Listening to Gordon Brown speak in Bristol this week, it was easy to forget how heavily the burden of Prime Ministerial office appeared to weigh on him in 2010.
The former PM was here promoting his new book to a packed Wills Memorial Hall and spoke with conviction and humour about his life in politics.
He was also candid about the challenges faced by the global economy over the last decade, his role in addressing the crisis and the friction caused by the resulting fallout.
Here was a man at ease with himself, speaking about life with his kids, encounters with Nelson Mandela and even quoting Taylor Swift lyrics.
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Reaction to the elected mayor vote in Bristol – various
Well done Bristol for bucking the national trend and voting decisively, if in small numbers, in favour of an elected mayor to lead the city from November. They were the only city to vote yes to the proposal following a pretty low-key campaign on the issue. The Centre for Cities has published some links on the issue, while the Bristol Post’s coverage of the result and early indication of who the runners and riders for Bristol’s first elected mayor has been well-informed, detailed and sharp, as good local journalism should be. Whether the result was an endorsement of the proposal or due to more negative factors is open to question, which The Guardian poses in its leader on the issue today. Having followed the debate, I’m sure many people voted yes because the current council leadership was against the idea. Anti politics and apathy were the biggest winners this week, but all is not lost. Hopefully a new way of doing things in Bristol will start to change that.
Elections – ‘We the council’ – Kevin Jump
‘Webist’ Jump provides insight into the information provided by council websites about this week’s local elections. He concludes that interest in the local elections is high and the correct information is available, but is not entirely useful and lacks focus on the needs of local users. A number of websites in the area I cover at work are included in the survey.
- Yes or no? (bristolculture.wordpress.com)
Local elections 2012: predicting the 50 councils to watch – LGiU blog
The Local Government Information Unit charts the more hotly contested local councils elections this year, which have yet to turn the heads of many people if my (very basic) tests of public opinion represent a wider view. It identifies a number of councils in the area I cover, including Southampton, Portsmouth, Swindon and Reading (where I have reported on elections in the past) amongst its ‘top 50’. Informative and useful. Lewis Baston makes interesting points in his post too.
Councils warned about politically sensitive posts during purdah – PR Week
It wouldn’t be election time without a warning in PR Week about purdah, with the latest edition containing an article about the use of digital and social media in the run up to polling day. In the piece, Alex Aitken makes the point that I’d like to hear more of: “The business of the council continues and reassuring people that we’re fixing potholes and looking after the vulnerable should continue to be communicated.”
Now purdah has started in almost every area where local elections are being held, communicators can expect to deal with various queries relating to what colleagues can and can’t say during the run up to the poll in May.
The video below (courtesy of Simon Wakeman) shows Alex Aiken, Director of Communications and Strategy at Westminster City Council, outlining the key things to consider in relation to purdah over the next few weeks.
The main message that comes through is that as public bodies we are duty bound to communicate with the public about the decisions we make. This remains the case whether purdah is in place or not.
It seems like weeks since the general election last year, which resulted in a period of political sensitivity (aka ‘purdah‘) that lasted until well into the summer while the new Government was establishing itself.
Purdah is the term that covers the regulations restricting what can (and mostly can’t) be said and done before an election. The unusual events that followed last year’s poll meant that many forms of communication were suspended for weeks during the initial negotiations between the coalition partners.
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The Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election (which concluded yesterday) has thrown up a familiar issue for those who work in or with the public sector, albeit in a rather unusual way.
The Guardian and Labour Party blogs were yesterday reporting that Local Government Minister Andrew Stunell had apologised for a series of events which led to complaints that purdah regulations were breached.
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