Sunday, July 03, 2005


If you want to improve your image, hang on to your job, impress the world that you are a ‘good’ person, get on the stage. Or join a march.

Kofi Annan, who is trying to save his job as UN Secretary General, did it on Saturday — getting in on the act at the Live 8 concert in London’s Hyde Park.
Gordon Brown, Britain’s Finance Minister, says he is going to do it on Wednesday and join the Long Walk to Justice in Edinburgh. So is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England, Cardinal Cormac Murphy- O’Connor.
I can’t really see Gordon Brown doing the whole hike round central Edinburgh along with an expected one million other people. I suspect that he’ll just be there long enough to exploit a good photo opportunity.
After all, he is a busy man and has to get to Gleneagles for the G8 conference later in the day. But doubtless he hopes it will impress the world how much he cares.
As the chasm between politicians and elites and the public grows ever wider, being seen on television to be out there ‘identifying’ with the motley is the best kind of publicity.
But if Brown’s appearance is anything like as staged as his General Election outings with Prime Minister Tony Blair, when they were surrounded by Labour Party supporters posing as ordinary people, it won’t just be his security minders who are all about him. Labour Party members, suitably attired in jeans and baseball caps on back to front, will be recruited to be at his side as extras for the cameras.
But hey, all the world’s a stage, especially if your business is politics.

Sincere as I believe he is about Africa, there is no glory for Brown in his civil servants (his ‘sherpas’) just beavering away quietly behind the scenes to get a better deal for Africa out of his G8 colleagues, especially America.

It is not really enough in spin and publicity terms for him to tell a Press conference or business leaders meeting about his aims and what he is trying to do. Even if he gets more than a sound or video bite, people won’t pay much attention and those who do may dismiss him as just another politician mouthing words and not believe him.
But if Brown of Africa can get out there front of stage on the hoof looking like a modern David Livingstone, the image will register more readily in the public mind. People are more likely to remember it and be convinced he really does care, though he is unlikely to achieve very much.
As with global warming, Britain’s EU rebate and the CAP, the real politick is that no country is willingly going to give up what it has and enjoys today to provide a better tomorrow for another country or continent. It would be political suicide for its leaders and the vested interests always know how to fight to keep what they’ve got.
The global pop concert extravaganza was a fantastic success in both in publicity and the pleasure it gave to millions around the world.
But though it sent a loud, clear message, like Brown of Africa on the march, it was showbiz.
Just as it’s all showbiz now.
Copyright ©Rebecca Hamilton 2005 All Rights Reserved