Gordon Brown et al’s visit to Wales yesterday gave us here at Politics Cymru the opportunity to complete the set - that is Cameron, Clegg and Brown (in that chronological order). Having met the big 3 I thought it a good idea to write a brief comparative note on them.
In all honesty Gordon Brown was the most impressive in person. He came across to the audience as authoritative, hugely intelligent yet personable (when he wasn’t exaggerating the contents of his I-pod). It made me wonder why his communications staff are so insistent on turning him into a clone of Tony Blair? Especially since this particular tactic is failing so miserably (remember that YouTube smile) and being mastered so brilliantly by his opposite number. As Prime Minister what’s wrong with being high brow? What’s wrong with preferring Bach and Beethoven over U2? What’s wrong with being obsessive about facts and figures? Why does a Prime Minister need to be a showman all of a sudden? What’s wrong with being a heavyweight? His current media plan is blatantly not working and looks like sending him and the rest of the Labour party to electoral doom.
I came out of yesterday's Q and A with Brown experiencing a strange sensation - as if I had just seen a dead man walking. I also came out thinking that if his media strategy was different then he wouldn’t be 17 points behind in the polls.
So how does he compare with Cameron? Despite the obvious passion for his brand of conservativism and his mastery of the Tony Blair way of doing things you can’t escape the fact that when DC’s answering a question it feels like he’s trying to sell you something - “and would you like our comprehensive insurance package with that?”. This makes you wonder - does he truly mean what he just said or is he saying it because it’s makes strategic sense to do so? It might just be that age and a few grey hairs make him more convincing in person - his whiter than white polished aura does make you think that he’s been groomed for power.
And Clegg? An affable chap is how one would describe Nick Clegg. Clegg like Brown does seem to have true belief in his message but it’s almost as if he knows that not many other people do. A ruddy nice fellow, but does he share the same aura as the other two? The aura that Prime Ministers have? I’m not sure he does.
All three have their strengths and weaknesses and it might well be that on a different day I would write a totally different article - but those are my genuine thoughts and impressions after meeting all 3.
I would say that a Presidential style debate between the three come election time would be fascinating and I would love them to have the courage to do it, but I doubt their communications teams have the balls.
Keep your thoughts coming in