Monday, September 29, 2008

Osborne fails to bite head off bat

Unlike Ozzy, George Osborne doesn't do rock and roll. But he did perform reasonably well in Ozzy's back yard, Birmingham, getting a sustained round of applause for a pledge to freeze Council Tax bills. On closer inspection, it's not actually a pledge, since the levels of Council tax are set by local authorities. It's more a strong bit of encouragement to Councils to keep bill low, by offering to rebate any increases below 2.5%. Still, it's a good sound bite in a fairly dull speech.

Earlier, dear old Boris Johnson made an excellent speech, poking fun at his old rival Ken Livingstone, and at Arnold Schwarznegger, who last year criticised Boris's speaking skills. Boris remarked " it was a low moment, my friends, to have my speaking style denounced by a monosyllabic Austrian cyborg."

Politics apart, the Tories do seem to have better lines this year. Parties in opposition often do, since they have more time to prepare their speeches, not having to worry about day-to-day issues like governing the country.

The word is that Cameron's speech will focus on Corporate Social Responsibility - an odd choice, so maybe it's a smokescreen. I'm sure he'll have some good one-liners.

In terms of the quality of political speakers, I don't think the UK has an embarrassment of riches at the moment. My favourite orators (in no particular order) are Boris Johnson, Vince Cable, and - er - can't think of a current great Labour speaker at the moment. Luckily, there are still two brilliant political orators knocking around - Tony Benn and George Galloway. Agree with them or not, you have to admire their rhetoric.

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