2 March 2009

Gordon Brown's model example of how to express condolences

In earlier posts, I have commented on the importance of funeral orations and have also sometimes been critical of Gordon Brown's speech-making.

But, when it came to his offering condolences to the leader of the opposition on the death of his young son, Brown's short statement in the House of Commons last week was about as moving as these things can get - and was deservedly recognised as such in parts of the media that are not normally known for supporting the Prime Minister or the Labour Party.

For students of speech delivery, listening to a speech while reading the script can be a useful and revealing exercise, especially in learning how pauses can be used to express emotion, and you can check the transcript against Mr Brown's delivery here. You can do the same thing with Tony Blair's 'People's Princess' speech by clicking on the funeral orations link above.

BROWN: I know that the whole House will want to express our sorrow at the sad death this morning of Ivan Cameron at the age of just six years old, and our condolences go out to David and Samantha and to the Cameron family.

I know that in an all too brief young life, he brought joy to all those around him, and I know also that for all the days of his life, he was surrounded by his family's love.

Every child is precious and irreplaceable and the death of a child is an unbearable sorrow that no parent should ever have to endure.

Politics can sometimes divide us. But there is a common human bond that unites us in sympathy and compassion at times of trial and in support for each other at times of grief.

Sarah and I have sent our condolences to David and Samantha and I know that the whole country – our thoughts and our prayers – are with David, Samantha and their family today.


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