The top ten: Party conference speeches
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 06 October 2013
I have a confession to make: I didn't like any of Tony Blair's annual conference speeches (with the one exception in this list). But I didn't specify leaders' speeches in my request for suggestions, so I have included notable oratory from would-be leaders, a deputy leader and even, in Bill Clinton's case, a visitor.
1. Hugh Gaitskell, 1960 "There are some of us who will fight, and fight, and fight again, to save the party we love."
2. David Cameron, 2005 Blew away leadership rival David Davis with a "walk and talk".
3. Norman Tebbit, 1981 On his unemployed father: "He didn't riot; he got on his bike and looked for work."
4. Tony Blair, 2006 "At least I don't have to worry about her running off with the bloke next door."
5. Neil Kinnock, 1985 "And you end in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council – a Labour council…"
6. Margaret Thatcher, 1984 Eleven hours after the Brighton bomb that morning. Braver than "the Lady's not for turning" in 1981.
7. Bill Clinton, 2002 "Clinton, Bill, Arkansas CLP, New Labour." Suggested by William French.
8. Michael Heseltine, 1976 "A one-legged army: Left! Left! Left!" Nominated by the Church Mouse.
9. John Prescott, 1993 Won one member, one vote for John Smith: "This man, our leader, has put his head on the block." With thanks to Ian Smart.
10. Harold Wilson, 1963 "The Britain that is going to be forged in the white heat of this revolution will be no place for restrictive practices."
Next week: Journalese (romps, tots, boffins).
Coming soon: New clichés that should be banned. "Wrap-around", "zeroise" and "embedded" have been drawn to my attention. Send your suggestions (by Tuesday 15 October), and ideas for any future Top 10s, to firstname.lastname@example.org
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