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academic commentary on political discourse

Quote of the week

“The problem was that while those in my party were relaxing many of those “filthy rich” were not paying the taxes they should have been.”

Who said this on 15th September 2016?

Continue reading “Quote of the week”

Strategies for holding the floor

Holding the floor in the House of Commons during PMQs is not easy. With noise, shouting and barracking from members of the chamber, it can be quite easy for the current speaker at the dispatch box to become ruffled. This could potentially lead to a loss of face and sometimes the floor if The Speaker decides to intervene. Continue reading “Strategies for holding the floor”

Equivocation – the first penalty shoot-out of the season

Just as the new football season gets underway with the same old tricks and moves, so the new political seasons kicks off this week. Andrew Neil (Daily Politics interviewer) went up against David Gauke (Conservative MP) in the first penalty shoot-out of the season. As MPs do, Gauke brought his ‘equivocation gloves’ to the studio to defend against the interviewer’s penalty kicks. Continue reading “Equivocation – the first penalty shoot-out of the season”

The power of the eyes

In face-to-face communication, the eyes (and eye gaze) are the most powerful part of the body we have. John McDonnell illustrated this on Sunday when he directly turned to the camera during an interview on the Andrew Marr show (BBC). The change in gaze from interviewer to viewer (and then back) provided a powerful shift from the traditional interview format to one addressing the television viewer.

Continue reading “The power of the eyes”

Tetchiness from Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn got a little ‘tetchy’ in his interview with Jackie Long on Channel 4 news yesterday. Corbyn seems to have these moments when being interviewed on national TV particularly when he is running for a leadership contest. Here he is sparring with Krishnan Guru-Murthy in 2015 when he was first running for the Labour leadership.

Continue reading “Tetchiness from Corbyn”

Quote of the week

“Remain means remain”

Angus Robertson, 20th July 2016

PMQs watch: Theresa May’s first outing – a touch of Thatcher perhaps?

Theresa May delivered her first Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon and came through the event relatively unscathed with a touch of “Thatcher” to her performance as some commentators noted.

Her former boss, David Cameron, developed a competent, confident and charismatic approach to PMQs. May scored well in two of these areas but lacked the charisma of her former boss. Continue reading “PMQs watch: Theresa May’s first outing – a touch of Thatcher perhaps?”

May’s first PMQs

Theresa May, the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will perform her first Prime Minister’s questions (PMQs) on Wednesday in the House of Commons. PMQs is known to be a testing ground for new Prime Minister’s and leaders – their performance at PMQs can often be a sign of the quality and leadership potential as perceived by the media and the public.

Theresa May has a lot to live up to since the previous Prime Minister, David Cameron, was considered to be a master of PMQs. Prime Minister’s need to know their brief but also strike the right tone between competence, confidence and charisma. It will be interesting to see how she performs. Continue reading “May’s first PMQs”

 Quote of the week

“I was the future once.”

David Cameron, PMQs, July 2016

 

PMQs Watch: Humour at Cameron’s last PMQs

Politicians are not noted for their stand-up comedy routines, but there was plenty of good humour at David Cameron’s last Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Many of the jokes were scripted and some fell a little flat as members struggled with their delivery. However the sense of occasions and the fact that it was the politicians delivering the jokes, at their own expense in some cases, meant that there were some genuinely funny moments worthy of Mock the Week or Have I Got News For You. Continue reading “PMQs Watch: Humour at Cameron’s last PMQs”

Five telling moments from David Cameron at PMQs

David Cameron will take part in his last PMQs as Prime Minister on Wednesday. Cameron has been at the dispatch box answering questions most Wednesday afternoons since he became PM in 2010, although he spent several years asking questions as Leader of the Opposition before that. Continue reading “Five telling moments from David Cameron at PMQs”

Quote of the week

“Brexit means Brexit”

Theresa May, 11th July 2016

Continue reading “Quote of the week”

Damian Green’s odd hesitation pattern

Most politicians are quite adept at side-stepping difficult questions so it was a surprise to hear Conservative MP Damian Green get somewhat tongue-tied when asked to reveal something about Teresa May on the BBC Radio 4 PM programme.  Continue reading “Damian Green’s odd hesitation pattern”

Quote of the week

“I will be with you, whatever.”

Tony Blair, July 2002 (to G.W. Bush)

The language of U-turns

We all have to make U-turns in our lives sometimes: reversing our car when we realise we’ve gone down the wrong road; changing our opinion on some topic; wearing something we swore we would never wear.

For politicians, making a U-turn is potentially face-threatening so getting the language right to explain the U-turn to the public is paramount. It seems that these days anything that has been said in the past can be overturned provided the explanation ignores what has been said and looks only forward. Continue reading “The language of U-turns”

Turn transition with the eyebrows

Turn change can often be signalled via body language. Here Hilary Benn gives the turn back to Andrew Marr through a raise of the eyebrows and a slight forward movement of the head (09). The rising intonation on Benn’s tone unit (08) suggests that he was not finished with his comments but he yielded the floor to the interviewer (Marr) who had indicated his desire to take the turn in 06 with a brief attempt to interrupt. Continue reading “Turn transition with the eyebrows”

Slips of the Tongue – “Child free tax care”

A few weeks ago I reported on a slip of the tongue by David Cameron in the House of Commons. Here is another slip, this time by Conservative MP, Andrea Leadsom, during the EU referendum debate. Continue reading “Slips of the Tongue – “Child free tax care””

Slip squared!

Slips of the tongue can be embarrassing for anyone speaking in public, but when the slip occurs twice in quick succession, one has to ask whether the speaker subconsciously really wanted to say something different. David Cameron (DC) was outlining during PMQs the tough steps the government had taken against ‘unscrupulous employers’ under his premiership when he mistook the word ‘employees’ for ‘employers’ – a reasonable mistake to make you might think. Continue reading “Slip squared!”

⇘ORder (.) ⇘ORder

The Speaker of the House of Commons (John Bercow) delivers some interesting articulations of “order order!” – the phrase which is most commonly used to bring members to order. Here are five examples all with different stress, intonation, length and loudness. The first one (01) is the normal rendition. Continue reading “⇘ORder (.) ⇘ORder”

Grayling’s grilling

Political interviewing can be a frustrating affair when the politician being interviewed refuses to answer directly the questions put to them. John Humphries, a BBC radio 4 presenter and interviewer, gave Chris Grayling, a Conservative MP, a grilling on the Today programme when he questioned him over recent remarks by Boris Johnson, one of Grayling’s colleagues. Johnson had recently compared the European Union to Adolf Hitler in their attempts to create a ‘super state’. Humphries wanted to know whether Grayling agreed with this position or not. However, Grayling was not ready to give a direct answer and an interesting game of cat and mouse ensued which makes for a useful CA analysis. (The full transcript is given at the end.) Continue reading “Grayling’s grilling”

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