Saturday, 11 April 2009
McBride is Brown's Man
Damien McBride explains all to the Sunday Papers
Brown can react furiously to unfavourable stories, and negative coverage is rarely forgotten.
He is not the only politician to read his press cuttings through his fingertips, but, like Tony Blair before him, Brown is assembling a team of advisors tasked with ensuring coverage is as positive as possible. Blair is expected to announce the date of his retirement this week. When he leaves, his advisors - including director of communications David Hill and his official spokesman Tom Kelly - will go with him.
But although personnel will change, the strategy will not. 'They want to control the news agenda on an hour-by-hour basis,' says one Brown-watcher. 'I don't think that will change. Brown is even more obsessed with the media than Blair is and he is incredibly thin-skinned'.
Taming the media has always been central to the New Labour project, and there is nothing in Brown's track record, or his personality, to suggest he will adopt a relaxed approach.
Kelly will be replaced by Michael Ellam, a former head of communications at the Treasury who is now Brown's head of policy, according to Westminster sources.
The role has been carried out by a civil servant since Alastair Campbell left it to become Blair's director of communications and strategy, and Brown is unlikely to break with that convention. 'You want civil servants to do all the face-to-face stuff and someone spinning behind the scenes,' says a senior lobby journalist.
Despite rumours that the role could be filled by a former hack, that job will be carried out by Damien McBride, Brown's mercurial spindoctor. Nicknamed 'Damien McPoison' by lobby journalists, he is one of Whitehall's most aggressive operators. Another former communications head at the Treasury and now, technically, a special adviser, McBride adopts an old-school approach to PR, frequently enjoying long, boozy lunches with influential journalists.
'He is very good at what he does, and they know each other well. There will be no learning curve and that's important because Brown will have to hit the ground running,' says one lobby journalist. 'Some people don't rate him but that's because he does a job where he has to duff people up'.
The Guardian/Observer 6th May 2007
If you think Brown knew nothing about this you are living in cloud cuckoo land
Ed Balls, Mandy, Harman all quiet-only the sound of the beating of vultures wings
MCBRIDE RESIGNS RATHER THAN FACE THE FIRE, DRAPER NEXT ?