The post has just arrived and in it a very nice surprise, the discovery that Jacques Seguela, one-time adviser to President Mitterrand, now close confidant of President and Madame Sarkozy (indeed he intoduced them), and something of a legend in French political communications, has dedicated his latest book to little old moi.
With apologies for the missing accents here and in the French bits of the long posting which follows – the dedication to ‘Le Pouvoir dans la Peau‘ (Power in the skin) reads ‘A Alastair Campbell, mon spin doctor prefere’ (three missing accents in one word – mes excuses sinceres).
So what did I do for this honour, you are asking? Well, perhaps the fact that he asked me to read his book, and write a ‘postface’ assessment both of his writing and of the issues he covers, and the fact that I said yes, has something to do with it. He says some blushmakingly kind things in his ‘preface to the postface’, which I will have to leave to French readers of the whole thing (published by Plon). But for the largely Anglophone visitors of this blog, I thought some of you might like to read the said ‘postface’ in English (apart from the bits where I quote direct from his book). I hope all those students who write asking for help with dissertations will find something quotable in it.
Meanwhile I am off to Norway for a conference and a meeting with the Norwegian Labour Party. I’m looking forward to being in the country with the highest ‘human development index’ in the world, and which showed such a mature response to the recent massacre of Oslo and Utoya.
Here is the postface to Le Pouvoir dans la Peau
Jacques Seguela writes about political campaigns and communications not merely as an expert analyst, but as an experienced practitioner. Hence his latest book contains both insights worth heeding, but also enlivening tales of his own experience. He is observer and participant; outsider looking in, and insider looking out. There is much to look at, not least in France with a Presidential election looming, and the outcome far from easy to predict.
We live in a world defined by the pace of change, and whilst the velocity of that change has not always impacted upon our political institutions, many of which would remain recognisable to figures of history, it most certainly has impacted upon political communications. As Seguela writes: ‘En 5 ans le monde de la communication a plus evolue que dans les cents dernieres annees. ‘ Google, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook have quickly entered our language and changed the way we communicate, live our private lives, do business, do politics. People do not believe politicians as much as they once did. Nor do they believe the media. So who do we believe? We believe each other. The power and the political potential of social networks flows from that reality. Though fiercely modern in their application, social networks in some ways take us back to the politics of the village square. They are an electronic word of mouth on a sometimes global scale. This has changed the way people interact with each other and with their politicians.