Over the past few weeks we have examined several speeches by a range of different people at a series of conferences around the UK, chiefly I think at universities, all of them examining the relationship between Britain and the EU and all of them hosted by Daniel Hannan. Though he has been on the blog very many times I think we ought now to hear from the host himself.
This will draw to a close – at least for the time being – my visits to these conferences. Though the subject matter involves actually escaping from a protectionist cabal, masquerading as a continent, it is by definition Eurocentric, therefore parochial; and I like wherever possible to look outwards with this blog.
You can tell from Hannan’s first few words that this speech follows that of Frederick Forsyth whose speech we explored on 18 December.
I don’t intend to revisit my quibble concerning his diction. I did that enough here. Nor will I bang on again about how he should loosen up a little. In fact, though there are still slight signs of my former concern, it is largely eradicated; and here he is much looser than he can be. I wouldn’t dream of claiming credit for either because I wouldn’t believe the claim myself, and anyway that is not what matters. What matters is that Hannan was always extremely good (which is why I got so picky) and here he is downright phenomenal. This is a brilliant piece of speaking.
It is not just the delivery, but also the construction. He starts by appearing almost to insult the audience, but not actually doing so – a great way to grab attention. And he uses that to catapult himself into a lengthy and very clever paralipsis.
He wants to make this speech upbeat. I’ve seen him make this point before about how British exit from the EU too often is couched in negative terms. It is not difficult to criticise the EU, but he wants to speak optimistically about the bright sunlight awaiting Britain outside.
And that’s what he does. Stunningly well. He weaves myriad facets of life both in and out of the EU into an irresistible tapestry. It is extremely seductive – but then, Brexit always seems to be. He even explodes the dreary status quo myth. You would really have to hate this country not to be swayed.
For fairness and balance I should post more speeches in favour of remaining in the EU, and I’ve managed to cover two; but neither did their cause any favours so that hardly constituted balance. I shall keep searching.
From my next posting I shall begin serialising speeches from an international conference, dealing with a somewhat international issue.
No, not climate change.