"David Cameron is apparently on the hunt for a £140K media strategist for the Tories." That nugget is taken from an article on The First Post about Gordon Brown’s alleged need for an Alastair Campbell-figure. On David Cameron’s first anniversary as leader ConservativeHome did recommend that the press operation be strengthened. A number of individuals have apparently been approached including a senior figure at The Independent although CCHQ’s preference is for someone with broadcast standing who will support one of Project Cameron’s primary aims – the wooing of the BBC.
There will be a number of issues in the new media strategist’s in-tray. Here are two:
- First would be the need for a little more courtesy towards the newspapers. The newspapers are jealous of the attention that Team Cameron gives to the broadcasters but there are other niggles. There was some annoyance at The Times last week, for example, after CCHQ had been contacted for a quote on their Brown-pensions-story. After providing a quote CCHQ started to tell other media operations about the story; spoiling The Times’ exclusivity. Yesterday’s Business scoop on the poor getting poorer was soon followed by a CCHQ press release but the press release failed to credit The Business with the research. Neither of these are massive faults but they can hurt important relationships.
- The second task will be handling what could be called ‘the coming storm’. Brownites are determined to launch strong attacks on Cameron from the autumn. Brownites have long been frustrated at what they see as the Blairites’ kid-gloves approach to Cameron. They want something much harder. The Brownites will probably use surrogates but expect a lot of attacks on Cameron as a hypocrite for his use of domestic air travel. Kevin Maguire’s blog and articles (here, here and here) can give you a taste of what to expect.
More experienced press officers – who are trusted by their shadow ministers and therefore able to speak immediately on their behalf – will
be another important improvement.