Nick Clegg's 'TV comms strategy' attacked by public affairs professionals

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has used another TV interview to challenge the views of Prime Minister David Cameron and spark media reports of 'damaging rifts'.

Nick Clegg: challenges David Cameron's views
Nick Clegg: challenges David Cameron's views

Clegg latest TV spot saw him ridicule Cameron’s support for marriage tax breaks as throwback to the 1950s on Sky News and he will attack the policy in a speech to the Demos think-tank today.

He is expected to say: ‘We should not take a particular version of the family institution, such as the 1950s model of suit-wearing, bread-winning dad and aproned, home-making mother - and try and preserve it in aspic.

‘Conservatives, by definition, tend to defend the status quo, embracing change reluctantly and often after the event.’

Clegg’s outspoken stance comes a week after his TV U-turn last weekend over Cameron’s EU veto, a stance the Deputy Prime Minister initially supported.

PR professionals said that Clegg's approach to Sunday TV interviews amounts to a comms strategy, but one that should not worry Cameron.

Jo-ann Robertson, MD of public affairs and corporate comms at Ketchum Pleon, said: ‘The timing of the outbursts may be achieving media coverage, but they’re not gaining any cut-through with either the Liberal grassroots or the wider public. Where Clegg loses all credibility is when these outbursts never materialise as anything more than words

‘Going in to 2012 Cameron has by far the most political momentum of all the three leaders, so I don’t think that he will be overly concerned with Clegg’s comms strategy.’

TLG media relations director Jonathan Oliver thinks Clegg’s comms strategy is risky: ‘Clegg is in danger of sounding shrill and lightweight, repelling rather than wooing swing voters.’

Nick Williams, head of public affairs at Fleishman-Hillard, made a prediction of where the coalition will be towards the end of 2012 and beyond: ‘Come the end of 2012, the coalition will be in exactly the same shape as it is now: bound together by the necessity of the markets and for the Lib Dem’s the possibility of electoral destruction.

‘The real deadline is 2014 when Clegg’s plan will be to extract as much as he can before he gets out of a formal coalition. This will most likely happen in the second half of 2014, in advance of a May 2015 election.’

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