How can Labour get him to loosen up a bit?
The scene should be a happy one for the man most likely to be the next Labour leader. He’s there amongst enthusiastic supporters who are pleased to see him yet he stiffens up and appears aloof apparently unwilling or unable to engage with those around him.
If he is like this amongst committed Labour supporters how is he going to be with the less committed – the groups Labour needs to keep on board if it wants to stave off the Cameron Tory threat?
For come the intensity of the General Election campaign how is Gordon, a very private man, going to come over when his every move will be followed, filmed and photographed?
I’ve made this point before but while in this multimedia multi channel age there is much more news available the proportion of people watching regular TV bulletins or reading daily newspapers is on the decline.
In the days when most people had just four TV channels it was hard to avoid the General Election completely. Next time it will be dead simple. The result is that the opportunities to reach the marginal voter are much more limited.
Can Gordon be made fit for purpose? Is it possible to transform his current image into something that is instantly appealing to the large number of voters who catch no more than fleeting glances of TV bulletins or newspaper front pages?
The polling evidence about the way Gordon is perceived does not look promising. The last Guardian ICM survey compared him with Cameron on a number of attributes with the Tory leader beating him 52-17 on having a “pleasant personality“; but Brown scoring 36-15 on being the most arrogant, and 35-12 on being “most likely to stab a colleague in the back“. On the positive side he does come over as strong and likely to be good in a crisis.
An issue, of course, will be whether he’ll be perceived differently as Prime Minister. That is a hard one to call but there is likely to be an initial beneficial effect. The question is whether it will continue?
In the betting on which party will win most seats at the General Election Labour is now out to 1.38/1 on the Betfair exchange. The punters don’t believe he’s going to do it.