As promised the other day, here are some notes on the rhetorical highlights of Daniel Hannan’s attack on Gordon Brown.
At its simplest, the more use a speaker makes of the main rhetorical techniques and imagery to get key messages across, the more likely it is that a speech will achieve high audience ratings (for more detail on these and how to use them, see any of the books listed on the left).
Given the impact of this particular speech, it’s therefore hardly surprising to see just how frequently he uses them – at a rate that comes close to the frequency to be found in some of Barack Obama's speeches (on which, see earlier postings on his victory speech and inaugural address).
Edited footage of the following five highlights can be seen below.
1. THE OPENING
Attention grabbing opening with a Puzzle (that sounds as it though it could be a compliment) followed by a solution packaged as a contrast (that turns out to be an insult/attack):
Prime Minister, I see you’ve already mastered the essential craft of the European politician,
(A) namely the ability to say one thing in this chamber
(B) and a very different thing to your home electorate.
2. ATTACK PACKAGED AS A ‘YOU/OUR ‘ CONTRAST:
The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money.
3. EXTENDED METAPHOR INTRODUCED BY TWO CONTRASTS:
(A) It is true that we are all sailing together into the squalls.
(B) But not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapidated condition.
(A) Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and clear their rigging; in other words – to pay off debt.
(B) But you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further.
As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the water line under the accumulated weight of your debt.
4. INSULT/ATTACK PACKAGED AS A‘NOT (A) BUT’ (B) CONTRAST WITH ALLITERATION:
(A) Now, it’s not that you’re not apologising; like everyone else I have long accepted that you’re pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things.
(B) It’s that you’re carrying on, wilfully worsening our situation, wantonly spending what little we have left.
5. CONTRASTS FOLLOWED BY SIMILE, FOUR 3 PART LISTS (WITH REPETITION) AND A CONCLUDING PUZZLE-SOLUTION:
(A) Prime Minister you cannot go on forever squeezing the productive bit of the economy
(B) in order to fund an unprecedented engorging of the unproductive bit. [applause]
(A) You cannot spend your way out of recession
(B) or borrow your way out of debt.
And when you repeat, in that wooden and perfunctory way, that our situation is better than others, that we’re well placed to weather the storm, I have to tell you, you sound like a Brezhnev-era Apparatchik giving the party line.
(1) You know,
(2) and we know,
(3) and you know that we know that it’s nonsense.
Everyone knows that Britain is worse off than any other country to go into these hard times.
(1) The IMF has said so.
(2) The European Commission has said so.
(3) The markets have said so, which is why our currency has devalued by 30% – and soon the voters, too, will get their chance to say so.
And soon the voters too will get their chance to say so.
PUZZLE: They can see what the markets have already seen:
SOLUTION: that you are the devalued Prime Minister of a devalued government.