Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Conference Speechwatch 2013 - Nick Clegg, LibDems

Nick Clegg faced a tough task in front of his party today as he tried to establish both his success as a party leader and his achievement as a deputy prime minister. He began with a "joke" about his first day as deputy PM, talking about the "utter chaos" at the start of the coalition.

His first "claptrap"  - 'Fixing the economy" drew muted applause. He began confidently, stressing most of the words in most of his sentences. His first triplet "Feel proud.." was followed by "Liberal Democrats - we are a party of Government now!" Again, the applause was muted.
He used a rising series of phrases, well emphasised to generate a good reaction, to return to a softer tone when talking about income taxed. He surfed the applause, and used the "just one more..." tactic twice.

He made a strong plea for coalition government, asking people "not to give the keys of number ten to a single party". He then turned to comments of a more personal nature, and his upbringing in the seventies watching adversarial politics. This set up the speech's core message - that coalition and collaboration is the way forward. He was earnest and animated, but still for me, came across like a deputy head delivering a speech to the sixth form at the end-of-term assembly.

He was relaxed and confident throughout, with the occasional coughing break during the applause, which grew stronger through the speech, as his voice grew weaker. He made a sustained attack on Labour, with the repeated phrase "..just to score points against us".

In a less than ringing phrase, he stressed his party's commitment to Europe with  'We will be the party of in". The audience looked confused, perhaps just by the tortured grammar. He told a story about his father-in-law being elected mayor of a small Spanish village. It wasn't clear what  the point was.

He also made a strong plea for a "no" vote in the Scottish constitutional referendum, with a promised of a "new settlement for this nation".

There was a cheer for "I'd like to be Prime Minister on my own, thank you very much". He clearly has his party onside, if not over-excited. However, he applause-surfed into a great phrase: "We’re not here to prop up the two party system: we’re here to bring it down."

The closing section of his speech was about his personal circumstances - his parents, his brothers and sisters, his wife, his children. It was sound stuff, if not that inspiring.

His speech finished just before his voice gave out. His closing tricolon, before the obligatory standing ovation, was not very memorable: "Liberal Democrats take that message out to the country. Our mission is anchoring Britain to the centre ground. Our place is in Government again."

Overall - six out of ten. 

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