The excellent Paul Waugh‘s blogged on Alistair Darling’s non-appearance on the Today programme this morning. The Chancellor’s absence says more about a programme living on past glories and producers who think it’s still as important as it once was.
Darling was prepared to do Today but effectively told by the show he would have to debate against Osborne or not appear at all.
Alistair chose not all – and quite right too. Instead he did 5Live which has a far more relevant demographic. Today listeners are politically engaged and more likely to be set in their ways with their party preference. Five Live are where the floaters are.
In fact, his SPAD Catherine MacLeod is one of the shrewdest media operators around – it was she and Darling’s wife Maggie who pushed for THAT Guardian sit down with Decca Aitkenhead where he correctly predicted it would be the worst recession in more than 60 years. That honesty and openess is now paying dividends with Darling scoring higher than Osborne in opinion polls.
Catherine, a former Herald and ITV hack, knows he’s far better going mainstream then arguing the toss with Evan and Humphreys et al at TVC.
Yes, Darling will do Today but they won’t be held to ransom by producers who believe appearing on the show is akin to making pronouncements from Mount Sinai!
Instead Alistair had to make do with live hits and reaching the following audiences on 5Live (people on school run) GMTV (AFTER 7am not BEFORE which poor old Osborne had to accept,) This Morning (stay-at-home mums), SkyNews (hacks), BBC Breakfast (more mums), Sky Radio (regional radio coverage), LBC (cabbies) Talksport (white van man) , 5 News, PA TV (newspaper websites), Reuters (financial sector), Bloomberg (more city whizz kids), ITV (more mums) and C4 News (teachers and students!)
In fact, such was the Chancellor’s ominpresence, I expected to see him presenting the ITV lunchtime weather. (Getting sloppy there, Catherine!)
Expect a lot more of this – the sofa’s the real media election battleground not the Today studio.