Brown bolsters team as he eyes Number 10

Gordon Brown has enlisted his former civil service press officer to run the Treasury's ministerial events unit.

Helen Etheridge’s move is a sign that the Chancellor is gearing up for Number 10 and getting in place his top team of press advisers.

Etheridge, a ‘grade seven’ information officer, worked in Brown’s inner circle for eight years before leaving two years ago to spend time away from Whitehall.

With the Chancellor predicted to be taking residence at Number 10 later this year, he is moving quickly to assemble a trusted team.

Etheridge will work with acting head of events, Balshen Izzet, and report to Treasury head of communications Chris Martin – both of whom are currently with the Chancellor and press secretary Damian McBride in India.

Etheridge returned to the civil service last year and was immediately handed the politically poisoned chalice of working for deputy PM John Prescott.

She dealt with the media frenzy following Prescott’s affair with secretary Tracey Temple, and handled the fallout from Prescott’s dealings with American billionaire Philip Anschutz.

SEPERATELY... Etheridge’s appointment comes as an opinion poll commissioned by PRWeek reveals Brown has got his work cut out to convince voters he has the personality required for Number 10.

Two thirds of people (67 per cent) agreed Brown ‘does not have the necessary charisma to be a good PM’.

Worryingly for Brown’s team, when Opinion Matters put the question to self-confessed Labour voters last week, 61 per cent agreed that Brown appeared to lack the magnetism expected of a UK leader.

However, lobbyists told PRWeek that signs had appeared of a planned Brown charm offensive.

‘Recently we have seen Brown talking about his views rather than Treasury views,’ said Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chairman Peter Bingle.

‘The media are giving the Chancellor a chance to show a more human side.’

 

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