How will the contestants cope with the media scrutiny?
If Alan Johnson had just been an ordinary cabinet minister then today’s row over the alleged attempt to “bury” poor school results would probably have gone unnoticed. For this is what minsters do all the time. If there’s some news that has to be made public that might be embarrassing then you announce something positive at the same time in the hope that good will bury the bad.
But as of the past week or so Alan Johnson has been no ordinary cabinet minster. The repeated suggestions that he might make a leadership challenge, the Sunday newspaper profiles, and being second favourite in the betting mean that until this is all resolved the Education Secretary’s life is going to be a bit tougher. He’s not going to be able to get away as easily with the management of bad news announcements.
For everything that he does is and has done in his life going to be judged in terms of his possible leadership bid. Is there a chink in his “nice guy armour”?
Very soon now if its not happening already the Michael Cricks of this world will start examining Johnson and begin crawling over the life of a man who is said to be aspiring to be the next resident of number 10. It happened to David Cameron and it happened, even to Chris (remember him) Huhne.
No doubt the investigation will be assisted by “helpful” spin merchants at the Treasury anxious to protect their man’s position. Is there “dirt” that they’ve got on Johnson that they can help get made public?
But Brown’s team, which has a formidable reputation for seeking to destroy the reputations of prospective challengers, has got to be very careful. The last thing they want at this tricky time is to be accused of smear-mongering.
Brown himself will not be immune from this process which will continue until the contest is over. It’s tough being a politician who is aspiring to high office.
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