In a previous posting, I suggested that actors, with the notable exception of Ronald Reagan, aren’t always very effective speech-makers.
But yesterday, we saw actress and Gurkha justice campaigner Joanna Lumley showing two party leaders the virtues of brevity and enthusiasm when it comes to delivering a highly sound bite (rounded off with a nice simple three-part list):
LUMLEY: When it came through – we saw it on the screen in the corner I can’t tell you the sense of elation, the sense of pride: pride in our country, pride in the democratic system, pride in our parliament…
By comparison, the reactions of Messrs Clegg and Cameron came across as rather long-winded and their impact was arguably weakened by their eagerness to use the victory to get other political points across:
CLEGG: It's a victory for the rights of Gurkhas who have been waiting for so long for justice. It's a victory for Parliament over a government that just wasn't prepared to listen. But actually the biggest victory of all... it's a victory of decency. It's the kind of thing that I think people want this country to do - that we pay back our obligations, our debt of gratitude towards generations of Gurkhas who have laid their lives on the line for our safety. I'm immensely pleased that David Cameron and I have been able to work on this together, that Labour backbenchers have also been brave enough to vote with their consciences. It was a cross-party effort. It was a great, great day for everybody who believes in fairness and decency in this country.
CAMERON: Today is an historic day where Parliament took the right decision, that the basic presumption that people who fight for our country should have a right to come and live in our country has been set out very clearly. And the government now have got to come back with immediate proposals, so that those Gurkhas that have been waiting so long now for an answer can have that answer. It can be done. We've set out a way for it to be done that doesn't ruin our immigration system and it should be done. And I think everyone should say congratulations to Joanna Lumley for the incredible campaign that she's fought, with all these brave Gurkhas, some of them very old and very infirm, coming to Parliament again and again. The government attempted a shoddy deal today to try and buy off some of their backbenchers. And I'm proud of the fact that it didn't work and I'm proud of all those Labour MPs who joined us in the lobby - and actually got the right result for Britain and the Gurkhas.