Brown takes a shine to spin

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPINION - by Paul Francis

I’ve now seen him count­less times on var­i­ous television stu­dio so­fas in a care­fully cho­sen open-necked ca­sual shirt and get­ting on friendly first-name terms with the pre­sen­ters

THE steady stream – well, tor­rent – of pol­icy an­nounce­ments from Gor­don Brown rather give the im­pres­sion that he is fac­ing a more test­ing lead­er­ship con­test than will be the case. From eco-towns to a new con­sti­tu­tion through to help­ing young­sters get their sums right at school and 24-hour doc­tors (some hope), I can’t think of much our new would-be leader hasn’t fizzed with en­thu­si­asm about. Even now, his aides are putting the fin­ish­ing touches to his plans to re­vamp the Euro­vi­sion song con­test, with rules to out­law those sin­is­ter Baltic al­liances and in­tro­duce an au­to­matic al­lo­ca­tion of 200 points to the Bri­tish en­try be­fore judg­ing gets un­der way. Of course there is a point to this fre­netic ac­tiv­ity. Mr Brown wants to be re­garded as a politi­cian in­ter­ested in sub­stance rather than style. As he said: “I have never be­lieved pre­sen­ta­tion should be a sub­sti­tute for pol­icy. I do not be­lieve pol­i­tics is about celebrity.” I don’t doubt he is sin­cere. I’ve now seen him count­less times on var­i­ous television stu­dio so­fas in a care­fully cho­sen open-necked ca­sual shirt and get­ting on friendly first-name terms with the pre­sen­ters to talk about how dread­ful this ob­ses­sion with, er, per­son­al­i­ties is. And there’s the rub. You might as well try putting tooth­paste back in the tube as try to take spin out of pol­i­tics. Even talk­ing about it re­quires a de­gree of spin. When Gor­don launched his cam­paign, he did so with half his face ob­scured by a per­spex screen that was show­ing him where he was in his speech. A lot of peo­ple thought it was a pub­lic re­la­tions dis­as­ter. Then you re­alised he might have done it de­lib­er­ately, to give the im­pres­sion of some­one un­con­cerned about such tri­fling mat­ters as whether we could ac­tu­ally see him. At the week­end, Gor­don Brown came to a com­mu­nity cen­tre in Kent. There was a re­veal­ing mo­ment to­wards the end of his visit. A crowd of ac­tivists and sup­port­ers had been care­fully as­sem­bled in a gar­den to look on in ad­mi­ra­tion as he said a few words. A few mo­ments be­fore he ap­peared, some black clouds gath­ered above. His ad­vis­ers hur­riedly be­gan ush­er­ing peo­ple in­doors. No sooner had they started than the clouds cleared and we were all ush­ered back out into the gar­den. It wouldn’t have looked good for the Chan­cel­lor to visit the Sun­light Cen­tre and be pic­tured in the next day’s news­pa­pers be­ing drenched by a vi­o­lent down­pour. Who said the era of po­lit­i­cal spin was over?

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