At last: the first sign of passion and audience excitement in an election speech

After much blogging about the absence of proper speeches at proper rallies during the election (see below), I was delighted to see this barnstorming performance from Gordon Brown at Westminster Hall yesterday:

I was also delighted that news of the speech was quick to circulate around Twitter and the blogosphere - and anyone who thinks that proper speeches at proper rallies don't make for good television might like to reflect on the fact that, less than 24 hours later, 37,531 viewers have watched it on YouTube (latest total at 22.00 hrs: 49,186).

But how much of it did BBC Television News let you see?
The BBC 10 0'clock news excelled itself with a seven and a half minute report that seemed to be designed to encapsulate everything I've been complaining about since the election began (see links below).

We were shown 22 seconds from each of the speeches by Brown, Cameron and Clegg - presumably exactly equal shares to conform to the Representation of the People Act.

But the Act doesn't constrain the verbosity of political editor Nick Robinson, who spent 123 seconds telling us what they said, asking each of them how they felt about it and generally pontificating about what was going on.

So viewers had to listen to Robinson speaking for more than half (52%) of this opening sequence, compared with just over a quarter (28%) listening to what three party leaders were saying.

Then to opinion poll news, where we were treated to more than a minute's display of the BBC's obsession with flashy graphics, as a manic Jeremy Vine migrated from a virtual bar-chart to a virtual House of Commons (see also Euro-election coverage: was the BBC's graphical overkill a violation of its charter?).

And, just in case you hadn't seen enough of Nick Robinson, up he pops again at the end of the sequence to bag another 74 seconds of the night's lead political story .

P.S. Since I posted this a few hours ago, John Rentoul, chief political commentator at the Independent on Sunday, has picked up on it and added some interesting comments HERE, based on his past experience of working with Nick Robinson at BBC Television.

Related posts on the election
Earlier posts on UK media coverage (or lack of it) of speeches


  1. Quite right too. The problem is that the BBC's coverage is dominated by Tories: Robinson and the unctuous Andrew Neil.

  2. Gordon Brown did well. I like the way he stirred up the crowd. It shows how a public meeting can create surprise (hecklers) and passion. However, I noticed that Cameron seems to have spoken to an empty hall. So it seems that Citizens UK didn't extend him the courtesy of turning out for his speech.

    I reckon it was a partisan crowd. If I were Cameron, I would learn the lesson and organise my own big event on the Sunday before the election. That emotion is valuable, and as you say it has given GB a lift.

    I would suggest that sometimes a performance is proportional to audience support. With a fired up audience the speaker can raise his game.

  3. I have just written to complain about this disgrace to the BBC. I urge all to do the same.


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