many years ago one of the careers i considered was that of a speechwriter. at the time i was thinking about it i was a much funnier person and much more talented, back then i was funny in a woody allen les dawson sort of way, these days i am les dennis channelling bill hicks.
as with other job choices (policeman, probation officer, postman, priest, porn-star or international jewel thief) the idea of speechwriter disappeared when the need to put food on the table reared it’s ugly head.
admittedly lack of talent was also a big factor.
by strange coincidence i am also a pretty awful public speaker. my speech is littered with the usual “erms” and “ums”, all of which is spiced up with a more than liberal sprinkling of “fucks”, “shits” and “cunts” (which would have made me an interesting priest for sure). at least i don’t do “innit”.
as if my limited vocabulary wasn’t bad enough i don’t have a public speaking voice, it is the sound of a squeak chipmunk. it is true i have started to drop my voice when in a position that i have to speak publicly (well as i approach the size of pavarotti i may as well try to have a tenor(ish) voice).
this week i have been listening to some of the labour party conference, i have enjoyed some good speeches, and i have listened to some awful contributions.
some of the speakers from the floor vary from the nervous bunny caught in headlines to the strong strident bellicose.
from the platform you had patricia hewitt prowling the stage in a sensual almost dominatrix style cajole the conference to her view. she spoke without the use of the prompt.
you had bill (mr. president) clinton wowing everyone with his praise of new labour, his praise of tony, gordon, cherie and uncle tom cobleigh. in-between his praise of new labour and his talking up his foundation and the work it has done clinton made some interesting points and made a rallying cry that has perhaps come a few months too late for new labour. clinton now has the freedom to talk in a way that does not have to appeal to constituency of voters. so he laid out the need for change to ensure that climate change, aids and poverty are all successfully dealt with.
clinton also issued a warning to the labour tribes. when he left the presidency america were close to being debt free, now they are borrowing money from mexico in order to pay for clinton’s tax cut.
then there was tony blair. his speech was a valedictory that weaved between an admission that he had made some mistakes and a warning that the party really should be on their knees begging him to stay. he outlined the reasons why new labour should be re-elected and reminded the conference that they can’t change the world if they are not in power. he laid out some of the unfinished business he wanted to do (giving him the ability to dodge further questions about “the date” and providing a framework within which the party and the government will have work within).
it was the speech of a man who no longer had to worry what people thought of him, the weight of the world was now off his shoulders. it was vintage blair, a speech that reminded you just why he has been voted in 3 elections. but for a blind faith in recent american foreign policy he would have been going for a 4th electoral victory.
meanwhile brown had to provide a speech that didn’t lose him his chance at being the leader of the party and prime minister. he had to thank tony blair for the work he had done, he had to speak about the legacy of the labour party and indicate he would continue in the direction that had been established, while indicating where he would lead the party. an acknowledgement of the past and a nod of the head to the future.
he let people know that he had made mistakes (both he and blair must be wishing that someone like prescott had bitch slapped them both and reminded them that it wasn’t about them but about the party and the country). he also showed his human side, and managed to do it without being mawkish about it (unlike the recent (non) news story that brown had cried when his daughter had died – now call me hard, call me shallow, call me nasty but surely to fuck the story would have been if when his daughter had died he had popped her into the microwave and served up baby fritters. the fact that a father cries at the death of his daughter strikes me as so normal as not to be worthy of notice – but we live in a society that loves misery memoirs and loves to drink up the despair of others).
of the speeches brown’s was the one the struck me as being the best, if only because he had to square the circle but in the main he did it.
we have prescott to look forward to – but i am expecting that to be a comedy turn, even though i have even more admiration than ever before because he has said i am not going anywhere, i am still deputy leader, you will have to sack me.
just for that you have to love two jags.
lets hope he gets to have a fourth term.