NEWS: Gummer earns himself the recognition of his peers.

So, it’s Lord Gummer then. It was only a question of time, I suppose, but he deserves full marks anyway.

So, it’s Lord Gummer then. It was only a question of time, I suppose,

but he deserves full marks anyway.

It’s excellent news for the PR business - even prompting the Independent

to conclude that ‘PR people, like it or not, are now significant

players’ - but dismal timing for the Tories. Labour lost no time in

dubbing him ‘Lord of the lies’ because of his involvement in the ‘New

Labour, New Danger’ campaign. It’s all good knockabout stuff, which will

soon blow itself out. But it indicates that Gummer has now been shoved

directly into the political spotlight for the first time.

He’ll cope. Lord G modestly paints himself as the dimmer of the Gummer

brothers but has always appeared the smarter of the two in both

shrewdness and sartorial style. Indeed, it is hard to imagine him doing

anything which has not been meticulously planned.

He has his mild eccentricities: the slippers and cardigan in the office;

the triple-stacked breakfast meetings in the Connaught; and the

preternaturally dapper dress sense. But he has rarely, if ever, put a

foot wrong in his public or private life - astutely investing his time

in precisely the right mixture of business sup-remacy, political work,

and public services.

In PR, his chief achievement has been the creation of the world’s

largest independent consultancy group. In doing so, he almost

singlehandedly proved that PR companies can be run as proper, stable

businesses. During the recession, when Shandwick’s finances looked

shaky, he took the tough decisions necessary to get it back on track.

And even in the headiest of boom times he stuck religiously to the

sector he knew. There were never any madcap schemes for Shandwick to buy

the Midland Bank.

But his success in business tends to overshadow the fact that he’s also

actually been pretty good at PR along the way. And he has always been at

the forefront of debate about evaluation and training, and in driving up


Nowadays he is perennially expected to ease himself out of running

Shandwick. But don’t hold your breath. Not long ago I had a bleary-eyed

(me obviously, not him) breakfast with him. He was even more animated

than usual, glinting with excitement about the changes that the

technological revolution would mean for consumers, the media, and

Shandwick. It was certainly not the attitude of a man who had finished

with the PR business.

I can’t imagine him doing anything remotely so vulgar as using his

peerage as a marketing tool. But amusingly (or was it foresight?), he

named his company after the Scottish town in which he was brought up. So

he could choose to be known simply as Lord Gummer of Shandwick. Very


Sir Bernard Ingham is on holiday

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