13 December 2009

Dr Cable's 'medical' diagnosis of our economic problems

I've just been doing some homework preparing a course for some high-powered economists next week.

At the heart of the brief I've been given is that they want get better at communicating complicated technical material to non-specialist audiences.

The search for suitable examples took me to my collection of clips from Vince Cable, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, about whom I've already posted quite a few examples and comments:
'On the subject of 'boring subjects', one of the interesting things on the British political scene in the recent past has been the rising esteem for the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable, whose star has risen on the back of his ability to sound as though he's talking more sense about complicated economic and financial topics than most of his competitors.

'However boring and incomprehensible such subjects may seem at first sight - or when coming out of the mouths of Gordon Brown or Alistair Darling - Cable talks about them with clarity and authority.

'And it's probably no coincidence that, unlike most of his political opponents, he's one of the ever-decreasing number of MPs who actually had a proper job outside politics before becoming a full-time politician.

'As chief economist at Shell, making economics intelligible to colleagues who weren't trained as economists must have been a routine part of Vince Cable's everyday working life - that has now, in his 'new' life, become his strongest 'political' asset.'

When it comes to making set-piece speeches, Cable is not the most brilliant exponent of the art, and his real forte is in unscripted Q-A sessions, whether on programmes like Question Time, Newsnight or in media interviews.

In this clip, after introducing the idea that the system has suffered a heart attack, he goes on to round off the point with a 3-part list - and it's worth remembering that his PhD was in economics, not medicine (or rhetoric):

CABLE: This was an enormous shock to the system - a big economic heart attack - so it's not surprising that a lot of damage has been done ...
[1] ... we've got a patient that's in intensive care,
[2] it's been rescued from a disastrous heart attack
[3] but it still needs the monetary steroids.


Some related posts on using imagery to get messages across:


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