Drifted down to the coast today, to the admirable town of Bournemouth, and happened upon both young Mr David Cameron and young Mr Nick Clegg addressing municipal representatives.
Mr Cameron has the charm and wit one would expect of an aspiring Disraeli and rather like Mr Disraeli, lacked substance when exposed to rigorous questioning. However he makes some useful points and offers some hope should great men of good will be required to cooperate after the next election.
My hearing is not what it was but I believe he stated that some 287 pieces of socialist legislation since 1997 have sought to regulate and control the Town Halls. His promise to remove many is welcome.
But there are substantial matters to be considered to revive local government; and Mr Cameron was loath to discuss them. While Parliament continues to raise excessive amounts of tax and dispense it to municipalities, they will always be in thrall to Whitehall.
Mr Clegg therefore offered the better proposition: that municipalities should raise 75 per cent of their revenue rather than a paltry 25 per cent as at present.
Sadly he offered his proposition in such tones that his audience was unlikely to warm to the proposition. Indeed it was said I held my position and respect by my power to command audiences. I am thus willing to offer my services to young Mr Clegg to assist him in developing his oratorical skills; indeed I will do it without requiring him to learn the great Greek and Latin orators.
A leader should never read his speech and , if he does, he should ensure that his audience cannot tell his doing so. To hear a leader stumble over words he has misread and then repeat those same words without emphasis or embroidery is a distressing experience indeed. A mistake such as "Gordon's brown aim" can be turned to merriment, but not when you act the pedant and rush to correct it to "Gordon Brown's aim".
A great orator holds his words in his head and spends time preparing his phrases, planning his delivery. I always found that walking to the station, chopping trees or walking the streets of the Capital enabled me to consider my words and prepare for great occasions. I hear that statesmen of this age sometimes employ hacks to compose their words for them. Such scribes should never be allowed to dictate one's every word.
I am sure this young man can be allowed to take time to polish his skills. His coterie must allow him this time. Indeed I hear this is not an unusual procedure and that some 30 years ago similar tuition was offered to the woman who became the nation's first female Prime Minister.
This was a sorry business since Mr Clegg offered both announcements of substance and further insights into the ludicrous nature of this government. He tells me it has appointed "ministers for the regions" who neither answer to Parliament nor to municipalities. Nor do they propose policy or handle budgets. These sops, it seems, these bags of wind will cost the public purse some two million pounds by the time they are evicted in an election.
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