Delivery-Man Kinnock, Who Wrote All His Own Speeches, Has Final Word on Blair and Brown

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 30, 2006 | Go to article overview

Delivery-Man Kinnock, Who Wrote All His Own Speeches, Has Final Word on Blair and Brown


Byline: By Darren Devine Western Mail

It's been a week when Labour's ruling elite have jockeyed for position with speeches designed to win new loyalties and sever old ties as the party prepares for a new era. Darren Devine explores how politicians use a mix of passion, wit and wisdom to deliver the perfect speech with one of the most powerful orators of his generation - Neil Kinnock

NOTHING better reflected their different positions than their speeches. Soon to be shorn of the responsibilities of high office Tony Blair regaled his audience at the Labour conference with a speech laden with anecdotes about his personal life as well as the stock references to past achievements and future goals.

But Gordon Brown's delivery, perhaps sensing he will soon be assuming Blair's office, featured fewer personal insights and more statesmanlike detachment.

Neil Kinnock, a man regarded as one of the most commanding orators in British politics in the 1980s, said Brown and Blair were at their most effective when speaking from the heart.

The former Labour leader and now Lord Kinnock said that over the past 10 years there had been an increase in speech drafting with advisers, rather than the address being exclusively the work of the person giving it.

Lord Kinnock said the secret to captivating an audience is minimising the formalities.

'The final drafting should always be done by the person who is going to make the speech. When Tony Blair gave his on Tuesday and Gordon Brown on Monday the most telling parts of their speeches were self-evidently when they were speaking from their hearts and minds.

'That is what an audience wants, whether it's 25 people sitting in a room or a huge TV audience gets and appreciates.

'People will listen politely to wallpaper speeches filled with formalities, but they'll never convince anybody.'

Lord Kinnock said 'big slabs of fact about 1,000 this or thats' will bore an audience to tears. The qualities that defined his own speeches, like passion and commitment, are essential to engage an audience.

'Speeches need commitment and passion. There is a place for fact and quotation, but they have got to illustrate the point, not bury it.

'Only use fact and quotation to illuminate, not to dazzle.

'It's also essential to get the balance right. But passion in a speech has to be authentic, because synthetic passion deserves the death that it gets.'

Lord Kinnock said though the current vogue is for endless drafting with the help of spin doctors, as Labour leader he refused to speak anyone's words but his own.

'Over the last 10 years there has been a noticeable increase in speech drafting, rather than it being done by the person who has to do the batting and bowling.

'I had some good people working with me giving me ideas in draft form, but I just wasn't able to use other people's words so I would write every one myself. …

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