LEADER: Political comms has moved beyond ‘spin’

By now we all know that talk of Gordon Brown distancing himself from the age of spin is, well, spin really...

What Brown has proven himself to be – particularly over the past two weeks – is a hardened strategic communicator.

He has learned from a decade under Blair and is publicly throwing out the muddied bathwater, but most definitely not the (rather clever) baby.

Whatever you think of the Prime Minister’s personal image and communication skills, one can’t help but admire his recent comms strategy.

A striking example is the pressure he is placing on the Conservative Party. Not so long ago the revived Tories were making headway in the polls, with a series of statements that exposed genuine public concern about Government policy. But now one sees David Cameron’s room for manoeuvre severely squeezed, which could explain the recent lacklustre initiatives on grammar schools and marriage morality.

This writer was surprised to hear Cameron admit, on BBC’s Sunday AM this week, that ‘economic stability was no longer the issue’. Surely an admission of defeat by what was once the natural party of business.

Indeed, the Brown team’s early strategy towards big business is a major case in point. The appointment of former CBI director-general Sir Digby Jones as a minister was a masterstroke in outflanking the Tories.

Even more startling was to hear Martin Broughton, the CBI president, this week asking whether Cameron was more than an ‘opportunistic chameleon’. This, remember, is the man who for years ran one of the world’s biggest tobacco companies. Brown has used his ‘big tent’ to build an unlikely, and increasingly formidable, alliance against the Conservatives.

Above all, it shows us that it is no longer helpful to talk about ‘government spin’. The world has moved on: something writ large by the Campbell diaries this week.

Strategic communication is now woven in the higher echelons of politics and business, so the critics might as well get used to it.


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