The Staggers 26 February 2010 Cameron and Brown hire the Obama magic Parties prepare for the TV debates. Print HTML The Times and FT report today that Camps Brown and Cameron have reached across the Atlantic to borrow a little of Barack Obama's election-winning know-how to help them get into shape for the leaders' television debates. The Tories have hired Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director (name-checked on this blog yesterday for praising the Daily Show's Jon Stewart), and Bill Knapp, in the form of Squier Knapp Dunn Communications (check out the flag-waving website). Brown, not to be left behind, has employed the services of Joel Benenson, Obama's lead campaign pollster and strategist. Shipping in American expertise is a good idea -- they are experts at the TV debate format, which is new to British politicians, and the subject of apparently lengthy wrangling between the parties about structure, style and protocol. Perhaps they will import a little professionalism to their speaking styles: the Brits are schooled in the art in the House of Commons, more of a conker-bashing playfight than a forum for serious policy debate. And it makes sense to turn to the Obama team -- they won, in a legendary campaign, in spectacular fashion. But I can't help but suspect that the real motive is that Teams Brown and Cameron simply want a magical injection of Obama's qualities (in his vote-winning election incarnation, as opposed to his present embattled state). Hiring his people is one way of getting the fix. It's like the photo-opportunity fight, the who's-better-friends-with-him tussle, all over again. Remember those cringing pictures of Brown clinging on to Obama's handshake with a pleading look in his eyes (see above)? Or the news that when they met, Cameron gave Obama gifts including a box of CDs by some of the Conservative leader's favourite British musicians, among them the Smiths, Radiohead, Gorillaz and Lily Allen. Translation: "I'm hip; I'm cool; just like you! BE MY FRIEND." NB: Of course, Cameron now deems poor old Allen "unsuitable" (watch her career crumble before your very eyes). And all this proves is that the Dave U-turn is alive and well and affecting all the great issues of the day. Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter. › Michelangelo's Dream Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman From only £1 per week Subscribe More Related articles The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either America’s domestic terrorists: why there’s no such thing as a “lone wolf” The Fire Brigades Union reaffiliates to Labour - what does it mean?