8 March 2009

‘From Stalin to Mr Bean’: putting two parts of a contrast in the most effective order

In case anyone thinks that the last posting was intended as a criticism of Vince Cable’s rhetorical skill, I haven't forgotten that his most famous line came when, as acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, he produced a devastating contrast at Question Time in the House of Commons (see below).

If he had said that Mr Brown ‘had become more like Mr Bean than Stalin’, the contrast between a bumbling fool and an autocratic dictator would still have been there and would no doubt have raised a laugh or two.

But on that occasion, he got the order of the two parts of the contrast the right way round, and not only had a tremendous impact there and then, but also did his own longer term reputation no harm at all.

The line also inspired a purely visual representation of his point on you YouTube that can be seen HERE.

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