Public affairs experts divided on Tony Blair's EU Presidency bid

PR professionals have sought to explain what went wrong with Tony Blair's covert bid for the EU Presidency, as a new poll finds support for the former prime minister taking up the post is on the wane.

EU Presidency bid: Tony Blair

Newspapers today have reported that Blair's chances of becoming Europe's first full-time president are in serious trouble.

Fleishman-Hillard head of public affairs Nick Williams said that any high profile candidate faced the risk of being rejected. ‘There was always a chance that a lower profile candidate who had never upset anyone would come through the middle.'

But Williams also suggested Gordon Brown could have done more, after the Prime Minister yesterday threw his weight behind Blair's campaign at a press conference in Brussels.

‘Gordon Brown has opted for the traditional Brown communications strategy of waiting until the very last minute to support the Blair Presidency and then to support it through gritted teeth. Blair must be wondering whether Brown's endorsement was the start of the end,' said Williams.

However, Weber Shandwick chairman of corporate comms and public affairs Jon McLeod has defended Brown and said: ‘Brown can't win because he is accused of playing politics if he backs an old ally, while not voicing support seems divisive.'

He also added: ‘Europe is conflicted over Blair because he is clearly a leader of true international stature, yet in the European context, for a UK figure to lead the Union is a proposition clearly fraught with conflict. Blair's has been a 'silent campaign' and as such reflects a strong capacity to control the international media and political environment.

A new poll of 1,342 UK adults released by PoliticsHome today has found that opposition to Blair has risen by eight per cent over the summer. Over half of those polled would prefer to see a foreign candidate take up the role rather than the former prime minister.






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