Alastair Campbell’s daughter Grace: Why I’m steering clear of broken politics

As the daughter of arguably Britain’s best-known spin doctor, Grace Campbell has been immersed in the world of politics ever since she was born a quarter of a century ago.
Feminist campaigner and stand-up Grace Campbell with her father Alastair. Picture: Ken McKay/ShutterstockFeminist campaigner and stand-up Grace Campbell with her father Alastair. Picture: Ken McKay/Shutterstock
Feminist campaigner and stand-up Grace Campbell with her father Alastair. Picture: Ken McKay/Shutterstock

Now she is hoping to take the Edinburgh Festival Fringe by storm by exploring why the UK’s current political system is so broken.

A year after launching a career as a stand-up, the daughter of Tony Blair’s most trusted confidant, Alastair Campbell, will be at the Gilded Balloon with a show entitled Why I’m Never Going Into Politics.

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The 25-year-old performer, filmmaker and activist will discuss how her Westminster upbringing left her determined to steer clear of mainstream politics by the time she was a teenager. Campbell has already made her name as co-founder of the feminist activist group The Pink Protest, which is aimed at helping to build “a global movement of young people who want to change the world”.

Grace Campbell. Picture: Amelia Allen.Grace Campbell. Picture: Amelia Allen.
Grace Campbell. Picture: Amelia Allen.

Campbell had been dabbling in writing comedy since she was 19, but it was not until she made her TV debut a year ago – on a hidden camera feminist prank show for Channel 4 – that she harboured notions of performing live on stage. 
She said: “It was only when I was making Riot Girls that I realised how much of a bug I had for performing.

“As soon as I started doing stand-up I instantly thought: ‘Oh my god, this is so for me.’

“You can say what you want without anyone telling you it’s too this or that. You’ve so much autonomy over what you’re trying to say.

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“As someone who has always had things I want to talk about in the world, such as feminism and politics, you can just go up and do it. You see what works and what doesn’t work straight away.

“I love that everyone has an opinion on something like Brexit, which has dominated the news agenda for the best part of three years. It’s impossible for people not to think about it. People want to laugh about it, and find solace and community in how frustrated we all are.”

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Campbell hopes to raise laughs with material looking at why her generation have become “disengaged” from party politics, how Brexit is a “symptom” of the system’s failure, and the targeting of female politicians for abuse by online opponents.

But she will also examine how a generation of young people is creating its own campaigns to get issues on to the agenda and force politicians to act.

“I remember as a teenager people asking me if I would go into politics and I knew then that I never would.

“It’s such a hard occupation for really not much reward and it’s really difficult – a lot more than you’d think –to get things done. You can often have a lot more say on the outside.

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“I don’t think the only way to make change happen is to become a politician. I’m not s****ing on all politicians, I have a huge respect for them. But I’ve grown up inside Westminster. Now I want to be outside it.

“Female MPs are unbelievably and horrifically abused online. The abuse they’re put through is nothing like the abuse male politicians get.”

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The Pink Protest has launched successful campaigns on period poverty and female genital mutilation, and made videos for campaigns helping refugees and young women with mental health problems.

Campbell added: “What I’ve learned through all the work I’ve done with the Pink Protest, my own activist collective, is that our generation really knows how to use the internet and garner momentum around a particular cause or idea online, and then move it into mainstream politics.

“There is so much happening in terms of the relationship between young people and politics. It feels like the right time to do this show.”