When you have a blank page in front of you and need to fill half an hour the pressure is on. You can put anything down. You are the creator. Maybe with help, but you are definitely the ultimate arbiter of what comes out of your pie-hole. Ed Miliband delivered a serious speech on a serious subject to a serious audience on Friday: the most recent banking scandal. But how easy is it to take him seriously?
His remarks on Britishness a week or so ago, which he wrote himself, kept leaping to the front of my mind as he called for a “full, open and independent inquiry” into the British banking system. Specifically, the image of a plasticine cartoon character and a gangly man who talks a lot about cars.
Miliband’s ill-judged comments got me thinking about some quotations from modern history we, thankfully, will never see.
“Yes, I look a bit like overly-sweaty, mainly-manic, rubber-faced comedian Lee Evans but I am a good Foreign Secretary.” David Miliband.
“I concede I am a grey man who sometimes wears his pants over his trousers, but don’t you worry. I am an effective Prime Minister.” John Major
This fashion statement is now, of course, de rigeur with Generation Y. He was ahead of his time sartorially, as well as being a bit of a goer.
“I am a posh midget who lives in the pocket of David Owen but would make a terrific Deputy. I want to be PM but may accept a small portfolio.” David Steel.
It is unfair to say, as some have, that Ed Milliband’s best strategy to get a lead over David Cameron is to say nothing. But you do have to wonder why he brought his plasticine doppelganger Wallace into London’s Festival Hall.
And was there a slide on the screen?
And Jeremy Clarkson? Unbelievably, he got a mention. Seriously, he did. In a big set-piece speech by an aspiring Prime Minister. Google it: you get the added bonus of Daily Mail alongside the two surnames. Ed’s spin doctors must be so pleased. I bet Clarkson is turning cartwheels. In fact, if the big chap is on the ball he’ll be fashioning something into a cheeky column soon and it will trend on twitter. I glance at half of his Sunday Times column and laugh occasionally; I bet he is hilariously politically-incorrect at a corporate event; I have never watched an episode of Top Gear. What was Milliband thinking, risking opening a debate with the denim-clad, turbot-mouthed cookie-monster of Englishness?
If, as is reported, Miliband wrote this speech himself he needs to give someone a red pen and half an hour with it a few days before delivery. Wallace and Clarkson would not have made the cut. Self deprecation is all very well, but it’s usually best to leave the personal barbs for others to deliver.
Especially when the next time you are behind the lectern the job is trying to propose a plan to save our entire financial system.
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Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.