10 May 2011

Compromise or betrayal: truth or rhetoric from Paddy Ashdown?

It's always good to see former pupils making use of powerful rhetorical devices like the contrast, whether in a speech or an interview (below).

Since last Thursday's collapse of the Lib Dem vote, I confess to having wondered why their former leader was being given so much air time. Yes, when he was leader, broadcasters were frustratingly reluctant to have any LibDem MPs other than Paddy Ashdown on their shows (HERE).

But twelve years and three leaders later, there he still is on our screens - pretty much regardless of which network you happen to be watching, as in this clip from Sky News:

Compromise or betrayal?


Truth or rhetoric?
As this is a 'non-aligned' blog, it's obviously up to readers to draw their own conclusions about whether this particular contrast between compromise and betrayal is an accurate assessment of the post-poll situation or 'mere rhetoric'.

A Lib Dem Dilemma?
Ashdown's recent ubiquity on the media also raises another question, namely how long should elder statesmen carry on in the front line? It occurred to me because his frequent appearances since last Thursday prompted, for what it's worth, quite a lot of negative comment on Twitter.

Does the regular participation of a former leader (from 12 years ago) give the impression that current leading party figures are in hiding and happy to let an old-timer take the flak? Does it imply that someone who isn't in the coalition government has rather more influence behind the scenes than we've been told. Or does it merely remind viewers that the party once had a charismatic leader who was blessed with what I've described elsewhere as the 'je ne sais quoi' factor, and implicitly invite them to make negative comparisons with the current leader?

I don't have a clear answer to any of these questions, but I do think that they should give the Lib Dem communications strategists some food for thought...


Anonymous said...

I think you mean je ne sais quoi not je ne sais pas

Max Atkinson said...

Vous avez raison Monsieur ou Madame Anonymous -merci. Je l'ais correted maintenant!

Richard Edwards said...

The Lib Dems have a real communication problem. For example, what do they stand for? And why should anyone vote for them? The old reason of casting a protest vote has gone, and from Clegg down no one has articulated a real reason to support them. Moreover, somewhat amazingly they let others frame debates even on issues important to them. For example, AV.