Brian Edwards

How to speak like a politician

Politico has a good article that analyses and teaches you how to speak like a politician.

Complaints about political language are hardly new. In a famous 1946 essay, George Orwell groused that it “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” But if anything, doubletalk and weasel words proliferate now more than ever. They’re a manifestation of both parties’ desires to doggedly stay on message amid a rapacious 24-7 news cycle and the compulsion of some politicians to pass judgment—on Twitter, on TV or in Politico—on most of the issues that surface during it.

In doing research for our new book on political rhetoric, we came across five general categories of Washington-speak—the devices that today’s politicians use in their never-ending quests to one-up each other while, at the same time, appearing spontaneous—and productive—to voters. Here’s what you need to know to keep up with the best of them—if that’s what you want to do.

Once you notice these you will be better armed at detecting bull ordure.

1. The polite knife in the back. Politicians like to be liked. So even when sticking it to an opponent, they have an incentive to stay positive. Even casual C-SPAN viewers will recognize the most common forms of this passive-aggressive approach.

Take “my good friend”—politician-speak for somebody he or she often can’t stand. “My good friend” is most commonly used on the House or Senate floors when addressing a colleague. Usually it’s a thinly veiled way of showing contempt for the other lawmaker while adhering to congressional rules of decorum. When Democratic Rep. Gene Green of Texas first arrived on Capitol Hill in the early 1990s, he recalled, “The joke we had was, when someone calls you their good friend, look behind you. I try not to say it unless people really are my good friends.’”   Read more »

The post from The Standard that Labour doesn’t want you to see

Lyn Prentice from The Standard likes to go on about how independent the authors are, how no one tells them what to do or say, and since the election has been gobbing off repeatedly along those lines.

Then yesterday he wrote a post attacking Clayton Cosgrove.

In the afternoon however the post disappeared, and this message popped up on The Standard.

standard message

So, after telling us how all independent they are they get a message from Tim Barnett to take the post down, and incredibly they then do so.

I have had, over the years, many requests from the hierarchy of the National party requests to take posts down, or instructions to stop bashing people, like Peter Goodfellow, and all those requests were met with a polite “Get stuffed”. If they pushed the issue then it go a stronger response along the lines of “Go f*ck yourself”.

Yet here we have a supposedly independent blog and author taking orders from the Labour party hierarchy.

Word from my Labour sources, both inside Fraser House and labour’s caucus is that Barnett and Moira Coatsworth are trying to hose down the animosity and open warfare and so are strong arming people to shut up, or remove posts like the one that has disappeared from The Standard.

Unfortunately for the world’s greatest sysop this is the internet…and nothing is gone even when you delete it.

So as a public service and as a matter of public interest in trying to understand why the Labour party is successfully censoring The Standard, here is the text of the post that the Labour party is trying to quietly bury.    Read more »

Brian Edwards on The Cunliffe – Bad reviews and a short season

My good friend Brian Edwards is not impressed with David Cunliffe and his latest performances.

To be absolutely fair to David  Cunliffe, I should perhaps add that, like all senior politicians, he has on his team people whose job it is to advise him on media issues, to analyse and comment on his radio and television appearances and to prepare him for upcoming interviews and debates, possibly by workshopping those exchanges. Their job is not to ra-ra their employer’s efforts but to be brutally frank in critically analysing his performance.

The blame for Cunliffe’s misguided and vote-losing approach to his exchanges with the Prime Minister during the last election and particularly his final televised debate with John Key on TV One, must be proportionally shared with those advisers.

I feel sorry for the advisors, because I suspect that David Cunliffe doesn’t take coaching at all well, and when he consults his mirror he gets conflicting advice.

The best television interviews look like chats. The tone is relaxed, the language informal, the posture forward, demonstrating interest and keenness. In last night’s interview with Campbell, Cunliffe’s tone is defensive and overbearing, his language formal and high-flown, his posture rigidly erect. His replies are repetitive and little more than a series of mini-speeches. He is talking at rather than to Campbell and the interviewer’s impatience and frustration become increasingly evident during the discussion. At one point Campbell accuses the former Labour Leader of being disingenuous.   Read more »

How about all those game changers, eh?

During the last parliamentary term we were all told repeatedly that this policy or that person was a “game changer”.

How did those game changers all work out?

Chris Trotter thought Matt McCarten was a game changer:

These are the stakes the Left is playing for – and they could not be higher. If progressive New Zealand rallies to Cunliffe’s and McCarten’s bright-red banner and helps them convince Middle New Zealand that Labourism, far from being an alien and dangerous creed, actually stands for all that is best in this nation, then it will have won an historic and lasting victory. But if it fails to seize the opportunity it has been given, then all that is worth fighting for on the Left will go down to defeat and New Zealand will be National’s for the foreseeable future.

Now IS the time for all good comrades to come to the aid of the party. Because, whichever way it turns out, the appointment of Matt McCarten is bound to be a game-changer.

Chris Trotter was very prescient in that post, he also predicted disaster.

[T]he Left has been given an extraordinary opportunity to prove that it still has something to offer New Zealand, but a desperately short period of time in which to do it. If old wounds, old grudges, old defeats (are you listening Jim?) are allowed to get in the way of making this unprecedented situation work to the advantage of ordinary New Zealanders, then it will end in failure.

And that failure won’t just be Cunliffe’s and McCarten’s, it will be the failure of the entire progressive movement. And it won’t just be for a triennium (or three) it will be for an entire generation.

If Cunliffe and McCarten are allowed to fail, the Right of the Labour Party and their fellow travellers in the broader labour movement (all the people who worked so hard to prevent Cunliffe rising to the leadership) will say:

“Well, you got your wish. You elected a leader pledged to take Labour to the Left. And just look what happened. Middle New Zealand ran screaming into the arms of John Key and Labour ended up with a Party Vote even more pitiful than National’s in 2002! So don’t you dare try peddling that ‘If we build a left-wing Labour Party they will come’ line ever again! You did – and they didn’t.”

Be in no doubt that this will happen – just as it did in the years after the British Labour Party’s crushing defeat in the general election of 1983. The Labour Right called Labour’s socialist manifesto “the longest suicide note in history” and the long-march towards Blairism and the re-writing of Clause Four began. (Never mind the impact of Maggie Thatcher’s unlikely victory in the South Atlantic, it was Michael Foot’s socialism wot won it for the Tories!)

Plenty of others thought Matt McCarten was a game changer…they just didn’t realise he wasn’t working for Labour. He certainly was a game changer…for National.    Read more »

Josie Pagani: Stop spinning tonight’s debate

I’m not sure attempts to spin expectations around tonight’s leaders’ debate are credible.

Take the people saying ‘all David Cunliffe has to do is draw’. Unfortunately, last year David Cunliffe’s supporters in the leadership contest argued he should lead the party because of his superior debating skills.

Here’s Martyn Bradbury from the Daily Blog in the NZ Herald in June of this year:

“Cunliffe’s performance in the debates and on the campaign trail will be one of the most convincing components of a Labour-led win.”

Martyn Bradbury no less.  Wow.

David Cunliffe was widely praised for his skills as an effective debater and his presence on TV.

A Standard blogger talked him up as ‘Labour’s best performer’

“…. in the House and on television: just the tough, well-prepared and clear speaker that is needed to front against John Key in the next election.

More recently, when polls started to drop, the spin was, ‘Don’t worry, just wait for the debates. That’s when Labour will turn the polls around.’

Well, one thing is sure:  It’s all on David Cunliffe tonight.  Because the polls need to stop plummeting before they can be turned around.

Here’s Brian Edwards, a David Cunliffe supporter, in 2013:

“Cunliffe may or may not be nice, but he is hugely experienced, has an in-depth understanding of policy, conveys confidence and authority, handles the media superbly and can make mincemeat of anyone on the other side of the House.”

My good friend Brian has stopped writing of late.  I must dig up one of his last posts again – it was a great piece of comedy, although I’m not sure he meant it that way at the time.

Stop spinning. Just let the debate run. We know John Key is a formidable debater – he performed strongly in 2008 and 2011. There will be two quality and skilled debaters on stage. The job is not to find a ‘winner.’ Its for voters to learn more about how they want their country governed.

 

– Pundit

Hide: “…the experts know nothing about politics”

Rodney Hide explains how it is that the supposed experts actually know nothing about politics…and uses my good friend Brian Edwards as an example.

The wonderful thing about politics is that no one knows what they are talking about. There are no experts. There are no laws of political motion. Political science is oxymoronic.

Let me illustrate how little we know by picking on our most qualified and experienced political commentator. He has a PhD, has interviewed and known political leaders for five decades, has been an adviser to four prime ministers, has spent a lifetime in all branches of the media and makes a living media training business leaders and other professionals. He has also stood for Parliament and is no sideline Sam. He knows politics, inside and out. His knowledge, history and hands-on experience dwarfs all other political commentators.

I refer, of course, to Dr Brian Edwards. I single him out because of his eminence.

Oh dear this is sounding ominous.

Here’s what he had to say last year when David Cunliffe took over the Labour leadership:

“David Cunliffe has a brilliant mind, is a brilliant speaker and debater and there is no politician to match him on the box. Cunliffe is the game-changer.

“And the proof of the pudding will lie where it has always lain – in the polls. And particularly in the Preferred Prime Minister poll. No party leader permanently registering under 15% in that poll, let alone dipping into single figures, can hope to enjoy the (© Copyright Protected – The National Business Review 76)confidence of the electorate or lead their party to victory. And that has been the situation for every Labour Leader since 2008.

“But all that changed today as well. Under Cunliffe’s leadership, his and Labour’s poll rating will begin to rise, slowly but inexorably.”

Mr Cunliffe has proved a game changer but directly opposite to what Dr Edwards foresaw: Mr Cunliffe has doomed Labour.

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Brian Edwards on “why John Key’s days are numbered”

And the proof of the pudding will lie where it has always lain – in the polls. And particularly in the Preferred Prime Minister poll. No party leader permanently registering under 15% in that poll, let alone dipping into single figures, can hope to enjoy the confidence of the electorate or lead their party to victory. And that has been the situation for every Labour Leader since 2008.

My dear friend Dr Brian Edwards is right of course.

More from his September 2013 piece

I hadn’t intended to do anything more on this mini-post than congratulate David [Cunliffe] and [his wife] Karen. But I’ve decided to stick my neck out and make a prediction. I predict that a Labour/Greens coalition will win the 2014 election and that David Cunliffe will be New Zealand’s next Prime Minister. Labour might even go it alone.

To think my dear friend Brian was paid to advise Helen Clark.  You have to wonder who got the better end of that deal?

Now, as it happens, I don’t think John Key is a particularly good communicator at all. 

Keep ‘em coming Brian, you’re on fire.

But  today the picture changed. John Key has some real opposition. David Cunliffe has a brilliant mind, is a brilliant speaker and debater and there is no politician to match him on the box.

Get ready for it….

 

Cunliffe is the game-changer.

BOOM!

 

snapper

 

H/T Lion_ess

 

Brian Edwards on Shane Taurima, Linda Clark and Conflicts of Interest

My good friend Brian Edwards has this to say about Shane Taurima and his actual conflict of interest:

There was nothing terribly complex about Shane Taurima’s situation with regard to his job as Head of TVNZ’s  Maori and Pacifica Department once he had, albeit unsuccessfully,  sought the Labour Party nomination for the Rawhiti Ikaroa seat following the death of Parekura Horomia. Taurima had very publicly nailed his political colours to the mast. In doing so he had effectively disbarred himself from any further involvement in News or Current Affairs broadcasting with the state broadcaster. The potential conflict of interest could not have been more clear.

Television New Zealand apparently did not see it that way. Perhaps they thought that Taurima’s failure to actually win the nomination made all the difference. He had been a would-be Labour candidate, not an actual Labour candidate.  (And, as it turned out, would be again.) That rationalisation is so facile as to be laughable. Taurima was politically tainted. He should not have been re-employed in his previous role. But he was.

When he took things even further and  turned his TVNZ office into a Maori/Pacifica Labour Party branch, Taurima did his employer a favour.  Without actually hanging portraits of Savage, Fraser and Kirk on the walls, the conflict of interest in which he and others in his department now found themselves could not have been more patent. To his credit, Taurima had the grace and good sense to resign.

He resigned because the case was so clear cut there was no other option. Unfortunately for Shane Taurima he thought Labour would stand by their electorate chair, instead they have given him the cold-face and turned their back.

There is actually nothing new about all of this. The list of television and radio  broadcasters working in news and current affairs who are or have been simultaneously engaged in activities which conflict with their obligation to be and be seen to be utterly impartial in all matters relating to their jobs, is extremely long. They may well be in the majority. Conflicts of interest among such practitioners abound.

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This is not journalism, it is grandstanding

paddy

Disgraceful “journalist” Patrick Gower

I have had reported to me the outrageous, aggressive behaviour of Patrick Gower from 3News at the stand up of Maurice Williamson.

I didn’t see the video, but Fairfax have helpfully published a transcript. This has got to be one of the most outrageous, shabby, poorly behaved journalist I have ever seen.

And the mainstream media has the temerity to scoff at my abilities. Gower asks questions and then answers them in the same breath. The innuendo is disgraceful. I think it might be time for some other media organisations to start holding some of these reporters to account themselves.

If you thought Patrick Gower’s ransacking of the Oravida offices was distasteful then cop a load of this.

Reporter: “Have you called up about a guy on charges?

Williamson: “I don’t know whether I could answer that.”

Reporter: “Well, have you done it before?”

Williamson: “Well Paddy, I can’t remember every call I’ve made over the last 27 years.”

Reporter: “Because you haven’t, have you. You’ve given this guy special treatment, he’s not even one of your constituents.”

Williamson: “How do you know that?”

Reporter: “You rang one of the most senior police officers.”

Williamson: “How do you know that?”

Reporter: “About this guy’s case.”

Williamson: “John Tims has a regular dialogue with MPs in the electorate, we go out and meet with him.”

Reporter: About people’s cases?

Williamson: “No no, we go out and talk with him.”

Reporter: “No, he doesn’t, tell the truth, tell the truth. You gave special treatment to a donor to the National Party.”

Williamson: “No, I didn’t give special treatment.” Reporter: “Yes, you did.”

Williamson: “If it had been anybody else.”

Reporter: “You’ve never done it before in your career.”

Williamson: “Well, I’m sorry, I don’t actually think you know that.”    Read more »

No Brian, Jones won’t be PM

Just four days ago Brian Edwards was pondering whether or not Shane Jones would become NZs first Maori PM.

… as I watched and re-watched this speech, I thought I could perhaps see a future Leader of the Opposition and a Prime Minister to boot.

Well, the answer for Brian Edwards is a resounding no, not ever, as Shane Jones dropped his bombshell that he is leaving the sinking ship that is the David Cunliffe led Labour party.

Watch Labour go feral on him…They won’t be able to resist going nasty. The hate National for sure but they hate turn coats even more.

Shane Jones knows where all the bodies are buried and as Labour turns feral on him he will unload as a favour to the guys who gave him a lifeboat.

Labour is shellshocked. Neither David Cunliffe or David Parker fronted last night as the carnage unfolded. Moira Coatsworth simply mumbled inanities to the media and the left wing blogosphere went into ostrich mode.

When I made my comments about Shane Jones on The Huddle last night, about being the most effective MP for Labour this year just before 6pm little did I know what was about to unfold. Labour has lost their best performing MP now, the only MP currently that resonated with working NZ and was addressing important issues that were important to voters.

Steven Joyce was sledging but he was accurate when he tweeted:

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