Friday Drop: Bad week for John Prescott

Bullies are cowards. But there is certainly no evidence from the majestically-quiffed author of 'The End of the Party' Andrew Rawnsley to suggest that Gordon Brown suffers bouts of crippling cowardice, no none at all.

Prescott: No bullying here
Prescott: No bullying here

That's right, it's the tabloid sub-editor's dream story. ‘Monster Raving Gloomy Party' sniggered The Sun. Lurid revelations concerning the PM's advisor-handling techniques came to the fore this week. Labour's response? Wheel out their most softly spoken, passive joker in their pack. ‘Get me John Prescott' was the cry from Millbank. Prezza took to the airwaves in defence of GB and appeared in a tete a tete with Rawnsley in a riotous exchange on Newsnight.

Rather than offer calm assurances, the Prestatyn bruiser was positively Vesuvius like in his response. He accused Rawnsley of using the whole affair to sell books. Job done there then. With a further volley of verbal punches, the shy, retiring former DPM proceeded to rubbish the allegations in the book, putting the boot it on Rawnsley's supposed '24 carat' sources.

As the lava bubbled ever closer to the surface, Prescott looked close to combusting as he warmed to the task of bullying on the subject of bullying.  The normally erudite Prescott signed off with phrase that summed up the whole passage. ‘That's not journalism, that's gutter journimalism'.

Key Lessons:

Be clear on the facts; changing your story will damage your own credibility

If you breach confidentiality, you must be prepared for the reputational consequences

 

Good week for Centrica CEO Sam Laidlaw

It's been a long cold winter, but things have been heating up on the finance front over at energy kingpin Centrica.  Its division British Gas this week posted record profits of over £500 million for 2009, but with consumer groups grizzling about inflated prices this could have been a tricky week for Centrica honcho Sam Laidlaw. Despite the fine showing with the gas business, Centrica's overall profits fell modestly, meaning he would have to defend business performance as well. Choppy waters indeed.

BBC Breakfast has been the pastel shaded, sofa-clad graveyard of many a senior executive, but Laidlaw expertly skirted around the Grim Reaper, played by a frothing Simon Jack. ‘You're essentially profiteering , how do you answer that?', barked a clearly irked Jack. Laidlaw - from the safety of his London Stock Exchange Eyre - calmly referred to ‘the facts', which we all know can't be spun.

But that's not the point, his assuredness was obvious in contrast to the staccato style of Jack, carefully pointing out that British Gas profits are in fact necessary so they can be reinvested. Jack thought he'd play an Ace by lobbing in a couple of impossible to prep for viewer text messages, but these were swatted straight over the televisual boundary rope. A fine innings on a potentially sticky wicket, accentuating the positives to customers and never rising to the bait, saw this executive emerged with the heat turned down.

Key Lessons:

You can use the facts to your advantage

Remaining calm and considered can put your interviewer on the back foot

 

 

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