Wednesday, May 25, 2005

 

Tory Masters' Voices

Some research quoted in a book by former spin-doctor Brendan Bruce(Images of Power, Kogan Page 1992) suggests that the impact of what we see on the television comprises 55% how we appear, 38% how we speak and only 7% what we say. Most reactions to this tend to focus on the way politicians present themselves: Mrs Thatcher being advised to change her hair and clothes, Kinnock being dressed in blue suits and so forth. The voice aspect tends to be overlooked a little- though most politician watchers can cite Mrs Thatcher's sessions with a voice coach to lower its shrill sound.

A Norwegian friend of mine recently suggested that all the recent Conservative leaders had poor voices. Leaving aside the tutoring of Maggie, it's true that Major had strangulated vowells, Hague sounded a bit like JB Priestley on tranquilisers and IDS sounded like the junior officer lacking authority he basically was. Howard too had that unusual 'pipple' idiosyncracy and a slightly menacing sound which does not endear.

So maybe the next one will have an attractive voice. If this were criterion then George Osborne, with his public school RP and his Etonian buddy Cameron might be in trouble: they sound exactly as they are: expublic schoolboys with no empathy with the social groups the Tories must win over to regain power. Mind you, it hasn't hurt Tony Blair. Looking further back Ted Heath's voice made even John Major sound like Richard Burton and Neil Kinnock allegedly pressed the 'anti Taffy' button in too many English people. The ideal voice in politics is still awaited.

Comments:
Maybe a Scottish accent might help, although Charles Kennedy does need a voicebox transplant!!!
 
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