I have been thinking about THAT SPEECH by Theresa May all day today. Why?
Well, on a very personal level, first I have a cough problem. Not a “here today gone tomorrow” cough problem. I’ve had it chronically since 2009 on and off before that. I’m receiving treatment at a specialist and experimental cough clinic. I recently discovered it may go back to an industrial accident I had in 1970!
Be that as it may, I therefore have some sympathy with anyone caught out by an uncontrollable cough in public speaking situations. I have had them. I have had lectures where I’ve collapsed into fits of coughing so alarming the students got worried I was about to expire. I have had to leave meetings. I have had to decline live radio and TV on days when I knew I was at risk.
So, I understand.
Which is why I am totally and utterly dumfounded by the sycophantic drivel being spouted about “poor Theresa”.
Before her hugely important, make-or-break, Conference speech she did 28 media interviews and attended 19 receptions, according to Tom Newton Dun, political editor of the Sun.
She refuses to use an autocue and uses notes that force her to bob up and down looking at them, putting huge strain on her voice, according to a professional voice coach who appeared on the BBC Daily Politics.
She has had no voice training.
I don’t know, but I am guessing she had none of the medical treatments I use to mitigate my cough problem in advance of important events (including some heavy duty drugs).
In a fascinating discussion on the Daily Politics today (5 October 2017) both Labour and Tory spin-doctors confirmed how they’d lock up their Leaders prior to the big speech.
Where were May’s team? Where were they when the prankster struck with his P45 stunt?
Some have been complaining why is everyone so excited by a ‘mere’ cough problem at a Conference? The answer to that is two-fold.
The first is the context. May called an Election she did not need to and lost her majority. That looks, well, incompetent. To then have a disaster of a speech at her first Conference after that Election just magnifies her errors.
But second, and in some ways more important, it speaks to her competence more directly. She could have avoided the interviews and receptions. She could have gotten treatment before her speech. She could have had voice training. She could have used an autocue. She should have ensured she had a better team around her to manage her appearance, and her security. All of these things speak to her basic incompetence.
It is perhaps with remembering than on 12 October 1984 Margaret Thatcher gave a Conference speech at 9.30 am, just hours after she’d been in the Grand Hotel bombing by the IRA. Her friends had been killed and maimed. She was cool, calm, and authoritative.
So before you decide May’s poor performance was irrelevant, or just an accident, listen to Thatcher and May and then decide?