OPINION: 'Get Brown' campaign gathers strength

Every week seems to be worse than the last for the Government just now, but it is how Gordon Brown and his Chancellor cope with the economic slowdown that really matters, not the fantasy reporting from some areas of the media.

Charlie Whelan
Charlie Whelan

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by a Scottish journalist about a series I had recently recorded for the BBC on salmon fishing. In the interview I said I had met most of the cabinet in the past month and what struck me was just how united they were. This week I was phoned by the same journalist asking if I wanted to change my story. Why? I asked. 'Because of all the stories about cabinet members fighting and plotting their leadership bids.'

I found it incredible that another hack could believe all this rubbish but seemingly some people still do believe everything they read in the papers.

Now I know that the Downing Street media team find what is happening in the press at the moment very irritating, particularly as it takes up so much of their time, but they simply have to do what their boss says and focus their energies on the real issues.

The electorate will ultimately judge the PM on how he copes with the current financial difficulties and then ask whether it is Brown or Cameron who is best placed to run the country.

Don't panic; hold your nerve; and keep attacking the Tories has to be the Downing Street strategy.

Already we have seen the Tories become overexcited by the difficulties of the PM and in their excitement pledge £7bn of spending commitments without even realising it. Most of the media are willing to ignore such major gaffes just now as they focus on their 'get Brown' campaign, but Cameron would be a fool to rely on a compliant media.

I was at the national press awards last week where the Tory leader was the guest speaker. Here he had a chance to convince the assembled fourth estate that he was a prime minister in waiting. This he singularly failed to do with a lacklustre speech that failed to impress anyone, especially those on my table, who even joined in with a bit of booing - nothing to do with me of course.

As Brown and his team jet off to the US this week he will be hoping that the media focus on him as an international statesman. At least he knows that they will be focused on the US presidential candidates because he has wisely agreed to meet them all.

Mixing with Obama, Clinton and McCain will be better than spending another week answering banal questions from the lobby.

Email: charlie.whelan@haymarket.com

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