A speech by Chris Huhne, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, grabbed some attention at the Liberal Democrats conference in Birmingham today.
At issue was his choice of language. The language that he used to describe his bed-fellows in government, the Tories:
Let that be a warning to the Conservative right here: we need no Tea Party Tendency in Britain.
I can’t imagine that anyone will be at all offended by that remark coming from the Westminster School educated son of a prominent businessman. Not at all. They know it’s a marriage of convenience.
Of more concern, however might be his understanding of Republicanism and the Tea Party movement in the USA. Here his remarks don’t bode well for someone in a senior government post:
The danger if you don’t compromise is now clear from America.
There the markets looked over the brink when the mad-cap Republican right in Congress would not compromise with the President.
I’m sure that these comments might well re-surface when his department needs some co-operation from Congress in the next round of climate change talks.
Beyond that his conference speech worked well. It was on the lengthy side but he provided a good flow and logic.
His introduction involved a statement of intent followed by a rhetorical question that he then set out to answer. A neat introduction.
He favours short non-sentences just like his Party Leader, Nick Clegg. We were treated to:
As always during hard times, every other issue pales into insignificance besides the big issues of earning your living.
Keeping your job.
Making ends meet.
Sometimes these non-sentences followed in good order. On other occasions they didn’t. Was this a listing technique that simply ran away from itself?
Onshore wind farms that are now the cheapest form of renewable electricity.
Offshore wind farms that are setting the standard for the world.
New jobs in heating, where our Renewable Heat Incentive is a world-beating first.
Non-sentences or lists featured heavily in the speech. In the main they worked, but sometime the non-sequiturs grated.
He made good use of other forms of speech rhetoric. We heard some repetition, often in a listing fashion:
When people ask where is the demand coming from to power the economic recovery, tell them its clean energy.
It’s energy saving.
It’s low carbon transport.
It’s the new green industrial revolution.
A climate change position-taker was constructed very slowly and deliberately…
Now, some people argue that we should not be pushing low carbon business, because no-one else is….Covering 40 per cent of the Chinese population with low carbon economy zones. If that’s doing nothing, then climate sceptics have a weird idea of zero.
His speech included some fine contrasting phrases.
Now we are helping the poor where Labour flannelled.
We are acting where Labour talked.
We are delivering where Labour failed.
His speech might come back to haunt him for some of the colourful language used to describe his Tory party government bed-fellows and elected members of the US Congress, but this speech worked.
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+