1 October 2012

Ed Balls may be a better speaker than he was, but...

James Forsyth's assessment of Ed Balls as "a vastly improved platform speaker" (Spectator) was quite widely echoed by other journalists today on Twitter.

Michael Crick of Channel 4 News (@MichaelLCrick) told us that Mr Balls had "rehearsed his speech in his hotel room with an ironing board" - adding, rather unkindly: "which may explain why, in the end, it was a bit flat."

Looking on a brighter side, I think it's quite impressive these days to hear that our politicians take the trouble to rehearse their speeches at all, especially when they've taken the apparently daring decision to use a hard copy script rather than read from an Autocue.

But there were two things about this particular speech that puzzled me:
  • First, quite a few tweets on Twitter noticed and commented on the Labour Party's unexplained decision to abandon a red background completely in favour of making it look as though they'd stolen the Conservative's erstwhile monopoly on blue.
  • Second, although I can see why today's Labour hierarchy prefer saying "conference" to "comrades" (as in the past) was it really necessary for Mr Balls to repeat the word 33 times during his speech - especially when both words draw attention to the fact that he has trouble saying his 'r's and pronounces the words as "confwence" and 'comwades"? 
For me, at least, I found the excessive, and in my view pointless, repetition of "confwence" so distracting and annoying that I stopped watching the speech when he was only about half way through - which is presumably not what he hopes for from his audiences.