Did George Osborne get away with reading his speech from the back of the hall?

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Gigantic screens at the back of the hall, big enough for speakers to read their scripts from, seem to be replacing more traditional teleprompters (like Autocue) this year.

The picture above was posted on Twitter earlier today by Paul Waugh during George Osborne's speech at the Conservative Party conference - and retweeted as follows by John Rentoul, who had presumably also noticed similar goings on at the Liberal Democrat conference:  

"Very Nick Clegg RT @paulwaugh: Autocues in the audience for Osbo speech.. Helpful for any soundbites we miss."

This raises at least two questions that our politicians might like to consider.
  • Do they really want comments on their latest gadgets to become a focus of attention for journalists?
  • Does this technological gadgetry help them to improve the delivery of their speeches?
The answer to the first of these questions is presumably "No" - unless, of course, they're quite happy about reporters being distracted away from the content of the speech.

And, on the evidence of today's performance by Mr Osborne, the answer to the second is also a resounding "No" (but you can judge this for yourself below).

As for why this should be, I suspect that the technology and/or the script aren't in place soon enough for the speaker to get enough practice at using it before making the actual speech itself - for which he, his aides and the gadget operators would all have to make extra time when the hall was deserted..'

Some related posts on teleprompters:

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