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Is Hillary’s campaign chief right about Brown’s chances?

July 31st, 2009


PR Week

But has Brown got it within him to do what’s required?

This week’s edition of PR Week has an interesting interview with one of the world’s most highly paid political strategists – Mark Penn, global CEO of Burson-Marsteller – in which he holds up some hope for Labour?

He’s quoted as saying: “Voters can and do take a second and even third look at their leaders. Tory leader David Cameron has hit a barrier, and a lot of lapsed Labour voters are undecided – they can’t bring themselves to go back to the Conservatives…‘People are confused after Blair just what Brown stands for in values terms – is he the traditional Labour politician people thought he was..He has to have a programme that shows the best days of being a leader are ahead of him, and define what a fair deal means in this economy and in these changing times.”

Penn might be right about “lapsed Labour voters” but the latest polling where this is measured, Comres, shows that one in six of those who voted for Blair’s Labour in 2005 now say they will support the Conservatives. That’s a fair sized wedge. Labour’s also lost quite a bit of support to other parties some of which might come back.

The scale of Labour’s task is so great and the passing of another month just ratchets up the pressure. Time is running out and I know of no precedent for a government in the mid-20s across all the polls to have been able to pull things back.

Where Penn is right is that Cameron is going to come under increasing levels of scrutiny as we get closer to the day. He just might do something that changes perceptions – but he’s not really tripped up in four years in the job even the odd bit of foul language in a radio interview doesn’t seem to have harmed him.

I find it very difficult to see a Brown-led Labour stopping a Cameron-led Tory party.

Mike Smithson