OPINION: Brown scores media victory over Prime Minister

Creating a positive news story has always been easier than stopping a negative one, but I can't remember a week when this has been so clearly demonstrated.

I'm referring, of course, to Prince Charles's bungled attempt to prevent the media reporting fanciful stories about his sex life and Gordon Brown's successful public attacks on the Prime Minister.

How much poor old Charlie is missing his ex-spin doctor Mark Bolland.

'Is Prince Charles bisexual?' is hardly the sort of headline the Prince would have got from the News of the World when Bolland was in charge.

The only good PR the Royals have had this week has been Sophie, giving birth in an NHS hospital, and even that was by accident. When I bumped into Bolland at the Mirror's 100th anniversary party last week he seemed to be in a very happy mood indeed, and who could blame him.

Even happier was my old chum the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Having waited until Tony Blair was gone, he marched in grinning like a Cheshire cat, showing any celeb who was interested a crumpled photo of his own new born, John. I last saw him flirting with Fiona Phillips from GMTV, and then with her again live on GMTV, slagging off the PM.

Brown then toured the rest of the TV and radio studios with the same message. All this, remember, was on top of his savage attack on Blair's Europe policy in, of all places, The Daily Telegraph. The Iron Chancellor's salvos following his paternity were, of course, carefully planned by his media minders. The pictures of Brown and his wife Sarah leaving hospital with their new son meant that public sympathy would start on his side.

But Brown wasn't really only looking for that. What he wanted to do was to make it absolutely clear that he is the one to replace Blair when the PM decides to pack it in. Making Blair look petty over his decision not to put Brown on Labour's ruling body was just an added bonus.

No one else in Government would have got away with what Brown did without being sacked. The fact that Blair was forced to sue for peace showed just how powerful Brown really is. Blair was forced to admit that he can't survive without his Chancellor.

The reason for Brown's triumph over Blair can be read in the editorials of the newspapers that matter most to New Labour. First was the Daily Mirror, which came out in support of Brown. This was important because it is the most pro-Europe paper and could have been expected to attack the Chancellor. The Daily Mail naturally supported Brown.

But what of Blair's biggest supporters at The Sun? For the first time in years, even I got a call from the paper's political editor. I can't claim any credit for it, but they came down in support of Brown, which must have been a body blow for Blair. All he could muster was the support of The Guardian, a paper the Prime Minister openly calls 'lefty bollocks.' The decision of the paper read by most Labour Party members was to attack Brown for not giving the Prime Minister the support he deserves.

All this shows is just how out of touch this paper can be with its readers.

I don't want to be rude about The Guardian's political coverage, but I will. The day after the paper exclusively revealed that Blair had indeed snubbed Brown over the NEC place, its analysis the next day never once mentioned Peter Mandelson, the one person blamed by Brown and his supporters for the fall- out with Blair. Mandelson, it seems, still has friends in high places - including at The Guardian. Brown, of course, won't give a toss what The Guardian says any more than Blair does.

What Brown did last week was show Blair and the country that fatherhood hasn't dented his ambitions, and his clever use of the media certainly helped him achieve it.

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