Brown looks to GICS for Whelan’s replacement

A senior press officer from the Treasury is set to replace Charlie Whelan after Chancellor Gordon Brown’s decision to ditch the politically sensitive role of spin doctor. An announcement was imminent as PR Week went to press.

A senior press officer from the Treasury is set to replace Charlie

Whelan after Chancellor Gordon Brown’s decision to ditch the politically

sensitive role of spin doctor. An announcement was imminent as PR Week

went to press.



Sources close to the Chancellor’s office have indicated that the new

press spokesman will come from the ranks of the civil service and will

not be a politically affiliated special adviser like Whelan.



Fiona Hamilton and Helen Etheridge - both senior press officers in the

Treasury - are the two names believed to be in the frame. Both refused

to say anything other than that an announcement would be made soon.



The appointee would work with the Chancellor’s remaining special adviser

Ed Balls but would stick to the more prosaic role of handling media

enquiries rather than rubbishing political opponents.



The move to hire from within the Treasury press office would be seen as

a tacit signal that the Chancellor is keen to mollify both the civil

service and party leaders by installing a career press officer rather

than a flamboyant spin doctor.



’The last thing Gordon wants is for a Whelan Mark II,’ said one

insider.



’He knows the replacement will be under the full scrutiny of the press

so it would be more advisable to hire someone with a lower profile.’



For this reason lobbying consultants who have close links to New Labour

have been ruled out as the person would immediately attract the

unwelcome attention of the press.



A government information officer would be the preferred choice of party

leaders intent on keeping the agenda fixed firmly on policy rather than

personalities.



Appointing a civil servant would also be a morale boost for the

Government Information and Communication Service, which has seen 11 of

its most senior information heads leave their posts since Labour’s

election.



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