David Davis – devastatingly businesslike.

The Oxford Union held a debate on the motion “This House Has No Confidence in Her Britannic Majesty’s Police Force“. It is by any measure a sensitive subject so I intend to cover four of the speeches in the debate.

I have already examined speeches by Anthony Stansfeld, and Graham Stringer MP. I shall be covering one by Damian Green MP, but today it is the turn of David Davis MP.

In previous postings we have seen Davis enjoying this debate, chortling like a schoolboy at quips from other speakers, but now that he is on his feet he is immediately businesslike. Yes there are a couple of lighter sentences to settle the audience, but he hastens to cut to the chase.

He goes for the data. He reels off case after case where police officers at all levels of seniority have been either on the take or covering for colleagues that were. He reveals an alarming amount of corruption; and his having been Shadow Home Secretary I am inclined to assume that he has had access to all the necessary evidence. If I might reveal my own prejudice I am also inclined to believe him because his position on a range of issues, from civil liberties, supremacy of parliament, etc. paints him in my eyes as one of the good guys. He’s a blower-away of bullshit. Yes, politically I am a fan. Oh how I wish he’d won in 2005!

He engages the audience very effectively, not least because he looks at them. He is shooting from the hip almost entirely. Yes he has papers on the despatch box, but he glances only very occasionally for guidance. You can tell how effectively he engages the audience even with your eyes closed – perhaps better with your eyes closed. Listen for coughing: listen for any indications of restlessness: you listen in vain. He has that audience where he wants it.

He uses his hands and face very well, mainly because their use is entirely unconscious and driven by his well-harnessed message. He is in the driving seat, his engine is passion, the steering wheel is his structure, the brakes are his self-discipline. It’s a devastatingly businesslike formula.

Graham Stringer: apologetically formidable

The Oxford Union held a debate on the motion “This House Has No Confidence in Her Britannic Majesty’s Police Force“. It is by any measure a sensitive subject so I intend to cover four of the speeches in the debate.

I have already examined a speech by Anthony Stansfeld, and I shall be covering one by Damian Green MP both in opposition. The proposition speeches were from Graham Stringer MP and David Davis MP, and today we examine the former.

My word, but that’s a very clever opening! He immediately conveys sorrow that he finds himself on this side of the debate. He takes no satisfaction in criticizing the police force. Also he tells us that he had expected to be debating with the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester who has failed to appear – perhaps because he is currently under criminal investigation. In the process of telling us this he has also added the ethos that he is a Member of Parliament for Manchester.

I have watched this opening several times and am convinced that he is sincere. If not this would have been not just very clever but desperately devious, because his case is virtually home and dry in less than two minutes. Nevertheless he hastens to tell us that this is not the main burden of his argument. That comes perilously close to paralipsis, and less than a minute later there’s an example that comes even closer.

Graham Stringer is a formidable debater. His apologetic demeanour camouflages great skill.

He proceeds to recount some very telling, Manchester-based, examples of appalling police negligence. He gets quite impassioned during this process, so much so that words tumble over themselves and certain sentences come out wrong. It doesn’t matter: these are Neil Armstrong moments that illustrate the strength of his feeling.

He closes with a reiteration of his sadness to be criticizing a force that contains so many fine and conscientious officers. I sense the audience with him all the way. He is good.


P.S. Stringer told us that one of his opponents had failed to show up, yet the opposition had the full complement of speakers. That possibly explains Sam Barker. Barker had puzzled me. He is young, possibly still a student, and all the signs are that he is prodigiously talented as a speaker. He has good stage presence, yet his speech, despite being quite skillfully fashioned, is pretty hollow. It has a Face, “Who do you call?”  but not much else. Could it be that he has stepped in at the last minute to fill the gap has thrown a speech together largely in his head and shot it from the hip? David Davis obviously enjoys the effort, and is right to do so.

Sam Barker: remember the name. I am sure we are going to come across it in future.