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academic commentary on political discourse

1.3 seconds is a long time

Pausing in a political interview can be taken the wrong way and have consequences for the ensuing discourse. Here is Emily Thornberry (ET) pausing for 1.3 seconds (line 05) during a TV interview on Channel 4 news with Jon Snow (JS). 1.3 seconds might not seem like a long time but in the context of this discussion it is seized on by the interviewer as ‘hesitation’, or a sign perhaps that the question is troublesome for the Labour politician and her party.

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The story is bigger than the words

Political flashpoints often arise and are sustained when participants in the story refuse to listen to what has actually been said by someone. This seems to be the case of Ken Livingstone who has recently been suspended from the Labour due in part to comments he made linking Hitler and Zionism.

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Cueing your own ‘revealing ah’

Can a politician cue their own ‘revealing ah’? Theresa May appeared to do this at Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday in the House.

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Equivocation & hesitation

There is a good example here of a politician being put in a tight corner on spending by the interviewer and having to equivocate. In the second part the pressure to equivocate is revealed in the increased hesitation in the speech of the politician.

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Pantomime time for the Revealing ‘ah’

Here is a nice example of the revealing ‘ah’ by backbench MPs in support of Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs. A revealing ‘ah’ is a comment made by a few members of the chamber in order to back up and support some revealing fact that the current speaker is delivering. The comment is purposively mocking in order to  add emphasis to the face-threatening nature of the revelation.

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Quote of the week

“So I’m looking at two states and one state. And I like the one that both parties like.”

Donald Trump, 16th February, 2017

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No-no-no Chorus

A no-no-no chorus in the House of Commons is an echoing by Members of the chamber of the current speakers words in order to reinforce the points and create impact. An example of this was given in Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday when the Prime Minister, Theresa May, was listing a set of items in response to Jeremy Corbyn’s questions.

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Quote of the week

“This is just a little pit stop. This is not a period this is a comma.”

Barack Obama, 20th January 2017

Dodging questions

The weekend seemed to be the time for dodging questions for politicians up and down the politician spectrum. Theresa May was dodging questions on a nuclear missile test. Jeremy Corbyn was dodging questions on whether he would use whips in the Brexit vote. And Donald Trump’s advisor was dodging questions on the size of the inaugural crowds.

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Top stories of the year

Here are the top five stories of 2016 from neutralfooting for you to open in the run up to Christmas.  Continue reading “Top stories of the year”

What colour is Brexit?

If Brexit were a colour, what colour would it be? Are you dreaming of a ‘white’ Brexit meaning we get everything we hoped for? Or is your Brexit ‘black’ meaning we get out of Europe as quickly as possible with no strings attached? Maybe you are looking for something in between – a ‘grey’ Brexit – presumably with 50 shades?

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Brexit is bacon and eggs!

Andrew Davies seems to have infected others with his ‘Brexit is breakfast’ slip of the tongue. Here is Andrew Neil, the BBC presenter, producing a similar slip of the tongue on the Daily Politics programme while interviewing Gavin Barwell.

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Down, down, down!

Jeremy Corbyn was met with a ‘down-down-down’ chorus from his own backbenchers at Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday. They were not calling for him to step down however! On the contrary, they were showing their support for their leader as he went up against Prime Minister Theresa May.

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Gove: “It was a mistake”

MPs sometimes have to eat humble pie and admit that they have made a mistake. In an earlier blog, I showed how Michael Gove MP used all his political rhetoric to make a historic U-turn on running for the Conservative leadership after David Cameron had stepped down. After coming third in the election for leader and some weeks later, he came up against Sky’s Adam Boulton who obviously took great pleasure in grilling him on his leadership failure.

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Quote of the week

“Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a titanic success of it.”

Boris Johnson, 2nd November 2016

Slip of the tongue

A slip of the tongue from Jeremy Corbyn during PMQs.

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The semantics and pragmatics of ‘Brexit means Brexit’

We have been tracking the use of the slogan ‘Brexit means Brexit’ at neutralfooting. At Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday we learnt a little more about its use though the Prime Minister who originally coined this soundbite.

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Oy you, spit out your gum and shut up!

Politeness in the House of Commons takes on many forms but is often exhibited through off-record, negative and positive politeness. Here is an excellent example of how the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, avoids direct face-threatening language as he attempts to chide a noisy and boisterous MP (MacNeill) and remind him that chewing gum is not allowed in the chamber.

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Quote of the week

“You know what some people call them? The nasty party.”

Theresa May, 5th October 2016

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Brexit means breakfast!

Slips of the tongue can be embarrassing for the speaker at the best of times but often provide light relief for the audience. So it was with the Welsh Conservative leader, Andrew Davies, who was speaking at the Conservative party conference yesterday. Davies meant to say “we will make Brexit a success” but instead said “breakfast”.

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