Thursday, October 12, 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s October 4th Conservative Party conference speech became a media train wreck

On October 4th, in Manchester, Theresa May spoke for about an hour. She had a coughing fit, drank lots of water, and was handed a throat lozenge by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond. Then she joked I hope you’ll notice the chancellor giving away something for free. Her coughing might have happened to anyone. But other things also went wrong, and were gleefully reported by media.

Frank Langfitt at NPR reported Britain’s Theresa May had to give a major speech. It didn’t go well. James Masters at CNN reported Theresa May’s nightmare speech: a prankster, a lost voice and a stage-set fail. Stephen Castle at the New York Times reported Theresa May, coughing and caught by a prankster, endures a speech to forget.

About halfway through her speech comedian and serial gate-crasher Simon Brodkin strode up to the lectern and handed her a phony P45 form (shown in the New York Times article). That’s the equivalent of a pink slip. The space for gender had been expanded, and listed MALE, FEMALE, and ROBOT - which was checked. (Last year John Crace at the Gurdian had christened her the Maybot). Under Reason for Termination it listed NEITHER STRONG NOR STABLE, and WE’RE A BIT WORRIED ABOUT JEZZA (slang for Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn). When she recovered from the security lapse, Theresa joked that she’d like to give Jeremy a P45.

Both the lectern and backdrop behind her had the slogan BUILDING A COUNTRY THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE. As shown above, the left and right letters in the bottom line on the backdrop fell off during her speech.

BBC’s Newsnight had a 5-1/2 minute YouTube video with excerpts, and you can also view the whole thing at Orion Prime.

The next day Ragan’s PR Daily had an article titled Fixing speaking disasters on the fly: Lessons from Britain’s PM. So, when you have a day full of worst moments, you can serve as a bad example for others to avoid.

The train wreck image came from a 110-year old Casualty Company of America ad at the Library of Congress.

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