Rob Hutton

The Only Political Speech You’ll Ever Need To Read

Political summer holidays aren’t all about body-boarding and pointing at fish for the cameras. For most in the front rank of British public life, their fortnight in the sun is when they begin the work of drafting the Big Conference Speech. It’s important to them because, despite the many ways politics has changed with television and the internet, no one is considered leadership material unless they can successfully deliver a 50-minute speech to a roomful of supporters.
David Cameron pointing at some fish. Image: WPA Pool/Getty Images

David Cameron pointing at some fish. Image: WPA Pool/Getty Images

The speech, reporters are always told in advance, is ‘their most personal yet’, probably because ‘they wrote most of it themselves’. If the message is ‘Serious Leader, Serious Times’, it will be delivered static, from a lectern. If it’s ‘From The Heart’, it will be done pacing around the stage, with a backdrop of diverse and photogenic people hanging on every word. A spouse should be somewhere in shot, eyes wet with pride. Attempts to be a ‘Serious Leader From The Heart’ by coming out from behind the lectern halfway through tend to look as though the politician has lost their train of thought and hopes to find it at the front of the stage. Aside from its delivery, the contents of the conference political speech are a minefield, as the politician strives to avoid upsetting the competing interests in their party while looking dynamic and ideally saying something at least slightly appealing to the general public. Fortunately, help is at hand. My new book, ‘Would They Lie To You?’, explains Uncommunication – the art of getting from having something you don’t want to say to having something you haven’t quite said. As a service to any politicians still struggling over their keyboards, I’m pleased to present all all-purpose speech. Every other Spectator reader might like to think of it as The Only Political Speech You’ll Ever Need To Read:

Thank you all so much for that welcome.

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