Gordon Brown has undoubtedly been an unpopular Prime Minister and it is accepted that a big part of this is due to the fact he can’t get his personality across via the media and/ or because his personality, well, just isn’t very nice. By contrast David Cameron hasn’t really had a chance to become unpopular with anyone other than the Conservative Parliamentary Party (over his handling of the expenses saga) and local Conservative activists (due to his parachuting in of candidates).
What is going on? Despite the Conservatives focusing on the personality of Gordon Brown and comparing it unfavourably with that of David Cameron the polls continue to narrow. Surely they are shooting at an open goal, how can they miss?
The problem for the Conservatives is that David Cameron’s being installed as leader was clearly a delayed reaction to the Tony Blair phenomenon. Delayed mainly because media friendly candidates who wouldn’t split the party down the middle just didn’t exist in the party. So after a succession of leaders who weren’t perceived as performing in front of the media ie Major, Hague, Smith and Howard the Conservatives finally plumped for a media savvy leader. Someone like that thorn in the Conservative side, that Tony Blair. They elected David Cameron.
Unfortunately the recent appearance of Tony Blair at the Chilcot Inquiry has reminded the British Electorate that easy going charm, an ability to be at ease and communicate effectively in front of the camera does not necessarily a good Prime Minister make. In particular the British electorate really does not want another Presidential Prime Minister in the Blair mould. The Blair model for Prime Minister has been kicked into touch and the crowd won’t be throwing the ball back for a long, long time.
So, if there is a politician despised more by the electorate than Gordon Brown then that politician must surely be Tony Blair and some of that “Blair Magic” may just have rubbed off on David Cameron. In contrast “Blair Magic” just can’t stick to Gordon Brown. Brown, if nothing else, is utterly immune and Teflon to “Blair Magic”.
Concentrating on David Cameron’s personality vs. that of Gordon Brown has clearly not worked as well for the Conservatives as they hoped, in fact the signs are that this tack is rebounding on them. David Cameron has the air of a Presidential Prime Minister, although he would deny this it is evident. Evident from his treatment of parliamentary colleagues and local activists, his use of personal attacks and his calls for a Presidential Style TV debate. And that is without mentioning the notorious air brushed poster.
So personality politics and media skills aside how do the respective CV’s of the candidates stack up?
Unlike most job applications the candidates for the job of Prime Minister don’t have to provide CV’s per se however Wikipedia comes to the rescue as something of a CV approximation. (we can rest assured that a multitude of apparatchiks keep these Wikipedia entries accurate).
Academically they are both highly qualified but in terms of experience…
Images used under creative commons licence. Thanks to World Economic Forum. swiss-image.ch/Photo by Remy Steinegger