Sunday, 30 September 2007
Anyone who works in public relations knows the pitfalls of evaluation. But just because it is not an exact science doesn't mean it can be ignored. Evaluation will provide you with data. And the fact that you build in monitoring and evaluation makes your strategy more rigorous at the planning stage.
As for new media, it is a growing obsession among communicators. My own advice is make sure you understand it, or know someone who understands it and can explain it to you, never ignore it, don't let it take over how you approach PR and very importantly, participate in it. Which is one reason why I blog.
- Was not moving from the centre ground
- Was the candidate of change
- Wants a general election
There was another illuminating moment. This was when he acknowledged that Brown had a list of policies. So Brown is no longer the leader who can't change or is a 'road block to reform'. Cameron's criticism now is that Brown didn't tell the voters how he would make those policies happen. This new approach to Brown, and one that is necessary for the Conservatives, further shows how Brown has torn up their anti-Labour strategy.
Listing policies appears to be the flavour of the week as Hague did the same in his opening speech. Hague told a delighted audience that the policies he listed were dear to the Conservative party and to most of the country. A very honest comment from a politician but one that further underlines the positioning problem the Tories have. Brown has set himself up as a national leader above party politics. It is very hard for an opposition to do the same.
All of this could make for a very interesting week for those who see politics as sport.
Saturday, 29 September 2007
The Conservative party conference and Cameron’s leadership will now be defined against an agenda set by Gordon Brown.
Regardless of political positions, one has to accept that Labour is now playing at the top of its game politically. When Brown set out his stall for the leadership of Labour he pitched liberal prose mixed with Presbyterian morality. By the time he reached
According to a report in the Guardian this strategy was formulated after a series of focus groups were held up and down the country. What is impressive is that it wasn’t just Brown who peppered his speech with the tunes of a concerned middle class, it was the whole Cabinet. This demonstration of being on message far exceeds anything Alistair Campbell could have dreamt of as he trained each day for his run in the
The careful handling of the election narrative by Brown’s advisers has kept the news agenda firmly under the control of Labour.
This last tactic could backfire. There is no constitutional reason for the Government to go to the country. Arguably, there is a case for renewing the political mandate but the election fever that has gripped not only the media but the higher echelons of the Labour leadership means that in the end Brown might not have a choice: he may be forced to go in November. If there is no choice the electorate may feel queasy about the whole thing and Cameron just might get his party’s act together. The problem for Labour is that by the time their strategists see the warning signs their leader will be getting into the PM car and making his way to
When Cameron became leader he claimed Brown was the ‘road block to change’. Apparently, the Conservatives felt Cameron would shine against the dour Brown. Now it seems Cameron has to prove that he can match Brown, not the other way round.
Of course, the polls could be a false dawn for Labour. A lot of the bounce appears to be coming from Lib Dem voters going to Labour. The Tory vote is hovering around 32%. But is that enough to win an election? Probably not but it might be enough to deny Labour a working majority. And in some polls the Lib Dem vote is holding at around 19%. The important point to remember is that in three-party politics national swings don’t count as much as in individual seats. The Lib Dems could deny the Tories and Labour some seats even with a drop in their national vote.
The fact that this blog is largely about Brown illustrates the task Cameron has on his hands. Not only does he have to appease a nervous centre-right party while staying centre or liberal conservative, he now must take back the political and electoral agenda by defining the political zeitgeist. The electoral endgame beckons.
This blog also appears on the CIPR GAG website.
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Reading about political speeches means you are dependent on the subjective view of the journalist, the editorial slant of the paper and the space allocated to the piece by the editorial team. That said it seemed fairly clear that Brown is attempting to place himself above party politics.
This is no easy thing. Churchill did it but then he was leading the country at a time of war and had a Cabinet packed with politicians of every hue. Of course, Brown has made no secret of his admiration for the American political system. His Cabinet of 'all the talents' is not the act of a pluralist rather an act of someone who sees no reason why someone from another political tribe can't serve in Government just as Democrats serve Republican Administrations and vice versa.
This might sound like pluralism but it isn't. Pluralism is where you accept difference and share. Brown has never claimed that mantle.
By standing above the party political ground Brown sets himself as the national leader representing all the people with policies that are not sullied by party. This makes it far harder for Cameron and Campbell to hit their target. And, as everyone has noted, he didn't mention them, their parties or snap elections in his speech.
We won't know how well this strategy will work for sometime yet. Potentially, there are two dangers for Brown.
This act of non party political posturing could be seen as the ultimate political manoeuvring and nothing else.
Then there is cognitive dissonance. Brown told the British public that they had held it together. This contrasts with Cameron's vision of a 'broken society'. If the public hear what Brown says but don't believe it then you have cognitive dissonance: you believe one thing but are told another.
Sunday, 23 September 2007
As far as I know Gordon Brown has never been publicly described as a tease. Dour certainly but the British public must now take on board the idea that Gordon is a bit of a tease.
When elected he made it clear that the Prime Minister would decide when to call the next general election. He then appointed a campaign manager for the Labour party, made sure a draft manifesto was worked on and funds sought. All part of Gordon’s preparation for an October election?
The predictions are that if the Prime Minister wants to go to the country he will call it at the Labour party conference or at the beginning of the Conservative one. He has refused to rule out the idea of October. As one of the most astute politicians of his generation he will be fully aware this will mean the media, and other politicians, continue to speculate.
There is no constitutional reason for Brown to call an election in the autumn. Strategically there might be. If he can win the general election next month he has his own mandate (not a constitutional issue but perhaps a political one), he avoids any further fallout from Northern Rock and any problems the trade unions might create in the winter. On the other hand there he could easily carry on and call an election next year, the year after or the year after that.
Against going to the country commentators say Brown is risk averse and cautious. That is to assume there is more risk going now than waiting.
Of course, and it has been said many times, by keeping the speculation going he unnerves the Conservatives and brings the disgruntled in the Labour party into line.
Whatever happens we now know one thing for sure. Gordon is a bit of a tease.
This blog also appears on the CIPR GAG website