Praise for Wigan students as they quiz Tony Blair’s former aide Alistair Campbell

Politics, the media, mental health and football were on the agenda when Wigan and Leigh College students spoke to Alistair Campbell.
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Best known for his work as director of communications and strategy for Prime Minister Tony Blair from 1997 to 2003, Mr Campbell is also a prominent British journalist, broadcaster, political aide and author of two books on mental health.

He took part in a live video chat and spent nearly two hours answering questions from students on the A-level professional honours programme.

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They discussed everything from current politics and US President Donald Trump’s reign of power to the state of the media, its role in politics and Labour’s handling of the Iraq war.

Alistair CampbellAlistair Campbell
Alistair Campbell

Mr Campbell said: “It was a real pleasure to talk to Wigan and Leigh A-level students and take their questions.

“They were not just interested in politics and political issues, but well-informed and worried about a lot that is happening in the world right now.

“We also discussed mental health and I was pleased that they were later going to be discussing some of the ideas I have broadcast and written about in the past to help deal with mental health challenges.”

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The long-suffering Burnley fan added: “Inevitably we discussed various North West football teams and I was able to recall my many visits to Wigan Athletic, in the days before Burnley became an established Premier League club!”

Alistair Campbell took part in a video call with the studentsAlistair Campbell took part in a video call with the students
Alistair Campbell took part in a video call with the students

Mr Campbell promised to give copies of one of his books to three students - Abigail Lythgoe, Drew Whittle and Abbi Breeze.

He also demonstrated to students his “jam jar” analogy when talking about managing mental health, to discuss ways in which they could “extend their jam jar” to make them more resilient to life’s challenges.

Psychology lecturer Jonny Evans invited Mr Campbell to take part in the session as part of a professional development day, to help students explore industry and other topics.

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He said: “It was a real privilege for Alistair to agree to talk to the students.

“His experience in the corridors of power at number 10 and his wide knowledge about how political institutions impact society were a joy to interrogate him on.

“The students did us proud asking insightful and thoughtful questions, spanning from the Iraq war to how he believed he and Tony Blair would have managed the Covid crisis differently to his experience of mental health, his work with mental health charities and how things need to change in terms of funding for mental health services.”

Former Shevington High School pupil Abigail Lythgoe, who is studying the A-level health professional pathway, said: “I found Alistair’s talk very enlightening into the world of politics and mental health - a very grey area for a young person such as myself. I found it particularly useful as I now feel more enthusiastic and educated about politics and how it now and will inevitably affect my own life as someone who will be allowed to vote in a few short years.

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“I found the way he answered questions very interesting and entertaining and can now add him to a growing list of people to look up to as a role model.”

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