Deborah Mattinson

Deborah Mattinson advised Labour through the 1980s and the birth of New Labour. She then worked closely with Gordon Brown as he prepared to become PM, and after ‘transition’. She has a unique perspective on the New Labour years through the eyes of the voter. She began her career in advertising, working at McCann Erickson, then Ayer Barker. She left to set up Gould Mattinson with Labour strategist, Philip Gould, in 1985. Deborah co-founded Opinion Leader Research, now the UK’s top research and engagement consultancy, in 1992. She has just set up a new company, BritainThinks, with the aim of bringing the public’s perspective to the debating table, connecting decision makers in business and government more closely with the national mood. Deborah Mattinson had a unique perspective on the New Labour project. As Britain’s leading political pollster, she has been monitoring public opinion since the mid-1980s, and helped transform Labour into Europe’s greatest election-winning machine of the modern era. Most recently as chief pollster to Gordon Brown as Prime Minister, she has been on the frontline of electoral politics, consistently representing the voter’s side of the story to the politicans. Sometimes, she has encountered scepticism - a belligerent John Smith made an unappreciative witness to one of Deborah’s focus groups - and she has often had to convey unwelcome results - telling a grumpy Gordon Brown he needed to spruce up his appearance cannot have been easy.

In her book Talking to a Brick Wall, with a foreword by Michael Portillo and a stellar cast, including Neil Kinnock, Peter Mandelson, John Smith, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Deborah reviews the New Labour years from the voter’s point of view. It tracks the ups and downs of the Blair/Brown era as seen from beyond Westminster, showing how closely political reputation correlates with voter connection.  It also profiles the swing voter, shows the importance of women’s votes, and what gives a politician popular appeal, and maps the voters’ views through the 2010 campaign and its immediate aftermath, showing how the electorate has been left out of political decision making and revealing the public’s recipe for rehabilitating the Labour Party and rebuilding trust in democracy. A champion of democratic renewal through citizen engagement, Deborah Mattinson believes that we must move to new grown up partnership politics if democracy is to thrive.

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