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The above is John McCain’s new advert mocking the current media love in with Obama. I can’t begin to tell say how stupid it is. All it will serve to do is to remind people that Obama is popular. Worse, it reminds me of Kenneth Williams as Julius Ceasar – “Infamy Infamy, they’ve all got it in for me.”

It’s a shrill complaint that boils down to the fact that nobody is that interested in John McCain. What he was thinking i really don’t know. Can anyone enlighten me?

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I’m on my way down to London and have just seen here on Iain Dale’s blog, and here, confirmed by the telegraph, that David Davis will be stepping down from the shadow cabinet, resigning as an MP and triggering a by-election in his constituency.

According to the telegraph, Davis will then stand as a Conservative candidate, but on a platform based on his opposition to the 42 day detention limit.

The telegraph is billiing it as a disaster for Cameron. I disagree. Cameron’s biggest flaw (electorally speaking) is his lack of appeal “up north” people up here think he’s a bit of a slick southerner and  seem to have a soft spot for Davis’ hard man persona. Imagine the effect of Cameron whole heartedly supporting his home secretary’s principled stand?

What if the CCHQ line reads something like: “There aren’t enough men of priciple in politics today. David Davis is an examplary public servant and doesn’t feel he can carry on as an MP unless he has his constituents backing to cotinue to oppose this disatrous policy. He has our whole hearted support.”

Then, Cameron gets on a bus and spends three weeks in Hull working his magic. Davis gets re-elected with a hugely increased majority and the labour vote collapses. All of a sudden the DD “is principled” poll question starts to rub off on Cameron and labour’s last line of attack is shut off.

OK, there are alot of “what ifs” there but challenge or opportunity, this is certainly Cameron’s biggest judgement call to date. Interesting times…

Just a very quick rant, and before I start I should just say this – I really like Politics Home. It is one of my two homepages (along with igoogle) and an absolutely brilliant resource for the political junkie.

But.

Their PHI 100 coverage really annoys me. It is obviously a very authoritative group of individuals so why on earth does the website have to continually big up the panel, and why when ever they get anything right, do they have to tell us over and over again?

Take today – Andrew Rawnsley writes “Before the by-election, the PHI100 confirmed its reputation for accurate prediction of votes and events by giving a very strong forecast that the Conservatives would win it.” 

Well firstly their “accurate prediction” of the C & N by election could be called into question when an earlier question about benchmarking the results seemed to suggest that the overwhelming majority of the panel thought a win with a mojority of less than 4000 would be the most likely result.

Secondly, it wasn’t exaclty rocket science to work out that the Conservatives were going to win, at the time of their prediction betfair was offering odds of 1.04 on a Conservative victory, and bookmaker Paddy Power paid out on wednesday night for the simple victor market.

Rant over. Politics home is great – please stop telling us how good it is.

Listening to Alan Johnson’s interview on Today this morning it struck me that we might be seeing the first incling of a strategy by Gordon Brown to get out of the mess he’s in.

If I’m right, then of particular importance was the bit when Johnson said something along the lines of: 

“Am I the leader of any particular Gordon Brown fanclub, No, but I have worked with him for 9 years and I’ve never” Blah blah blah… “but he’s a good honest and able politician.”

Translation: “look, you may not like Gordon but times are hard and he’s a safe competent pair of hands.”

It’s certainly the strategy I would go for if I was in the unenviable position of Gordon’s comms chief. Gordon Brown is not likeable, and ever since his move to number 10, his comms effort has gone into trying to change that perception. By any possible measure that effort has failed, but, and it’s a big but, if he can portray himself as the safe option, given the current climate he doesn’t need people to like him.

People are always worried by big picture problems, and that worry influences their vote, but right now they aren’t scared about abstract ideas, they are scared about very specific, very immediate problems – how much is my house worth? can I afford my mortgage if interest rates go up?

In these circumstances, if Gordon can succesfully blame the Americans for the property problems and portray the Tories as a risky choice then like him or not, its my guess that people would vote for him.

Granted, there are alot of ifs in this but, and here’s the final if of the day, if I’m right, you’ll see alot more ministers admitting that they may not be Gordo’s number one fan but…

(well if that title doesn’t generate some google juice…)

OK, so I haven’t posted in a while (why does saying that feel like I’m an American Politician admitting that he hasn’t been to church in a while?) but, as I’m on a train, and one made infinitely more tolerable due to my wife’s inspired packing of a cold Stella, I thought I’d use the time and free wifi put down some thoughts that have been buzzing round my head of late.

I like Boris. Not just because he’s Tory, there are plenty of Tories I loathe, but because I agree with the CIPR in thinking that he is not only a nice guy but a great communicator. I realise that this might be a dangerous comment for me to make right now (for reasons some will know and others will not,) but I do. Not only do I like him, but I think he’s going to win, in fact, I think he’s going to win because I like him, (well, more accurately because people like him.)

Somehow despite slagging off the scousers for wallowing in self pity and writing off large chunks of the South coast he is beating Ken “London” Livingstone, and not just, as many thought would be the case, amongst those frivolous, “vote for Boris, it’d be a laugh” voters. In fact, poll after poll, his lead is largest amongst those absolutely 10 out of 10 certain to vote. Somehow,  despite all the chat show jokes, people think he’s serious and despite more than one ill thought out comments on race, people (including me,) believe him when he says he loathes racism. If that isn’t evidence of great communication, I don’t know what is, – and it is because of this that Ken’s election strategy is fatally flawed.

Boris’s biggest stength is also his biggest weakness and Ken has fundamentally failed to appreciate this. He has Santos problem, to mis-quote from the West Wing “people want to go for a beer with him, they just don’t want to vote for him for president.” Ken’s increasingly desperate, increasingly personal attacks play to Boris’ strengths and actively encourage people to ignore his weaknesses, of which there are many.

For the other side of the argument see this post by Stuart Bruce, but when you read it remember that only 10% of communication is verbal, I reckon Boris has it 90% right.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been appearing on an ITV regional show called Last Orders. It’s a political chat show which juxtaposes studio interviews with Politicians with comment from normal people (I’m one of the normal people.)

Anyway, last night the programme aired with David Davis, Ed Milliband and Nick Clegg being interviewed in the studio and after a segment in which I had described Nick Clegg as perfectly OK but nothing particularly special, David Davis seemed to echo my comment and say something that sounded allot like “as my son said.” Nick Clegg then said “is that your son?”

Can I just take this opportunity to answer his question? Whilst I have a great deal of time for David Davis, I think he’s one of the party’s stronger figures and a real asset, but, and I want to be very clear about this, he’s not my dad.

 

 

If anyone needed an example of quite how drastically PR has changed since web 2.0 got its teeth into it, this weekend has provided plenty.

Screw print deadlines, gone are the days when you could prevaricate your way out of a news cycle. Danny Finklestein and Con Home were broadcasting the news of the election that wasn’t over their RSS feeds hours before any TV had wised up to the story, and whilst one campaign may have come to an end, another managed to continue, just. Lewis Hamilton may have been let off but his story just goes to show that you can no longer manage TV cameras.

In a nutshell the problem is this, when the mechanisms of content delivery were few and linear, they could be managed. Now they are many and networked and they can’t. Those who succeed will be those who recognise that message management never really made it out of the 20th century. I don’t know what the next step for PR is, there is allot of talk about engagement and it all sounds good but, to be honest, I don’t know what real corporate engagement looks like. For the moment I’m happy if clients can stick to a very simple formula.

1. Consider PR before a decision is made, PR applied after a decision is spin.

2. Be open and honest. You can’t hide anything if the guy next door to you with a mobile phone  is every bit as able to publish a story as a BBC news crew.

3. Try to understand the power of content. The ubiquity of search based as opposed to channel based provision means that the internet rewards excellence in a way that traditional media never has and never will.

 

 

 

Just watched David Cameron’s speech to conference and already a quick scan of a few blogs reveals that some people are beginning to focus on the “traditional tory – Europe and immigration” aspects of it. Can I just point out that in a speech that was well over an hour long, (closer to an hour and a half?) and had around 70 applause breaks in it, immigration made up 1 minute.

Earlier this month, I thought David Cameron might be losing the plot. I was wrong, he wasn’t. Along with every other tory I’ve spoken to since, I’m fired up and off leafletting tonight.

  

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Boris will be standing for London Mayor. I’ll update this after his campaign launch at 2pm today.

*Update*

The official press release is now live on his website

“Press Release: 16 July 2007

I am happy to confirm that I have today put my name forward to be the Conservative Candidate for London Mayor.

I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received from so many people across London. I intend to remain an MP and will continue to represent the people of Henley, as I have done since 2001. I have, however, resigned from the frontbench as Shadow Minister for Higher Education with immediate effect.

London is an outstandingly varied and beautiful place and it deserves a proper debate. I want to bring fresh ideas to the Capital and offer a new direction for Londoners. I believe that the Mayor of London should keep things simple and direct his or her intellectual energy at the core problems that affect people’s everyday lives. I look forward to announcing my detailed proposals later in the summer, should I be fortunate enough to be shortlisted by the Conservative Party.

Even the greatest cities have further greatness in them. I will stand for a greater London and for putting the smile back on London’s face.”

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Turns out the BBC are also running the story here. I have also started a facebook group in the hope that a spontaneous outpouring of support might persuade Boris to run. Join here (Login Required).

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