Brown takes a shine to spin
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?