Danny Alexander’s speech to Lib Dem conference. (AKA: we need to move beyond lists of achievements.)

by Stephen Tall on March 9, 2014

If you missed it yesterday, you can catch up on Danny Alexander’s speech to the Lib Dem spring conference below. Listening to it, and trying to gauge the reaction of the audience of fellow Lib Dems, a couple of things struck me.

First, Danny has definitely improved as a public speaker. After almost four years in the cabinet as chief secretary to the treasury, he’s much more confident. Perhaps his best line yesterday was when he fended off Tory attempts to steal the credit for the Lib Dems’ tax-cuts for low-earners by saying, “There’s a big difference between doing something because you have to and doing something because you want to. They had to because we wanted to.”

Secondly, that improvement in Danny’s speaking only goes so far. Too much of the speech sounded like read-out versions of the e-mailed lists of Lib Dem achievements party members regularly receive. That’s fine in an email and we all need to have some handy facts to back up our doorstep conversations. But a speech needs also to tell a story, to engage. Can’t say Danny’s did it for me. Am I being too harsh? Well, judge for yourselves below…

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.