The Top Ten: Big speeches that flopped

From Benjamin Disraeli's first speech in the Commons to Ed Miliband's Labour conference speech...

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Indy Politics

This list was David Boothroyd's idea, inspired by Tony Blair's 1990 Labour conference speech as shadow employment secretary, when he misplaced a page of his text and looked 'desperately lost'

1. Benjamin Disraeli

First speech in the Commons, 1837. "I will sit down now, but the time will come when you will hear me." Thanks to David Boothroyd.

2. Neil Kinnock

Commons speech on Westland, 1986, which failed to wound Margaret Thatcher let alone bring her down, although she had misled the House.

3. Bill Clinton

Nominating Michael Dukakis at 1988 Democratic convention. Supposed chance for young unknown to shine, but half-an-hour later, "In closing…" prompted sarcastic cheers.

4. Nicolae Ceausescu

Balcony oration, from which he was eventually hustled by a guard, 1989, "wasn't 100 per cent a winner", says Issy Flamel.

5. Michael Portillo

Defence Secretary's "Who dares wins" speech to Tory party conference, 1995. "Ill-judged," he admitted later.

6. Tony Blair

Slow-clapped at the Women's Institute, 2000. He turned helplessly to the chair, hoping she might rescue him. Thumbs down from Toby Brown.

7. Iain Duncan Smith

Tory conference speech, 2003. "The quiet man is here to stay, and he's turning up the volume": 17 standing ovations and two weeks later he was gone, note David Outterside and Toby Brown.

8. David Davis

Leadership campaign speech, Tory conference, 2005. "Lacklustre", the day after David Cameron's sparkling no-notes performance. Nominated by Oliver Kamm.

9. Ed Balls

Red-faced response to George Osborne's 2013 Autumn Statement. From Tim Macgregor.

10. Ed Miliband

Labour conference speech, 2014, delivered from memory, but forgot sections on immigration and the deficit. Nominated by David D (not M).

Next week: Backronyms (such as Ash, Action on Smoking and Health)

Coming soon: Last words.Send your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to