Barack Obama’s greatest speeches are full of images and stories. Ed Miliband’s effort on Tuesday was piled with abstractions and cliches, taking us into the bargain basement of oratory.
“We need a new bargain…the big challenge of building a new bargain…the Tories aren’t building a new bargain” – how on earth do you build a bargain? In a speech criticising our materialistic society, the choice of language showed a tin ear. “Bargain” conjures up images of Poundland, not of an optimistic future.
At the heart of every great speech is a proposition: a clear and strong statement of what the speaker believes. Miliband’s speech didn’t have one, which is why it appeared to lack shape and purpose.
Great oratory opened the doors of the White House to Obama. If Miliband is to follow a similar path, he should sack his language experts and get hold of an accomplished wordsmith.
(This piece appeared in the London Evening Standard newspaper on the 29th September 2011)