Maximum Impact

It’s been
interesting to observe the way David Cameron and his advisors have been
handling the drugs issue that has brought him to public prominence and
has surrounded him in recent times.

His reluctance to discuss his
private life prior to entering politics has caused a predictable storm
within the media. Also damaging is the rift he has opened with the
Conservative party’s own paper, the Daily Mail, which has been urging
him to answer the allegations.

Yet this whole problem is, of
course, totally of his own creation and to me shows a worrying lack of
judgement on his part and those advising him. A firm yes or no would
have been by far the most effective way of dealing with the matter.

From a PR prospective he has taken a comparatively small issue and turned it into a major drama.

Few
people would have been unduly troubled even if he had admitted the
allegations of taking drugs during his university days a long time ago.

The
real damage is that people increasingly look for their politician to
stand up and be counted and your previous or present private life –
like it or not – speaks volumes to them about the person you really are.

At
a time when image and reality have never been so distant, the way you
handle questions like this can often be far more important than what it
is you are actually being asked to comment on.

His supporters
claim he has weathered the storm very well. This is partly true, but of
course the storm was of his own creation and it won’t go away. How in
future can he press Tony Blair or leading lights in the opposition to
be open, honest and transparent when he has clearly shown himself up to
hide away from revealing the truth when it does not suit him?

Also,
surely he must be aware there are plenty of people out there from his
past who know the answer to this question and who at any time might
decide to contact a generous tabloid editor– with or without my help.

For your sake David, and that of your party which desperately needs a charismatic leader, open up and move on.

This is one of those increasingly rare situations where it’s not all about spin and honesty actually is the best policy.

Talking
of spin, I have taken on a new client this week who has amazing ability
in this area. Welcome to Max Clifford Associates Shane.

The fee for this column is donated to the Chase (Christopher’s) Children’s Hospice, Surrey.

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