I’m a bit late with this one but I wanted to write something about the ridicule that Ed Milliband received for eating a bacon sandwich inelegantly.
On one level I think it’s a bit rude to take a photo of someone eating. It’s not often going to be pretty. Continue reading
In the last two posts I have been using a 2009 research paper on why British and Dutch politicians chose to go on Have I got News for You and its Dutch adaptation, Dit was het Nieuws to help understand why politicians dance publicly when their job doesn’t obviously require it.
The motives of the politicians who participated in the comedy programmes drew from three repertoires: strategic, indulgent and anti-elitist. This final post will look at anti-elitism:
In this repertoire, parliamentary politics and the media responsible for covering it are presented as institutions crowded by elites possessing their own language, style and in-groups which are more or less alienated from their constituencies and the public at large. The politicians drawing from this repertoire see it as their responsibility to perform differently and show that politicians are also ordinary human beings, with their ups and downs, their flaws and imperfections.
Today David Cameron has been “setting out proposals designed to deter citizens of other EU and non-EU countries from coming to Britain in order to take advantage of the NHS and the welfare system.” This speech is a useful case study of how speeches are staged and how audiences are just part of the choreography.
[Originally published at guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 10 October 2012, before David Cameron’s speech at the 2012 Conservative Party Conference. Reproduced in time for David Cameron’s speech at the 2013 Conservative Party Spring conference with kind permission of the author.]
From asyndeton to hyperbole, how many of Cameron’s tics will you spot in his speech today? Simon Lancaster sets the tone
I start with asyndeton. Short sentences. Bundled together. In groups of three. Sounds breathless. Urgent. Hyperventilating. No conjunctions. Wonky grammar. Disconnected ideas. Look left. Look right. Look centre. They’re listening. They’re watching. They’re feeling. Then stop. Pause. Breathe.
This week I came across the work of Drew Westen professor of psychology and psychiatry at Emory University. His book The Political Brain looks at the role of emotion in determining the USA’s political life, essentially making the point that people make political decisions (for example about who to vote for) based on emotion rather than reason and rationality. I didn’t find this surprising but it’s interesting work nonetheless. Other studies seem to suggest that effectiveness of emotion varies by political orientation for example if you are a Republican politician apparently it helps a bit to make the audience laugh.
Speeching is a project to find different ways to understand political speeches, not just with our eyes, ears and brains, but by using all of our bodies.
Speeching comes from a wider interest of mine in understanding democratic politics from the perspective of the body – what actually happens physically when we vote, when we demonstrate or when we sign a petition? Perhaps by understanding – or even changing – democratic politics at this level we can find new ways of doing things before we can think of them rationally.