Thursday, September 24, 2009

Max Atkinson on Nick Clegg's Bournemouth speech

Max Atkinson, the speaking guru credited with turning Paddy Ashdown into an orator, has an article on his blog about Nick Clegg's speech at Bournemouth yesterday.

He writes of the "noticeable absences" in Nick's speech - no mention of the Conference rows over tuition fees and the "mansion tax" - and comments tellingly on his mode of delivery:

Given Mr Clegg’s obsession with not being regarded as a clone of Tory leader David Cameron, repeated in yesterday’s speech with jokes about Brad Pitt, I remain baffled as to why insists on aping the management guru-apparently unscripted-walkabout style of delivery that made Cameron stand out at the Tory leadership beauty parade in 2005 – and set him on course to win the top job.

If you want to assert how different you are from someone else, why on earth would you copy that person’s distinctive (for a British politician) style of delivery? Why would you do it if you aren’t as good at it as him? And why would you do it when even Cameron has increasingly given it up in favour of looking more ‘statesmanlike’ at a lectern?

I think that is right and hope to see Nick change his style for future set piece speeches. But I fear that some of those around him are determined he should follow the Cameron style guide to the letter.


Joe Otten said...

Didn't Clegg do that before Cameron?

Duncan Borrowman said...

Didn't Charles do it before Cameron?

David Cox said...

Why oh, why, doesn't Nick follow Paddy's example and get Max to help him.

Stephen Tall said...

Personally, I hope Nick adopts and stick to the style he's most comfortable with - if that's a conversational walk-about, so be it.

It seems very odd to criticise Nick's supposed obsession with marketing/spin experts, and then to urge he change his preferred speaking style in response to what Cameron does.

Andrew said...

Didn't Jesus do that before Cameron?

Max Atkinson said...

I think people should read the whole thing before jumping to any conclusions - as it's at least as much about media reactions to the speech and and the possible disadvantages of Autocue as it is about walking about - as you'll see at

David Cox said...

Stephen, Don’t get me wrong Nick's speech was great; it’s nothing to do with marketing/spin, imitating David Cameron or fakery, it is about developing Nick’s already good speaking skills, so that he use them to best effect.

Nick is already excellent at ‘town hall meeting’ style events and very good at PMQs (considering the advantage Brown and Cameron have).

dreamingspire said...

Surely, as Cameron gets closer to the election, he has to be more and more careful not to have any gaffs in his speeches. That means a script, that means sticking to the script, that means Autocue for most people.
Nick Clegg, by contrast, can (and I believe should) take some risks.
Recently I have twice heard Lord Adonis speak on railway matters.
Once was at the launch of the "Door to door by public transport" paper. Mostly scripted, but there was a central section that was not - there he was commentating on his slides of his investigation into the provision for cyclists at London stations.
The other was at an award ceremony for innovation on and around the railways (mostly about engineering that improves the services). No script, no gutter press or broadcasters, very effective.