I’ve warned Gordon Brown and his speechwriters before (HERE) that it’s not a good idea to lift lines from other people’s speeches. This was prompted by one of the lines from a speech he made in July last year:
“There’s nothing bad about Britain that cannot be corrected by what’s good about Britain …”
This bore an uncanny resemblance to something Bill Clinton had said in his inaugural address in January 1993:
“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”
Then, when Brown spoke to the US Congress three weeks ago, he came up with:
“There is no old Europe, no new Europe, there is only your friend Europe.”
Not surprisingly, this got some commentators wondering if his scriptwriters had now started borrowing from the collected works of Barack Obama, whose address at the 2004 Democratic Convention had included the folowing:
“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there’s the United States of America.”
Obama subsequently recycled a similar version in other speeches, including the one in Chicago after he had won the election:
“We have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are and always will be the United States of America”
Recycling your own material may be acceptable, but there is nothing whatsoever to be gained from recycling material that sounds as though it’s been lifted from someone else – other than the kind electoral disaster Joe Biden experienced when his unattributed use of lines from a Neil Kinnock speech brought his otherwise promising 1987 campaign for the Democratic nomination to an abrupt end.
But Brown and his speechwriters still don’t seem to get it. So, here we are, hardly three weeks since he told the US Congress:
“There is no old Europe, no new Europe, there is only your friend Europe”
we hear him telling the European Parliament:
“There is no old Europe, no new Europe, no east or west Europe. There is only one Europe – our home Europe.”
Pass the sick bag please ...