Media reports this morning say he has made a u-turn about calling a General Election and they are suggesting he is a weak leader because of this.
Actually, as far as I’m aware, Gordon Brown himself has never even hinted there will be an early election. He has not stated publicly that he is even contemplating calling a snap election. I have drawn my own conclusion that the people close to him must have leaked information to the press which in turn led to the media frenzy over the last week or so about an early election.
This is a massive reminder of the ability of the media to whip up an issue and how easily it can get out of control therefore creating a story out of something that may not even be a story. It is surely a wake up call to all politicians.
The criticism I have of Mr Brown in this shambles is that he should have spoken out earlier to prevent unnecessary and damaging publicity for him personally. He could have said two weeks ago he had no intention of calling an election and none of this would have happened. I think that is a tactical mistake on his part. He has now said that, albeit a bit late. I suspect he will regret not speaking out earlier but it is too late and I’m sure he will have learned.
Politics is about scoring points with the voters and the Tories have won this battle there is no doubt. In the short term I think Mr Brown has been damaged.
Time alone will tell whether that damage is just a temporary blip or a lasting wound.
When I was Head of Communications in a National Health Service Organisation I spoke to press reporters almost every day and often many times a day. I always said 'the press is our friend' and I was often criticised by colleague managers in the NHS for saying that.
My rationale was (and still is) that the press have an important and necessary job to do. They will write a story whether we like it or not.
If we don't give the press accurate information – usually called THE TRUTH - we should not be surprised when they speculate. That speculation then develops 'a life of its own' and wrongly becomes the perceived truth .... Even if it is not! They have column inches to fill with words. That is their job. Hope that mini-rant makes sense!
Key Learning Points
*Talk to the Press - they have an important job
*Talk to them early
*Talk to them regularly
*Tell them the truth