A new Tony Blair? Just what we don't need

For many people Tony Blair's third election victory will have been the political event of 2005. But for me the year's most significant moment was the speech I heard in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, a few months later.

David Cameron's performance for the Tory faithful may well be seen in years to come as the day the Tories were reborn. The strange thing is that for those in the conference hall that day, it honestly didn't feel much like it.

Even in the hours after the next Tory leader had sat down, the media room at the back of the stage was not exactly buzzing with excitement.

What happened, as usual, was the press went way over the top in the search for a new story. But the upshot was that, for the first time since Blair was elected Labour leader, the Tories believed they could win again.

If I were advising Cameron, however, I'd be increasingly worried about my man being seen as 'the new Tony Blair'. The old Etonian has not helped himself here by comparing himself with the Labour leader, albeit in jest.

He has also caused himself problems with having a similarly inexperienced media team. His head of press George Eustice is aged 34, while press officer Gabrielle Bertin is just 27. Many of those who worked for Blair in the early days now readily admit that he could have done with a few older, wiser heads.

My guess is the electorate has had enough of 'smooth operators' and wants more substance than style. Cameron will certainly need a more heavyweight image as he comes face to face with Gordon Brown.

Ironically, he is already fighting to distance himself from spin. It doesn't help of course that he once worked in PR for Carlton TV.

Indeed Ian King, The Sun's business editor, recently penned a devastating attack based on his experience of dealing with Cameron at Carlton. He accused him of being a poisonous, slippery and smarmy bully.

Nor does it help that even before the leadership result was announced, some of Cameron's supporters were briefing hacks that David Davis would be demoted in the shadow cabinet. Cameron was actually forced to put out a statement attacking this 'unacceptable backstage briefing'.

I suspect many in the PR industry will want Cameron to succeed as the new Tory leader, even if like me they naturally support Labour. Part of this comes from the fact that he once worked in PR and this is increasingly being used as a reason to discredit him - which I believe is an insult to us all.

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