The CIPR asked 196 of ‘President’s Panel’, comprised of 200 senior PROs, who is the better communicator: Tony Blair, David Cameron or Gordon Brown.
Prime minister Tony Blair was voted the best communicator with 72 per cent, while Conservative leader David Cameron received 28 per cent of the vote. Brown, chancellor and prime minister in waiting, did not receive a single vote.
A spokesman for Brown told PRWeek: ‘Gordon has made clear he does not regard politics as an exercise in PR, and he is happy to be judged on his actions, his record and his policies for the future, not on empty speeches and PR stunts.’
But one broadsheet chief political commentator said would be wrong to disregard PR entirely. He said: ‘Communications matters – as prime minister you are communicating not just for the party, but for the nation.’
The journalist added: ‘Brown will never have Blair’s natural charm, but he is aware of the problem and is trying to play to other strengths, such as his experience, toughness and credibility.’
CIPR director general Colin Farrington said the results of the poll were in line with Brown’s current role as chancellor, but did not suit an incoming prime minister. He said: ‘A focus on communication skills is essential for a prime minister and leader. Gordon Brown, for all his qualities, cannot afford to ignore this.’
Meanwhile, 77 per cent believed the opposition and the press were ‘fair’ in their assessment that Blair had relied too much on spin.
The survey also revealed the panel’s political sentiments, with 55 per cent choosing David Cameron as the best candidate for prime minister, 41 per cent choosing Brown and 4 per cent plumping for Liberal Democrat leader Ming Campbell.