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Alastair Campbell passes on dark secrets of spin

There is a tradition of using delicate language when addressing gatherings of people from the caring world of FE.

As if to put the cat among the pigeons, the Association of Colleges has announced that one of the "keynote" speakers at its annual conference will be Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's former director of strategy and communications.

The master of spin and four-letter words will be at the rostrum in Birmingham for this year's gathering of principals, on November 17. He is expected to talk about colleges' media relations and how FE can climb the political agenda.

This year's unusually high-profile band of speakers also includes Prince Charles, in a pre-recorded video address.

And to bring delegates down to earth, there will be an appearance from Education Secretary Charles Clarke, Learning and Skills Council chief executive Mark Haysom and Confederation of British Industry director general Digby Jones.

Speakers will also include Lee Jasper, chair of the National Assembly Against Racism and race relations adviser to Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London.

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