Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Comeback for Oratory? Yes, We Can

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Comeback for Oratory? Yes, We Can

Article excerpt


MANY Journal readers will have been both impressed and moved by Barack Obama's acceptance speech to the huge crowd in Grant Park, Chicago, on US election night.

Indeed I thought throughout the campaign Obama's eloquence and oratory was so refreshing to see and hear. The news soundbites from American elections have for so long seemed shallow. (Cue introduction of candidate ..."the next president of the United States..." - cheers/balloons/banners waving with candidates name/etc; then the candidate... "I am standing before you as the next president of the United States..." - cheers/balloons/banners waved etc).

But here was a guy who was articulate, had a clear message, and so importantly possessed the skills of an orator. Surely without those skills the junior senator from Illinois would never have got to the dizzy heights of presidential candidate.

Indeed would Churchill have been so revered as a great war leader if he had lacked his undoubted talent as an orator? (Or indeed would Hitler have caused so much havoc, death and destruction if he hadn't?) Could Obama's victory mean that oratory, or even good public speaking, is on the way back?

Being in an audience addressed by a good orator can be inspiring and exciting. I was fortunate to be a trade union delegate at the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth in 1985 when Neil Kinnock made his now famous "Labour council scurrying around in taxis handing out redundancy notices.." speech which routed the Militant Tendency and started the Labour Party back on the road to electability. It was electrifying to be there, real "hairs on the back of the neck" stuff!

And didn't the current "Brown Bounce" start with his speech to the conference in September?

The set leaders' speeches at all three party conferences have taken on huge importance. (If you read Alistair Campbell's The Blair Years it seems that despite 9/11, Iraq, Diana's death and Northern Ireland the annual speech was what stressed Blair and his aides most! …

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