Like every other politician, James Hacker, Minister of Administrative Affairs, was called upon to make many speeches and pose for many photos. It was tiresome but necessary exposure for anyone wishing to advance his career in politics. In the following extract from his diary, Hacker recounts an experience with this unavoidable feature of a cabinet minister's work.
Tuesday, April 9: It's always hard to find something to make a speech about. We have to make a great many speeches, of course, and we must try to have something to say. Yet it can't be particularly new or else we'd have to say it in the House first, and it can't be particularly interesting or we'd already have said it on TV or radio.
I'm always hoping that the Department will cook up something for me to talk about, something that we in government would have to be talking about anyway. But you have to be careful that, in their eagerness to find something, they don't cook up anything too damn silly. After all, I've got to actually get up and say it.
Most civil servants can't write speeches. But they can dig up a plum for me (occasionally) and, without fail, should warn me of any possible banana skins. Today I plan to make a speech about the environment, which I'm doing a lot of recently and which seems to go down well with everyone. I'm going to be talking against the construction of more ugly skyscrapers in London.
Wednesday, April 10: Excellent coverage in the press today for my speech against high-rise buildings being bad for the environment. Headlines in a couple of the quality dailies: Hacker Speaks Out Against Tower Blocks and Hacker's Courageous Stand on High Buildings. To be called courageous by a newspaper is praise indeed.
But all this coverage in the posh press, though nice, isn't worth all that much in votes. There was no coverage of my speech in the popular press, and it's been weeks since I had my photo in any of the …