23 January 2013
Cameron on Europe: a press release thinly disguised as a speech
Finding out when and where David Cameron's much-trailed speech on Europe was taking place today posed at least as much of a challenge as working out what the point of it all was.
What I eventually discovered was that that both the when and the where of the speech were quite unusual - unless it's suddenly become fashionable for our politicians to deliver major speeches at 8.00 a.m. in the morning on the off chance that the American news agency in central London (where the speech was being given) would be able to drum up an audience at a moment's notice to listen to it - or, to be more precise, to prepare reports on what he said for the rest of the day's news programmes.
Who was there?
From the above, there's very little evidence that anyone was there at all: no coughing or sneezing and not so much as a hint of applause at the end of the speech.
Yet there were, of course plenty of people there, not supporters who might have cheered or clapped, but representatives of the media busily writing notes on what he was saying - while he was saying it (which keen 'listeners' could follow live, as the words came out of his mouth, on the BBC website HERE).
Speech or press release?
So does this really count as a political 'speech' delivered by a leading politician, or was it merely a case of a leading politician taking the trouble to read out a press release - on the grounds that no one would take any notice of it unless it were disguised, however thinly, as 'a speech'?
And are we going to have to put up with more and more such non-speeches as the stock-in-trade of contemporary political communication?