Editors back Brown's plan to revamp comms

Political editors have backed moves by Gordon Brown to overhaul strategic comms at Number 10.

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown

PRWeek spoke to leading lobby journalists as it emer­ged that former ITV head of news Clive Jones and Pearson group director of comms Luke Swanson have been approached by Stephen Carter, the PM's new chief of strategy.

The pair have been asked to advise on developing a long-term media strategy and co-ordinating government media activity. Day-to-day media relations will continue to be overseen by Brown's special adviser on press issues Damian McBride and his official spokesman Mike Ellam - both former Treasury officials.

The Times political editor Philip Webster said: ‘Brown is acknowledging that his
belief that he could run the operation by bringing with him former stalwarts from the Treasury was a mistake.'

Daily Mirror associate edi­tor (politics) Kevin Mag­uire agreed that Brown needed to place a greater emphasis on developing a long-term vision. He added that better media co-ordi­nation could help to avoid ‘cock-ups' - such as the recent episode when housing minister Caroline Flint outlined controversial plans for dealing with jobless council tenants without the backing of Number 10.

Former Sunday Times pol­itical editor and recently-ins­talled chairman of FD-LLM David Cracknell also bel­ieved that the move made sense.

‘Brown's team is strong in terms of day-to-day media and lobby relations,' he said. ‘Where they are not so good, and fall short of the Tories, is having that long-term plan for two or three months ahead about what issues to concentrate on, how to construct and del­iver a narrative, and what stories to use to illustrate it.'

Downing Street has yet to confirm the appointments. It is understood that ITV vete­ran Jones will take the post of director of operations, handling the co-ordination of government media activity.Swanson will work on long-term media strategy.

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