New British PM could be a former PR man

As the dust settles on a confusing night after the British general election, the only clear result is that nothing is particularly clear.

As the dust settles on a confusing night after the British general election, the only clear result is that nothing is particularly clear.

A “hung parliament” – one where no individual party has overall control – is in prospect, with another election likely before the end of the year.

The election has been a landmark one in British politics, featuring as it did the first ever televised debates between the three main party leaders. These debates raised hopes of a bounce in the fortunes of the country's third party, the Liberal Democrats, whose leader Nick Clegg was generally perceived to have performed best in the debates. But the popularity contest didn't translate into hard votes at the polling stations.

A note of controversy, and an echo of the US election in 2008, was caused by many people's inability to be able to participate in the democratic process, with citizens waiting hours to cast their vote or being shut out when booths closed at 10pm. An era of automated or electronic voting has to be around the corner for elections in major democracies.

However, one interesting angle has emerged: David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, which won most seats last night, used to be an in-house PR adviser to British TV firm Carlton. In the 1990s, Cameron worked in PR for seven years, rising to head of corporate communications.

His presentational skills came to the fore when he burst on the scene at the Conservative Party conference in 2005, sweeping his leadership rival aside with a polished without-notes speech to the assembled Tory faithful.

Cameron's corporate role also gave him some much-needed experience outside the closed world of British politics and an awareness of the outside world. However, he was not a universally popular operator.

Leading British business journalist Jeff Randall described him thus: "In my experience, Cameron never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative, which probably makes him perfectly suited for the role he now seeks: the next Tony Blair.” Another leading newspaper business editor described Cameron as a “poisonous, slippery individual'.

Based on these assessments, clearly Cameron was far better suited to politics than a respected profession such as corporate communications… But nobody can now say the PR profession doesn't have a place at the top table - at least in the corridors of power at Westminster.

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