OPINION: Editorial - Who will carry the flag for Ken?

There are a few jobs that you simply can’t imagine anyone wanting desperately to do - traffic wardens and rail staff during a strike spring to mind. However, the vacant desk waiting to be filled by Ken Livingstone’s press secretary is one of those positions which might be worth agonising over, despite the no-go area it might appears to be at first glance.

There are a few jobs that you simply can’t imagine anyone wanting

desperately to do - traffic wardens and rail staff during a strike

spring to mind. However, the vacant desk waiting to be filled by Ken

Livingstone’s press secretary is one of those positions which might be

worth agonising over, despite the no-go area it might appears to be at

first glance.



Now that Ken has officially strapped his independent gloves on in the

fight for London mayor, he is going to have to start building a solid

campaign team. A parliamentary helper, a secretary, pop stars and a

couple of volunteers clearly aren’t going to be enough to achieve his

victory as the people’s choice, even with a poll currently so heavily

tipped in his favour.



But who on earth would go for such a job? As PR Week went to press, no

one was prepared to put their hand up. New Labour loyalists wouldn’t

touch it with a barge pole, since it’s been made quite clear that the

odds are they would follow Ken’s lead in being expelled by Millbank

Derek Draper is even threatening legal action against Frank Dobson for

suggesting on Question Time last week that he was spinning for Ken. The

private sector may not want the job either, since Ken’s politics are

still too far to the left of the comfort zone.



It’s a very different situation to that facing Dobson who, with Blair’s

supportive hand on his shoulder, has a small army of lobbyists running

around on his behalf. Whatever happens in the long term, they are doing

no harm to their reputations within the Labour machine. A David and

Goliath case, perhaps, but even a personality as strong as Ken’s is

going to find the next two months hard going unless he gets some

heavyweight support.



Yet, despite looking like a post that is firmly out of bounds for anyone

keen on continuing their career in the political arena, leading Ken’s

campaign team does have some very appealing aspects to it. The chances

are, that unless everything goes horribly wrong, Ken’s going to have an

even bigger grin than usual on his face come the morning of 5 May. And

whichever press spokesman helps him to get there is likely to become the

handsomely-paid press secretary to the first directly-elected mayor of

London.



A serious political figure with a serious budget needs a serious PR

operator to manage his reputation. Ken Livingstone is a strong brand,

with a very good chance of success. The question that remains to be

answered is whether the best in the business will be prepared to take

the chance of spinning for the king of the anti-spin doctors.



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