On Monday evening I attended a Labour Fundraiser with some of my fellow Wolfstar team at Oulton Hall in Leeds. Opportunities like this do not come often for a student, and again I feel very fortunate to have my work experience at such a supportive company like Wolfstar!
I arrived at the event with Tim Sinclair, who is the Chairman at Wolfstar. Oulton Hall is a truly spectacular building and I advise anybody who gets the chance to visit to have a look around! We went straight to the room where the sponsors were gathered (mostly men in business suits) and I admit I was a little starstruck when I saw Alastair Campbell chatting away to a small group of people. I know he is both loved and hated, but undeniably respected and was arguably one of the most influential men in Britain during the ‘Blair years’ and an important figure in the PR world, so I felt very lucky indeed to be in the same room as him (I’m a geek, I know!).
We were then led into a large dining hall full of tables paid for by supports of the Labour party. This included a table full of Leeds University (rivals!) Labour Party students who all seemed very excited. We were first given a speech by John Middleton who then introduced us to Jamie Hamney, the Labour Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Pudsey constituency. The fundraiser was for him to try to help Labour keep this seat, as the Conservatives are targeting the area and have more funds available to campaign.
After a delicious starter and main meal we got the chance to listen to Alastair Campbell’s speech. Having never really heard him speak before I was expecting great things from what I’d been told and I wasn’t disappointed. Alastair had the room in his hands as he humorously described some of his past experiences in politics and his personal life before moving onto the serious business of how he thought Labour could beat the Tories at the upcoming General Election.
Alastair was still confident that Labour could steal a victory and thought that the chances looked better now than they did a few months ago. I’d have to say I agree with him. It wasn’t long ago that it seemed a Brown led Labour didn’t stand a chance in the Elections, but now the tides seem to have changed and even the media seems to have laid off Brown. Alastair also said that the Conservatives didn’t have any long-term, strategic plans and that their billboard posters (Vote for Change which was attacked with ‘Airbrushed for Change’) hadn’t been effective.
The way Mr Campbell spoke made everyone in the room feel elevated and it was obvious he’d had ample experience in public speaking, something I tried to pay as much attention to as possible as a PR student in the hope that some of his confidence might rub off on me! He had a way of connecting with the audience, which I suppose wasn’t too hard seeing as they were all Labour supporters, but even those of us that are floating in-between parties (such as myself) seemed drawn into the energy.
We were all given a free copy of Mr Campbell’s book, ‘The Blair Years’ and I went up to get mine signed personally along with a picture! It’s not everyday someone gets to meet Alastair Campbell and it’s not everyday a PR student gets to meet such a fantastic public speaker!