It was only one word. But it was a word that spelled trouble for the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.
The trouble concerned a speech that Mr Clegg’s office had distributed to the Press Association in advance of him actually delivering it. That’s a standard operation for a politician’s staff keen for the Press to report on a speech in full.
But it’s also a dangerous operation if no-one actually reads, edits or vets the speech before it’s sent out via email.
On this occasion the danger involved the word “bigot” that was contained within the speech. No-one spotted the word. Or, if they did, they didn’t find anything wrong with it.
But within 90 minutes of the speech being emailed to the Press Association, Mr Clegg’s office tried to withdraw the email communication. That doesn’t work. Recipient interest in an email simply grows out of all proportion when its sender tries its withdrawal. A futile and calamitous move.
The damage had been done as the Press Association gleefully reported Mr Clegg’s discomfort with the speech. And Mr Clegg? He went on record as saying how discomforted he was at any suggestion that he would ever try to use the word “bigot” in a speech.
And his opponents in the same-sex marriage argument? They in turn went on record with their distaste for the Deputy Prime Minister’s purported remarks in the speech.
A calamity that would have been avoided with some proper speech editing. Distribute your speech in haste, repent at leisure might be a summary.
The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Based in Oxford, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK. Andrew Ivey on Google+