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Clare Foges is now the Prime Minister's speechwriter and is profiled in today's Daily Mail. She was a Conservative researcher and activist when this article lamenting the death of
passionate political oratory was first published on this site in 2007.
Friends, Readers, Conservatives: oratory is dying.
Rhetoric is always in decline; the Romans feared it had died with Cicero. But it is undeniable that in recent history we have witnessed a slow sterilisation of public debate which is impoverishing politics and perhaps endangering democracy itself.
Nearly thirty years ago Margaret Thatcher boldly launched her premiership with a quote from St Francis of Assisi: ‘Where there is discord, may we bring harmony; where there is error, may we bring truth; where there is doubt, may we bring faith; and where there is despair, may we bring hope.’ It was an elevated allusion for an important occasion, grand words to portend great change. Our new Prime Minister’s first speech was rather more prosaic; a dull catalogue of platitudes delivered with auto-pilot gravity. Likewise, at the despatch box he seems to be channelling his father at the Presbyterian pulpit rather than galvanising his government for the ‘great change’ he keeps talking about.