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  • Tweedledems Speech. Clegg Late For An Important Date?

Nick Clegg was a whole 15 minutes late for his first speech as Deputy Prime Minister. Not a good start. Apparently he’s always late. That’s something he should aim to fix now he’s in government. We note the Baroness Scotland speech, where her late arrival really did upset her hosts.But it wasn’t just his Tweedledum timekeeping that was a problem. Because he chose the City and Islington College as his venue for his first Tweedledems speech to outline his plans for the Parliament. Not Parliament itself. Note, of course that we have this Alex Salmond speech to thank for the Tweedledum allusion.

Tweedledems speech
Nick Clegg Late For His First Tweedledems Speech As Deputy PM

As a venue the College was undeniably perfect for an overview of this Government’s plans. But as an auditorium it was hopeless. Since, behind the speaker was a clear view over the adjoining street with passers-by and vehicles moving through the vision. Distracting.

Repetition In This First Tweedledems Speech In Government

However in his first Tweedledems speech as Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg made good use of repetition right from the start. A popular phrase was:

“This government is going to”

Equally, he made frequent use of the word, “new.” Again, no surprise.

Historical references to the Great Reform Act of 1832 were well used. Setting a comparison to such an important political event worked well. But, equally, the Great Reform Act didn’t enfranchise everyone. So, a lot more work had to follow.

Solid Structure Signals

The structure to this brief speech was good. Using alliteration, He noted that the Government would take three steps:

  1. Repeal
  2. Reform
  3. Rapidly re-distribute power

He then referred to each step and made sure that his audience knew which step he was talking about. Very good structure signals.

His hand movement was excitable and jabby…betraying, perhaps, an inner edginess. I sense that he could introduce more tone and fewer hand movements. Because if he can do this he will achieve a better effect.

He read well from his script. But I thought that the lectern was set too low for him. So there were some stumbles. These didn’t distract him. He kept going.

Moments for hilarity didn’t take off. A reference to 150 years of mooted reform of the House of Lords was followed with, “the time for talk is over” and then his announcement of another committee! Wonderfully poignant. Just what’s needed. A committee.

But, we did note some fine phrase reversals:

“The State has far less control over you. And you have far more control over the State.”


“We are not taking away Parliament’s right to throw out government. We are taking away government’s right to throw out Parliament.”

So, very neat.

Annoying Speech Vocabulary

His vocabulary was at times annoying. Audiences do tire of things being “brought forward.” Again and again.

I’d recommend that he try to introduce, implement, table, discuss, initiate, start, begin or kick-off some initiatives. It’s time for a change!

He handled evidence and analogies with the likes of Switzerland and the USA. Perhaps the Swiss politics analogy could be reviewed in terms of impeccable Swiss timekeeping? Just a thought.

His conclusion was brief. But he made the point: A fair society. Because that was his manifesto speech pledge.

A good first Tweedledems speech as Deputy Prime Minister…even if he was late.

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About the Author

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.

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