Last week I was invited to the CBI annual dinner where the guest speaker was Gordon Brown, soon to be Prime Minister. I hadn't seen him 'live' before and it provided an interesting opportunity to assess the new opponent. His speech broke into three sections:
First, some anecdotes to get the audience warmed up. GB seemed highly uncomfortable, although the material itself was sound, and there was a lot of touching the face and hair. Very closed and introverted hand gestures.
Second, the economic stuff, delivered in a long monologue without full stops, capital letters or any change of tone. This makes it difficult to follow his argument and sounds a bit like someone reading out the Yellow Pages. Some people clearly thought he must be very clever, because they couldn't understand what he was saying!
Finally, some stuff on training and raising skills, which he delivered with passion and commitment. Obviously this is the subject that motivates him and keeps him in politics. We can expect plenty more of this.
But on the whole, he appeared uncomfortable speaking to a large audience. This was not helped by his trademark decision to wear a lounge suit when we were all in black tie, as if he had some sort of 'statement' to make. Tony Blair or Ken Livingstone would have been more charismatic and engaging - I could have done it better myself....
I pointed this out to a fellow guest. He's a lot better than he was last time he spoke, was the response.