It has just been reported that both Cameron and Brown are hiring consultants who helped Obama to help them as they face the TV debates, potentially more vital as the gap narrows. Help!
Their ‘joint’ decisions influenced presumably by the fact that America has done more of it for longer and by the power of ‘brand’ Obama. But are they both right?
Taking Obama first. His truly great performances have been as orator, calling for very different skills to those of the live debate. No one is challenging, the audience is ‘out there’ ready to be captivated by virtuoso performance, two teleprompters his best friends.
Incidentally, Cameron’s own best so far performance was his famous, leadership winning, ‘no notes’ speech at Blackpool. But the debate calls for something different and although Obama won his against McCain, the competition was not up to much. Since then his more intimate television interviews have not impressed.
America and Britain being divided by a common language is another reason to treat with caution the Obama victory-claiming consultants. And we still do not know the format for the debates as all sides seek to negotiate the least risky formula.
Given these caveats what should our three reality show contestants be seeking from their learned consultants? Basically, how to be both relaxed and confident enough to be themselves, allowing us the viewers to feel we have met them.
This may well be easier for Nick Clegg. He needs to inject an element of surprise but he comes across naturally and more conversationally than his rivals.
For David Cameron it has become more difficult as his constant exposure has left the impression of someone whose only communication mode is one of ‘finger wagging’ over-emphasis, where charm and the art of conversation come second.
Gordon Brown has survived the bullying barrage and if anything the polls suggest he has benefitted, perhaps because of a glimpse of the real person, however many warts. As ever when he is bad, he is very very bad, but when he is good then the others should look out.
Perhaps he would do better with Piers Morgan as his consultant.