Do interviews ever deliver anything but bad news for politicians and boredom for audiences?

Max Atkinson

Regular readers will know that I have serious reservations about the way speeches have steadily given way to broadcast interviews as the main form of political communication in Britain (a selection of posts on which can be found at the bottom of this page). The big story was latched on to by quite a few commentators, including the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson, who noted in his blog that: “. Snakes But being interviewed is like walking a tight rope.

2010 54

What do Liberal Democrats expect from the 'return' of Dr Death (aka David Owen)?

Max Atkinson

Surprising, yes, but I don't know if 'return' is the right word for someone who left the Labour Party to form a new one (the SDP) that would be ruled by one-member-one-vote, only to ignore his own party's majority vote to merge with the Liberals in 1988. Nor do I know if Owen's 'return' will include a speech at the Liberal Democrat conference next week. But I do know that, if it does, the audience shouldn't holding its breath for an inspiring performance.

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Ed Miliband lands on a snake

Max Atkinson

as a prelude to summarising the Snakes and Ladders theory of political communication , first aired in a joint paper by John Heritage and me at a conference on the 1987 general election. The general argument was that speeches work like 'ladders' that can move politicians up towards a winning position on the board, whereas interviews work like 'snakes' that can only move them downwards (for more on which see links below).

2011 63

Boris Johnson's Sunday morning meeting with Eddie Mair

Max Atkinson

Vivid evidence of the damage a politician can do to himself was provided yesterday morning on a TV show in which interviews play a major part, and where the producers' best hope is that an interviewee will say something - or, better still, say some things - that will attract much wider media attention than the show normally enjoys. Do interviews ever deliver anything but bad news for politicians and boredom for audiences ?

2013 43

Dr Cable's 'medical' diagnosis of our economic problems

Max Atkinson

I've just been doing some homework preparing a course for some high-powered economists next week. At the heart of the brief I've been given is that they want get better at communicating complicated technical material to non-specialist audiences. And it's probably no coincidence that, unlike most of his political opponents, he's one of the ever-decreasing number of MPs who actually had a proper job outside politics before becoming a full-time politician. 'As

Politicians and broadcasters in the UK: collaboration or capitulation?

Max Atkinson

Now that the rights to my book Our Masters' Voices: the Language and Body Language of Politics (1984) have reverted to me, I'm planning to republish it with additional material on, among other things, how British political communication and media coverage of politics has changed during the past quarter of a century. It's quite a bit longer than my usual posts - so take your time and/or read it in bits. by taking to the hills to fight a guerilla war).

2011 67

Why has British political oratory been banished to the sidelines?

Max Atkinson

My recent blogpost on the decline of oratory prompted an open letter from David Murray, Editor of Vital Speeches of the Day , with three questions that I ought to have a go at answering: An Open Letter to Max Atkinson Dear Mr. Atkinson, In the latest post on your excellent blog plainly-enough named Max Atkinson’s Blog, you applaud a writer from The Independent , for echoing your long held view that, in England anyway, the once-celebrated art of oratory is going to hell in a hand basket.

2011 63