17 October 2009

Contrasting reactions to Cameron's 'poverty moment'

I’ve just caught up with BBC’s Question Time that was broadcast on the day of David Cameron’s leader’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

Given what I’d said last week about the high spot being the sequence on poverty in which he 'surfed' applause (HERE and HERE), I wasn’t at all surprised to see two of QT guests singling it out for comment.

But I was surprised and intrigued by the very different audience reactions to their attacks on that particular part of the speech.

Asked whether David Cameron is ready to become prime minister, Ian Hislop only got a slight titter of laughter for his reason for saying “yes”:


It may well have been his failure to get a bigger laugh that prompted him to carry on at greater length. But his overt attempt get a reaction by pouring scorn on Cameron’s ‘poverty moment’ got another rather lukewarm response - and his final sentence was greeted by a deathly and quite lengthy silence before Dimbleby called for the next speaker:


By contrast, Labour cabinet minister Yvette Cooper’s characterisation of the same sequence as ‘synthetic indignation’ and her quote of Cameron’s line in the speech about ‘being straight’ with people got a fulsome round of applause:


For members of the Tory communications team, this positive response to Ms Cooper must have been as discouraging as the lack of response to Mr Hislop had been encouraging.

But there was one evaluation of the speech as a whole from a member of the audience that must have been music to their ears - and worth at least one bottle of champagne (to be drunk, of course, out of sight of any roving TV cameras):


1 comment:

Brian Jenner said...

It's intriguing that people decide whether it's a good speech or a bad speech according to whether they like what was said, or believe what was said sounded plausible.

Why don't the commentators look at it as a text? Cameron has an amusing habit, of stating what he's not going to do, and then doing it:

"We all know how bad things are, massive debt, social breakdown, political disenchantment. But what I want to talk about today is how good things could be."

Most of the speech is negative, and the last bit is extremely vague about how things could be good.

When I listen to him I long for active verbs, strong verbs of energy and action. I also yearn for stories that reveal their grasp of the complexities of Government. How does Government rebuild responsibility? Show me, don't tell me.

I recommend that Cameron's speechwriters attend a very good seminar coming up at the National Liberal Club on Monday 2 November.