Keating helped Blair to hate

LONDON: Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell has revealed how he once tried to get his boss lessons in how to "hate" conservative politicians from Paul Keating.

In a new book released in Britain yesterday, Campbell recounted a trip Blair made Downunder in 1995 when he was Britain's Labour opposition leader and Keating - master of the political put-down - was Australia's Labor Prime Minister.

During the trip, Keating offered a range of advice to Blair ranging from handling elections to dealing with media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Blair had been invited by Murdoch to address his News Corporation editors on Queensland's Hamilton Island, which Keating also attended.

Campbell says in his book, The Alastair Campbell Diaries: Prelude to Power 1994-1997, that he was so impressed by Keating, who was renowned for his hatred and acid-tongued attacks on his political opponents, that he believed Blair could learn from him.

"I asked Keating if he could coach Tony in how to hate Tories," Campbell writes.

"He said TB was probably right because every time he went over the top he went down in the polls."

In another conversation, Keating demonstrated his notorious vitriol for the-then Liberal Party leader John Howard.

Keating told Blair he believed Australian voters "would be making a terrible mistake" if they elected Howard as Prime Minister at the 1996 general election.

Campbell recalled Keating telling Blair that Howard was "a nobody, stands for nothing, nothing to say about the future".

Keating also had some tips for Blair on economic issues, telling him that if he ever became prime minister he should avoid income tax hikes at all costs.

"Tony, promise me you won't raise income tax. It's death.

"Labour parties around the world have enough to contend with without hanging that round their necks. It's not worth it."


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