It hasn’t been a great week for Albanian-British relations. On Monday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman singled out Albanian asylum seekers for fuelling the UK’s immigration crisis. With more than 12,000 Albanians arriving in the UK this year on small boats, Braverman stated the majority were adult single males

The Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama was not impressed. Rama said the government should not blame Albania for its own “policy failures” and that Braverman’s reasoning was “insane”. He stated Albanians in the UK “work hard and pay tax”, calling on the government to fight “crime gangs of all nationalities”.

It was a daring bit of PR to blame the country illegal immigrants were landing in rather than the country they come from. Who could be capable of helping Rama with such nifty sophistry? Step forward Alastair Campbell.

For a number of years, the Albanian Prime Minister’s Socialist Party has been advised on campaigning by the New Labour spin doctor. Campbell states Rama “is a big fan of New Labour, of Tony Blair’s politics, and of our approach to strategy and comms”. 

Rama, like David Cameron, took two attempts to achieve a single party majority, winning one in 2017 with 48 per cent of votes cast, a feat the party repeated in 2021. Its success in 2017, Campbell states, was helped by “fighting very much on a New Labour policy and positioning platform”. 

The use of spin-doctors like Campbell has been part of Albania’s attempts to shake off the nation’s stereotypical image of corruption and crime. Campbell was one of key figures who helped to create a communications campaign addressing corruption in public services

Indeed, relations between Rama and Campbell are such that he agreed in September to appear on the chart-topping “The Rest is Politics” podcast Campbell co-hosts with former Tory MP Rory Stewart. 

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