The GuardianThe Guardian

Lend me your ears! The art of political speechwriting

By Andrew Anthony

26 Sep 2022 · 10 min read

Even her fiercest supporters would acknowledge that one aspect of the new prime minister Liz Truss’s political skillset that requires urgent improvement is that of communication. She wasn’t called upon to put it to the test in winning the Conservative leadership contest, where she only had to demonstrate that she was not Rishi Sunak and avoid any challenging media interviews. But from now on she has to speak for, and most importantly to, the nation at large.

One way that politicians attempt to look as if they know what they’re talking about is by delivering a set-piece speech. If her speeches on the leadership hustings are anything to go by, Truss, who came across as if she was running for the sixth-form prefect’s office, is no Winston Churchill. She’s not even her idol, Margaret Thatcher, or indeed David Cameron, who famously won the Conservative party leadership on the strength of a speech.

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