouldn’t tell me whether his visit was in any way connected to Mr Blair, saying that was a matter for the former prime minister’s spokesman. (Who still hasn’t come back to me). But he was otherwise quite open that he was there in a commercial capacity via “ACFM”, his partnership with his Fiona Millar. (It’s not listed at Companies House as it is a partnership.)
I’m not sure it was public knowledge that Campbell is now doing some corporate advisory work. He admitted that he was in Astana for an “energy forum“, a two-day event attracting various heads of states and major energy companies from around the world. (The FT held an event there btw.) Was that why he was there? “Partly, I do some work with some energy companies,” he said.
He told me he is now doing a bit of consultancy work: though “nothing like on the scale that Tony is doing“. “I’m much more interested in writing and other stuff,” he said.