Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown gestures during a press briefing at the Nelson Mandela foundation after his launch of a new High Level Panel for Education in Soweto
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown gestures during a press briefing at the Nelson Mandela foundation after his launch of a new High Level Panel for Education in Soweto

Project Volvo - the 2006 plan to rebrand Mr Brown as a prime minister-in waiting has been laid bare by the Daily Telegraph, revealing what seems to be a caricature of politics behind the scenes.

The new leaked documents which included secret memos between Mr Brown and Tony Blair, as well as communications with key aides such as Ed Balls, have an air of English summer drama, as tales of frustrations, rivalries and ambitions are all competing for one and only goal: power.

Project Volvo perfectly symbolises this as it started as an enterprise to rebrand Gordon Brown'and give him an image overhaul. No, Project Volvo was not launched to turn or train Brown into a great leader, but rather aimed at providing him with a clearer understanding of the marketing shortcuts he needed to take to project the image that would make people think he was a great leader.

The document gives us a rare insight into the thought processes that actually shaped Mr Brown's time in Number 10, but also the techniques used by politicians and their team to get into their electorates collective psychic.

As it reveals that the then chancellor was seen by voters as "humourless, dour, moody, aggressive, unapproachable", he was advised that he needed to come across as more likeable.

What are the role models the aspiring future Prime Minister should look up to, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela? No, the king and queen of TV Richard and Judy of course, "Use Richard and Judy mode at all times" the document states.

Apparently, the plan to get him into Number 10 was code-named Project Volvo because that and "British Rover" were, apparently, the forms of transport voters most associated with him, while in opposition David Cameron was a "sports car, BMW " type of guy.

The document also give us a better understanding of why Gordon Brown was never keen on Cameron as envy might have struck when Cameron was compared by the public to a "horse, big cat" while Mr Brown was a "bear, buffalo, dog".

No wonder Mr Cameron is now the Prime Minister as we learn that people usually associate him with "spritzer alco-pop" while Mr Brown was always a "pint of beer, whisky" bloke.

While those tactics are supposed to be standard polling practice as they are meant to give an insight into the gut reactions of floating voters have towards people they mainly get to know through the scope of the mass media, they are nonetheless hilarious, if not risible.

With more bad news as the floating voters saw brown as "associated with both the failures of New Labour, and anti-political feelings" the new strategy was, we are told, to entice the undecided voters by turning Brown into the candidate they could relate the most, perhaps as a kind of political "agony aunt". Of course the quickest way to reach out to the audience was to get him to tell his personal story. The voters would get to know him, and then naturally trust him.

As his team astutely noted that people already liked the fact that he "was a family man, seemed solid, intelligent and trustworthy, and had been a 'gifted' child", the public now just needed to know who he really was.

What best, when fighting an Etonian than to play the "I am a normal and therefore grounded" type of guy who just like everybody else has also had to fend off struggles?

Following the leak, observers immediately linked the emphasis on normality to Mr Brown's first Labour conference speech as leader, in 2007, when he spoke at length about his "ordinary" down-to-earth childhood and the eyesight-saving operation he had on the NHS as a teenager.

Coming across as ordinary is a running theme in these leaked documents, and one note speaks of the need for more Labour spokespeople to be "normal".

Compassion was also seen as a necessary skill so "Africa moments in the UK" were somehow cited, while his background as a family man who has long-standing friendship was to be highlighted in the campaign.

And of course like in every celebrity image overhaul, the leader to-be was advised to hang out with a younger and trendy crowd, loose some weight and swap his old set of clothes for a brand new wardrobe.

As silly as the leaked document might sound, scarily, a year later Gordon Brown was indeed the new Prime Minister. The quick fix however did not last as long as he had hoped as three years later he certainly did not leave 10 Downing Street on a high.