Political speeches make news, for their content, for their delivery, and for their significance. (Did you notice my rhetorical trio there? Tony Blair would be proud.)
The art of rhetoric — the use of language as a means to persuade — has been studied and prized for over 2,000 years. A talent for oration can be the key to political success (Barack Obama): a lack of the skill of public communication could spell disaster (Gordon Brown?).
This week’s New Statesman features an essay on the art of political speechwriting in modern times on both sides of the Atlantic. What does the process entail, and how has it survived in the era of spin?
To complement that magazine treat, we’ve put together a special online package of our favourite political speeches made by British politicians since 1945. Wherever possible, we’ve included audio and video clips, or links to recordings.
These are our choices:
But what have we left out? Aneurin Bevan on the NHS? Margaret Thatcher proclaiming “No, no, no”? Keith Joseph on inflation in 1974? (NB: That was another rhetorical trio, with some casual rhetorical questions thrown in. Watch and learn.) You tell us. And enjoy.