In November 2014, on the day that the United Kingdom Independence Party in the guise of Mark Reckless was easily gaining a parliamentary seat in a by-election at Rochester & Strood, The Cambridge Union was holding a debate under the motion,
This House Believes UKIP has been Good for British Politics
The debate was opened by Patrick O’Flynn for the proposition. He was followed by Rupert Myers for the opposition. We examined both those speeches in December, and today I want to look at a speech in proposition by Peter Bone. Between the end of Rupert Myers and the beginning of Peter Bone there are twelve minutes of floor speeches. They vary enormously, in quality of both content and delivery, and some time I look forward to examining all those.
Peter Bone begins at 37:46 and ends at 50:40.
No notes! He shoots his speech from the hip. It could be argued that he semi-wings it, but the winging happens only when answering his many interjections.
His most important contribution to the debate thus far is actually to address the motion. Neither of the previous speakers did. O’Flynn set off to do so, but tended then merely to give us an advertisement for UKIP. Myers barely pretended to address the motion, merely hurling tribal brickbats. The motion does not concern itself with whether UKIP’s policies are good or bad but whether the party’s emergence has been a healthy addition to overall political discourse. It would appear from an interjection that even when Bone has highlighted what the motion actually is Myers has not the wit to grasp the distinction.
The time slots in this debate appear to be twelve minutes. Bone receives so many interjections, only one of them remotely relevant, that sitting down, getting up again and answering the points consumes so many minutes that he receives time warnings when he has been actually speaking for a fraction of his allotted span. But that is the nature of the game, and he remains courteous and good humoured.
He made his point and drew attention to the actual motion, but I fear most of the audience were too focused on straw men to understand.