Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Silly people

Lefthandpalm is moderately amused at how the panel of experts that the Independent invited to comment on Gordon Brown's speech all come to completely different conclusions about the same things (1). Getting his wife to introduce him was a masterstroke. Getting his wife to introduce him was a blunder. The speech started well. The speech started badly. It ended badly. It ended well. Brown spoke well. Brown spoke badly. Brown announced bold new policies. Brown announced nothing of note.

Lance Price
Former Labour Director of Communications


Gordon Brown's speech showed that, in policy terms, New Labour still understands where the centre of political gravity is in this country. My reservation is that he still hasn't found the language to reach out beyond the party, who loved the speech, to people at home to persuade them to look at him afresh and the party afresh.

Judi James
Body language specialist

There was real pace of movement. It was a high-energy performance that said, "I'm up for the fight." It was also the most natural smiling I have seen him do, as he threw in some genuine humour. But I did not like the fact that Sarah came on at the start. It may not do him damage, but in the long run he has got to be able to look like he is standing on his own two feet. He must not look like he is hiding behind Sarah's skirt, or Peter Mandelson's trouser-leg.

Lynne Franks
PR Consultant


Sarah's introduction was brilliant and Gordon started well. He looked powerful, confident and energetic and did not seem like a man down and finished. For me it was great to hear him supporting Harriet Harman early on and back her Equality Bill. But at times, his claims, such as tackling cancer, seemed over the top, and on issues such as pensions and free childcare, the trust question remained. I was left thinking, why haven't these things happened already?

John Curtice
Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University


The Prime Minister aimed for the right targets – to remind voters of Labour's past achievements, to suggest he is on the side of the "mainstream majority", and, above all, to give an idea of the better future he hopes to deliver. But it is not clear the whole was more than the sum of the headline grabbing parts, voters may still be unclear about the shape of the fairer, more responsible Britain Mr Brown says he wants.

Robert Bean
Branding analyst


Despite a typically tough, barnstorming flurry of policy presentation, the Brown brand hasn't really moved on. His reputation of "all substance and no style" has been borne true with this speech. And whilst the speech contains plenty of substance, it's questionable if the voting public will buy the brand next year. It's sadly too little, too late. And there's a danger that he could re-write his legacy as "not enough substance, with definitely no style".

Neil Sherlock
Former speechwriter to Paddy Ashdown


The speech started well and was brilliantly set up by Sarah Brown. It certainly did play well in the hall, not least the anger and passion shown. The economy message would have been stronger if it had been more personalised to what people are experiencing. There were some new policies – but did they weave a clear theme? The key question is: was it powerful enough? Was it personal enough to give Labour a chance to get the choice message across?

Andrew Hawkins
Chief Executive of ComRes polling


Having made a strong start, the rest of his speech lacked spark and impact. But at least we know the campaign narrative: this election is different because of the new economic climate. Labour will say the Conservatives cannot be trusted on the economy because they have too much faith in the markets and showed poor judgement in their response to the financial crisis. This is a powerful argument because it exposes the Conservatives' weakest flank. Will it be enough to turn around the poll ratings? No, especially if David Cameron gets a bounce of his own next week.
Almost like ... whisper it ... they don't have any idea what they are talking about and are just making noise to maintain their own profiles and justify their salaries? A bit like Gordon Brown, in other words ...
1 - " Brown fires starting gun in race for Downing St," by Andrew Grice. Published in The Independent, 30th of September, 2009. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brown-fires-starting-gun-in-race-for-downing-st-1795146.html)

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