Chris Trotter has gone from writing off Labour to pleading that someone, anyone, helps David Cunliffe find his political voice.
The political voice he uses now is different depending on the audience he is speaking ot. On radio he lowers his voice and appears conciliatory, yet promising or saying nothing. It is literally boring. You can hear that he has dropped what there is of his chin onto his chest and is looking down as he speaks…nodding at the phone as he speaks…close your eyes next time he is on radio and remove all distraction and see if I am right.
His stand up voice is smug and smarmy, he again drops his chin, but not as much and talks down, imperiously to journalists, but usually over their heads to someone else, though there is no one else there. Again his body language is all skew whiff, nodding when he should b shaking his head, shaking his head when he should be nodding, and he has this disastrous quirk where he tilts his head on its side in an attempt to make his mouth seems straight but only serves to give the impression he is sneaky and lying….which he probably is.
His final voice is the his Avondale market voice which is a toffs version of bro-speak, interspersed with little snippets of Maori to impress the natives. It is as fake as his CV.
So which voice is it that Trotter wants to hear?
DAVID CUNLIFFEâs biggest problem is his voice. Not his actual voice, which is fine, but his political voice: the way he is heard by the voting public. Itâs a problem because the one heâs using at the moment isnât working. It doesnât ring true. And until it does heâs not going to be able to engage with the people he needs to make him Prime Minister.
Now, donât get me wrong. Iâm not saying that Cunliffe is a fake. One-on-one, eyeball-to-eyeball, in small groups, he can be utterly transfixing. In the discussions Iâve had recently about the Labour leaderâs âvoiceâ problem, this ability to inspire has been attested to over and over again. And I know itâs true because Iâve felt it myself. When Cunliffe fixes his eyes on you and speaks about the things that matter â both to him and to you â he can be utterly compelling.
Unfortunately, all that communicative power and authority is lost whenever Cunliffe is required to address a hostile and/or sceptical audience â most particularly the news media. At these moments he becomes the political equivalent of Iron Man. In the blink of an eye the high-tech suit of armour snaps shut around the vulnerable person inside and his communication, while factual and fluent, loses all colour, all life. It becomes, in a word, robotic.Â Read more »