A blinder of a speech

This speech is pure gold; the work of an artist. Never mind the politics!

Saw your thread and even before opening it I said to myself: “I bet that’s about William Hague”. I heard it on the radio yesterday. Brilliant stuff.

Though I do not agree with his politics, I absolutely agree about his speechmaking. He is superb; one of the great orators of our generation, with the timing of a standup comedian. His performance at PMQs was usually brilliant even when he was losing control of the Conservative party.

He’s a boon to democracy, and on that evidence, he’s now the confidence of years of experience too: a master at the top of his game. Bravo.

Agreed absolutely.

Bumpety bump.

Could the Europeans and Brits give us ignernt Amurickans a hint at why the funny bits are funny? (Sincere question. It was a sort of laugh at the laughter experience for me, and I have no idea why it’s funny, though I’m convinced it is.)

The speech is anti-the EU constitution (now downgraded to a treaty). The conceit is that Hague ignores the effect on the country, but personalises the effect of the treaty on Gordon Brown, particularly with relation to Tony Blair, utilising Brown’s human foibles.


  1. The amount of time the current PM Brown had to wait to hold the post is in reference to the agreement of succession held between Blair and Brown, who ended up having a much-rumored falling-out because Blair wouldn’t go when they’d agreed.

  2. Blair wishing for permanent presidency of the European Council being viewed askance in Downing Street is a reference to the above.

  3. “On manoeuvres” - Blair is politically dangerous and bellicose, and will be angling himself to get into the position.

  4. He imagines the “look of utter gloom” as Brown has to accede to Blair’s presidency and the “nauseating, glutinous praise oozing from every head of government” towards Blair that Brown will have to listen to.

  5. “Never would he regret more no longer being in possession of a veto” - lovely deliberate use of a double-negative. The new treaty removes the single-country veto in favour of state-majority quorum - thus by signing the treaty, Brown would have voted himself out of vetoing Blair.

  6. One of the best (and nastiest) bits of the speech: Mr Brown has a facial tic, whereby after every spoken phrase, his jaw drops back an inch or so. It’s not tremendously noticeable, but once you’ve seen it happen a couple of times it sticks out a mile. Hague twists the meaning of “dropped jaw” to be about surprise: “almost hitting the table”.

  7. Then he imagines Blair, as President of the EC, making a state visit in his cavalcade, upstaging a fuming and uncomfortable Brown. The reference to “bitten nails”: Brown also bites his nails very badly.

  8. “A smile of intolerable anguish” - great use of oxymoron, and he imagines Brown choking as he is forced to call Blair “Mr President”.

  9. Hague then brings the vision full-circle, and imagines Brown begging Blair for the Presidency (going back to point 1 about the Prime Ministership).

Brown’s jaw.

Worth the bump! It’s no wonder he was making a fortune as an after dinner speaker before he rejoined the Shadow Cabinet.

By the way, what do the American Dopers make of the guffawing Tory audience - would you get something like this in Congress?

Note also that one of the people who’s laughing hardest, is David Milliband, who’s in Brown’s Cabinet!

Thanks for those explanations, jjimm. I rewatched, and this time laughed along with others. :smiley:

That was class.

Shame he’s mainly reading, but it’s a fine speech. Laughs aside, he makes important constitutional points. I know Hague was touted as a great young talent before his (doomed) leadership, but this is the first time I’ve seen evidence of it.