David Cameron launched the Tory Party’s 2010 election manifesto yesterday at the less than inspiring, derelict Battersea power station. The assumption has to be that it was cheap and convenient. Much like the jibes that he threw at his contenders for electoral success. So, this might be a new society speech. But the methods are pretty traditional. As was London for a venue. Because the Lib Dems chose London for their Nick Clegg manifesto speech.
His new society speech took the theme of the “New Society.” A theme that’s been developed over several years with speeches by Oliver Letwin and Iain Duncan Smith. And, of course, the theme is always a useful way to engage an audience.
David Cameron’s inspiration is the new society but he’s not afraid to borrow from other societies. His use of “we can,” is distinctively attributed to President Obama’s successful election campaign of 2008:
“We can deal with our debts. We can mend our broken society. We can restore faith in our shattered political system.”
Thankfully he didn’t follow up with a “Yes, we can.”
He borrowed from the inauguration speech of President John Kennedy in 1961:
“As a great American President once said: ‘ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country’.”
Empire-builder Cecil Rhodes also got in on the act, though without an attribution:
“So much to do. So little time…”
Not dissimilar to many other leading politicians Mr Cameron favours the position taker as a rhetorical device. And he used these well at yesterday’s manifesto launch:
“Labour say the economy will collapse unless they keep on wasting your money.
We say: this jobs tax will kill the recovery.”
A clever use of the repetitive phrase, “Instead of…” was effective. Used five times in succession, it worked well. Here’s an example:
“Instead of the rules that stop teachers keeping order in the classroom…
…let’s give them the power to do it.”
So much to do, so little time to do it in. That’s the challenge for David Cameron’s Conservative party. This new society speech set out the scope for that challenge.
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