Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stalking horses vie for airtime?

Does this look like the next Prime Minister, or even leader of the Labour Party? Well it is a question and raised in response to the article on the front page of PR Week from May 23rd. According to research commissioned for the magazine both David Miliband and Ed Balls have increased their television appearances (Miliband had 19 6-20 May; Balls 13 in same period) and, according to a Downing Street source the appearance on Newsnight "seemed like a leader in waiting speech". The claim made is that Miliband and Balls, as well as James Purnell and Jon Cruddas are all increasing their airtime, so their name and face recognition, to position themselves as viable candidates if and when Brown steps down. Despite protestations over the weekend from Miliband that he was not at the head of a possible coup d'etat, it is likely that there is a strategy to ensure there are strong contenders among the front bench. However, the point that PR Week may be missing is that this is also a useful strategy for a Prime Minister whop is failing to engage the public personally. If he can rebuild his image for quietly managing, but have Blair-esque figures around him that look better in front of a camera, perhaps this creates more of a dream team. So maybe this is Miliband/Balls thinking about playing Brutus, or maybe it is Downing Street trying to find the more acceptable face of the party in a time of desperation.

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