Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Authenticity, When You Can Fake That, You're Unstoppable.

The Guardian's most over rated hack is undoubtably Jonathan Freedland, he isn't quite awful but is just relentlessly mediocre. Today his column consists of seven pieces of advice for Gordon Brown.
5 Remember, authenticity is your strongest suit

Aficionados of the West Wing still cite the episode titled "Let Bartlet be Bartlet": it taught the crucial lesson that, even if they can pick up new presentational skills, politicians must remain true to themselves if they are to be believed. One cabinet colleague says that the most important sentence Brown has uttered since launching his campaign is, "I am a conviction politician." If David Cameron were to say that, notes the minister, even his best friends would laugh. Brown's consistency and solidity might not be flashy or exciting but they remain virtues
.The idea that there is anything authentic about Gordon Brown is questionable, this is a man who tried to boost his English credentials by claiming that his favourite goal was Paul Gascoigne's goal against Scotland in Euro 96. Suppose however that Brown is indeed authentic, look what Freedland's third item of advice is:
3 Hire Tony Blair's speechwriter

Whatever else you think of him, you cannot deny that Blair has been unrivalled as a communicator. Most of that has been down to his own skill, fluency and delivery. But the material has helped, too. Brown is a deep, scholarly thinker but, by his own admission, the simple, memorable phrase does not come to him easily. Rather than rely on his immediate circle, he could bring in Philip Collins, who has crafted some of Blair's best speeches in recent years.

If that's too much, then Brown should get more professional backup - including an "advance" team to ensure that never again will an autocue screen stand between him and the camera. I'm told he's already taking guidance - from film director Alan Parker among others - and it is noticeable that he now speaks more slowly, addressing his audience rather than the lectern. He was more relaxed on Andrew Marr's sofa on Sunday, too. But he still needs to curb the instinct to step on his own applause lines.
Nothing like an autocue to demonstrate authenticity is there? Much of the hostility towards Blair deries from his tendancy to make extravagant promises in public speeches which could not then be delivered upon in the real world.

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