Alex Massie

Mark Penn is the new Bob Shrum?

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This doesn't seem like a good idea. It's true that a Downing Street spokesflunky dismissed the suggestion that Mark Penn might hop across the Atlantic to work for Gordon Brown as "codswallop" but who would choose to believe what Downing Street says? Here's PR Weekly, reporting that Number 10 is interested in hiring Penn to be Brow's chief pollster. 

With Gordon Brown's leadership rating falling to its lowest level yet this week, senior figures in Number 10 believe that Penn could be Brown's answer to Philip Gould - the polling guru credited with reversing Lab­our's declining fortunes in the 1990s.

Number 10 comms chief Stephen Carter and recen­t­ly recruited director of pol­itical strategy David Muir are und­erstood to have held talks with Penn last week - when Penn was still working as chief strategist for US pre-s­idential candidate Hillary Clinton.

This is probably not a great idea. From the government's point of view that is. Still, this made me chuckle:

The resignation frees him up to work for the Prime Minister. A senior Burson-Marsteller source in regular contact with Penn said there was a high chance that Penn would now work for Brown. ‘It would not surprise me at all,' said the source. ‘He has a tremendous ability to spot trends in public opinion.'

I guess he missed Barack Obama's rise then. At first glance that would seem quite an important trend but that's probably a very shallow interpretation of the headline figures alone.

UPDATE - To the reader at Burson-Marsteller searching for "Mark Penn": feel free to email me or leave a comment...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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