I'd like to record my sincere thanks to those who took the trouble to enter the Defend a Doomed Dictator Speechwriting Competition and whose efforts have resulted in seven more entries than I'd expected. Such was the quality that they deserve serious judgement.
So I'm delighted to announce that I'm also extremely grateful to three distinguished and experienced speechwriters for agreeing to act as adjudicators:
Danny Finkelstein is a Times columnist who was formerly Director of the Conservative Research Department and political adviser and speechwriter to William Hague when he was leader of the Conservative Pary
Olly Grender was the Director of Communications for the Liberal Democrats, before which she was speechwriter to Paddy Ashdown.
Phil Collins is a Times columnist and Visiting Fellow in the Department of Public Policy at Oxford, having previously worked in Downing Street as chief speechwriter to Tony Blair.
As they get down to their work, you might like to join in the deliberations and perhaps even predict the winner.
Where included, the titles submitted by the entrants have been included. And, in case you're surprised by some of their 'clients', don't forget that the rules did invite writers to compose a speech for 'the past or present dictator of your choice (0r one of his relations)'.
THE 7 SPEECHES:
Speech A: For Colonel Gadaffi (to be made at the start of the unrest):
42 years ago I led a glorious people's revolution which overthrew the corrupt enemy of Libya King Idris.
Today I am proud to see that the spirit of the people's revolution has been passed on to the younger generation.
I know why you, my fellow Libyans and revolutionaries are angry. I am but a man and I have made mistakes, mistakes and misjudgements which have led to the violence we see today, the same violence which is tearing our nation apart. I accept full responsibility for this. The fault is mine.
The people have spoken and I will respect their decision. I ask you only, from the bottom of my heart, for the chance to change. For the chance to change Libya to the nation you desire. For the chance to join with you in completing the people's revolution.
I denounce the rogue elements of the security forces that have disobeyed orders and attacked the people. Their commanders shall be tried by people's tribunals and punished accordingly.
I hereby draw a line under the past. I hereby request every city to choose representatives to attend a national congress to be held in Benghazi in 14 days. There I will listen to the demands of the people and submit myself to their will.
In the meantime, I urge you, my fellow countrymen, to end the bloodshed. Return to your homes and your jobs. The security forces will leave you in peace. Work together to clear the streets so that all can return to living without fear. Your demands will be met, but in the meantime let us stop any more blood from being shed, any more heads being broken and any more lives being lost.
I have heard you pleas as father of the people and I will work with all of you to build a new Libya of which we all can approve!
Speech B: What Saif Gaddafi might have said
Many Libyans have asked me to speak to you this evening.
I don't have a prepared paper, or a document to read from. I am not a spin-doctor. I will not speak in classical Arabic: I will speak in Libyan.
I’ll speak from my heart. And I will speak truly and frankly.
We all know that our region is passing through an earthquake, a hurricane of change. These storms are coming not from the leaders, but from you, the people.
Our people are angry. They - you - feel betrayed. They – you - demand a better life. They – you - have lost faith in the leaders.
Anger has led to protests, and protests have led to violence. Against the police and the army.
In Benghazi people wanted to storm the police stations and army bases, to try to seize weapons. Bayda is my town, my mother is from there. Extreme protesters there stole weapons and killed soldiers. Some of them want to establish an Islamic Emirate in Bayda. Naturally our security forces must resist this.
Tragically people have died, protesters and police and soldiers alike. Our fellow Libyans. Our brothers and sisters.
This is a national tragedy. I say prayers for all who have been lost in these clashes. The government will be making special money available, generous money, to help their families.
We all know one true thing. Libya is not Tunis or Egypt. Libya is different.
It has been a long road to come together to form our one nation. We had a civil war in 1936. It was American Oil Companies who played a big part in unifying Libya.
Surely we agree on one thing. We must not put our great achievements at risk.
If these protests continue and run out of control, our whole country could crash. A crazy scramble for our shared oil wealth would start. Who knows where it would go? We would slip back to 1936.
3/4s of our people live in the East in Benghazi. There is no oil there. What will happen to them? Who will invest in them? Your children will not go to schools or universities.
In recent years huge new investments have started. You can see them everywhere. New buildings. New schools. Our country is growing. We are using our oil money well. Jobs. Houses.
200 billion dollars of projects are now under way. If the country fights itself, what will get done? They won't be finished. Our shared wealth will blow away in the wind.
There will be chaos. Outsiders will move in to try to grab what they can. To manipulate the situation.
Not only Americans and big capitalists from Europe. Do you think they will accept an Islamic Emirate here, 30 minutes from Crete?
Europe and the West will not agree to chaos in Libya, to Libya exporting chaos and drugs. We will end up as a colony of Europe once again. Slaves in our own land!
Arab states too will dance with joy to see us fighting ourselves. Do we want that? Do we want to be weak and divided again? Libyans who live in Europe and USA, their children go to school. They are comfortable. They will be pleased to watch us kill ourselves, then come and rule Libya.
Tunisians and Egyptians who are here – they have weapons. They want to see us fight each other, then come in and divide Libya and take over the country.
What is happening in Bayda and Benghazi is truly terrible, sad. What if we end up divided once again? You who live in Benghazi, will you visit Tripoli with a visa? Our country will be divided! Like North and South Korea, we will see each other through a barbed wire fence. You will wait in line for months for a visa to see you brothers and sisters. Madness.
Imagine! Instead of crying over 200 deaths we will cry over 100,000 deaths. People will run from our beautiful country. There will be nothing here. No tourism. There will be no bread in Libya. Bread will be more expensive than gold.
We have to maintain national unity to avoid this disaster.
We have to maintain national unity to avoid this disaster.
Too much is at stake.
The protesters say “We want democracy and rights!”
Let’s talk about that. I am ready to talk.
I admit it. We should have talked about it before. We have spent too much time thinking about oil and money, and not enough time thinking about people, about what’s right.
I am ready to talk. I am ready to meet leaders of the protesters. I guarantee their safety.
We can ask our friends in other countries or at the UN to agree the rules for meeting safely and in peace.
I am ready to talk about new media laws.
I am ready to talk about civil rights, for an end to stupid punishments.
I am ready to talk about a new constitution. I am ready to talk about autonomous rule, with limited central government powers. Brothers and sisters, there are 200 billion dollars of projects at stake right now. Let’s not throw our own future into the dust and hit it with our shoes!
I am ready to talk about a new Libya, a new flag, a new anthem.
Brothers and sisters! We have two choices.
We can start to talk now. We can step back from the brink.
Or we can leap into a burning cave and die.
I am ready to talk. But I will not talk under threats. I can’t talk to screaming mobs.
Please understand my words. The Army and National Guard are loyal to Libya. They love their country. They love the people.
They will defend this country. They will not let it be divided. 60 years ago they defended Libya from the colonialists, now they will defend it from senseless division.
Yes, thousands of people are protesting. But millions of Libyans want to live normally in a peaceful honourable country.
Let’s stop shouting and fighting. Let’s start to do things better.
We are rich in oil. Let’s be rich in democracy and peace too.
Speech C: A televised address to the nation by the First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos
"People of the Philippines, tonight I want to share with you a problem which has been troubling me for many years. As a child growing up in Manila and Leyte I was always obsessive about cleanliness. I always kept my bedroom tidy and liked to have clean clothes to wear every day. When I was crowned Miss Philippines I saw this as a reward for my commitment to cleanliness.
In recent years this obsession has got steadily worse. Now I cannot wear a pair of shoes for more than an hour or two before I think of them as unclean and not fit to be worn any longer. My dear husband and your great leader Ferdinand has always supported me through this terrible illness.
But we both need your help. We need your money to pay for a constant supply of new shoes. We are very grateful to you for the money you have so kindly donated so far and are touched to see so many people demonstrating in the streets demanding to be allowed to pay more. We have heard your message and hope that, now that you understand why we need the money, you will be even more generous. I now ask you to return to your homes and to your jobs so that you can earn the money we so desperately need.
We know that we can count on you, the people of the Philippines, to help us. We know that we will enjoy your continued support through this difficult time. Thank you, may God bless you and goodnight."
Friends, Libyans, Countrymen! Lend me your ears.
I come to bury Colonel Gadaffi, not to praise him.
I’m not going to read to you from a document.
But speak to you from the heart.
I’m not going to address you in classical Arabic.
But talk to you in Libyan.
Above all, I’m not going to hide from you.
I’m going to say it as it is.
And it may be a bit messy. But it’ll be me.
We now have a huge opportunity for change.
It’s an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
We’ve seen it happening in Egypt, in Tunisia…
…and now, here, in Libya.
Not change brought about by foreign governments.
Not change brought about by traitors.
But change brought about by us, the people.
And there are some who are trying to resist that change.
So I say to you very simply:
Go back to your constituencies – and prepare for government.
My dear friends. My people. I speak to you tonight, or yesterday if you have degenerate recording technology from Western running dogs, on an issue which I am passionate about, as you are if you know what is good for you. And your country. The issue is, of course, me. Your dear leader and protector.
In the past days, thugs and bandits, armed with deadly golf clubs and tennis balls savagely looted from the royal palace leisure centre and spa, have been causing mayhem in our streets. My loyal guards, protected only by our meagre force of seventy armoured personnel carriers and a mere twelve fighter jets, have had to take precious time from their lunch breaks to quell the riots.
Some of the violent protesters have deliberately run in front of our brave soldiers as they were firing their weapons harmlessly toward open ground. There have been some casualties, perhaps three or four and not the fifteen hundred claimed by the western media, controlled by those who would see our brave nation fall.
I say to you, my people, pay no heed to those who would speak of “freedom and democracy”. You have everything you need under my benevolent and gracious rule, and should you wish for more, make an appointment to see my personal team of advisors who will persuade you otherwise.
I am, of course, still fully in charge of the nation, and not, as my enemies have suggested, on board a private jet bound for Argentina. Pay no heed to wicked rumours propogated by socialist media such as Tweeter and Facebooking.
it is time for you all to rally behind your leader. I know what the nation needs at this dark time. Put down your rudimentary weapons and go back to work. Otherwise I, or rather you, stand to lose a great deal. Thank you . Long live me.
F: Mugabe's Last Stand
The West proclaim the winds of change blow through Africa once more.
They can't contain their pleasure.
Their smugness betrays them.
It clings to every word.
But these aren't the winds of change that blew in the past.
The winds which freed us from the bonds of slavery.
The winds which spared us from the blight of exploitation.
The winds which saved us from the suppression of our colonial masters.
These aren't winds founded on freedom or liberation.
These aren't winds at all.
These are fires.
Fires fuelled by exploitation.
Fires stoked by the resource thirsty tyrants of the West.
Fires lit to incinerate the fabric of our culture.
The West have learned that regime change doesn't work.
Afghanistan and Iraq have failed.
They have failed for two reasons.
Their cultures, like ours, are unsuited to democracy.
Their governments, unlike yours, are under Western control.
The West have learned that regime change doesn't work.
They are not prepared to risk it a third time.
The West are not empowering a change of regime.
The West are implementing a change of policy.
A return to the policy of the past.
A return to the policy of exploitation.
A return to colonisation.
If controlling the government doesn't work,
become the government.
You are hearing whispers of a better future from people who are faceless.
You are not hearing firm declarations from the leaders of the future.
You are not hearing solid plans to deal with the problems of today.
You are not hearing robust proposals to pay off the debts of the past.
Why are there no leaders
no plans and
Because they don't exist.
The whisperers exist.
The rumour mongers exist.
Enemies always exist.
Waiting to exploit you,
and your future.
Whether we like it or not
this policy of African exploitation is a political fact.
So I ask you to take a moment,
take a deep breath,
and take a step back.
Take a step back from the future of their making.
So, together, we can march forward
to a future of our choosing.
G: (former) President Mubarak:
I am here today to speak to you
not as your President
but as a fellow Egyptian
I know you’re angry,
And you’re hungry for change
We’ve come a long way together
I’ve served you as your President for nearly 30 years
And I hope I have served you well
Now, as you line the streets
The world is watching
We have not had an easy journey together
Our struggles with our neighbours
And each other
have been difficult over the years
And now is no different
But we stand at a precipice
A turning point in history
And we must choose the right path
Or risk losing everything we have built together
I have heard your call for Democracy
And I accept it
The time has come for a new Egypt
An Egypt of strong citizens
Who will strengthen our nation
And build a new future for us all
But if I were to step down today
I would leave the nation in uncertainty
and other enemies of Egypt
looking to use this chaos
to undermine and attack
the principles of freedom and democracy
that we all seek
I know I should have done more before today
But I ask you now
To let me stand with you
And deliver the change that we so desperately need
I can announce today that I will be appointing a reforming cabinet immediately
Who will set a timetable for an urgent election
And once an orderly transition is in place over the coming days
I will step down
and allow the Prime Minister to oversee new, free and fair elections
to deliver the hope of a new Egypt,
and fulfil the promise of this new generation!
So I ask you all
return to your jobs, your homes and your families
and together we will start a new chapter in our history
May the peace and mercy and blessings of Allah be upon us all.