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Hello, it's Gordon here ... Gordon Brown


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Gordon Brown has taken to "cold calling" members of the general public, newspapers reported on Friday, in the latest charm offensive aimed at restoring his battered popularity.


Brown, reeling from a string of poor election results, has been randomly phoning critics who have written him letters of complaint to make the point that he really does listen.


While Downing St officials insisted it was not a new initiative, media reports on Friday said the idea had come from his newly appointed strategy chief Stephen Carter.


Carter, a former public relations chief, wanted to "humanise" his new boss, PR Week reported.


"Carter thought it was a good idea to have Brown call people personally," an insider told the industry magazine.


"Carter will choose a letter or email at random, have one of his team at Number 10 prepare a response, then get Brown to call."


The tactic, revealed on the same day as Labour recorded its worst opinion poll showing since surveys began in 1943, has been used by dozens of politicians since Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential campaign.


It is not known how many calls Brown makes a week, but newspapers reported on Friday it was as many as two dozen.


The magazine said the tactic backfired once, when Brown, an early riser, rang a member of the public at 6 a.m. -- a claim Downing Street has denied.


No Downing Street spokesman was immediately available on Friday morning.


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