Monday, 19 April 2010
Election 2010 Emergency Meeting – Worshipful Guild of Media Trainers
A crisis had struck the craft of media training, one which pierced to the very heart of its time-honoured methodologies, and that crisis had dramatically unveiled itself during the first of the UK Party Leaders’ Election Debates, declared the President of the Worshipful Guild of Media Trainers, the Worshipful Bro. A DJING-HACK, at an emergency meeting of the Guild, convened in the snug bar of the Lens & Pen Inn, London EC1.
For many years the craft had rested its practice securely upon on coaching clients to observe the celebrated fourfold formula: “IMPACT-ANECDOTE-ARGUMENT-POINT”, memorably described by one of his [The President’s] late and illustrious predecessors as “the unturnable poignard of media engagement”.
Sist. KNIB asked to be reminded what exactly a “poignard” was?
The President explained that it was a kind of medieval dagger.
Sist. KNIB asked why, then, he [the late President] did not simply say “dagger”?
The President replied that he did not know
Bro GRUB: “What about the Wayzgoose?”
The President pointed out that the itinerary for the Wayzgoose was a matter of ordinary and not extraordinary business, and if he might continue to develop his theme, he wished to point out how signally, in the case of each leader at the debate, the anecdote portion of the equation, which his predecessor had called “the beating heart of an unbeatable monologue,” had failed. For example, Mr BROWN had said:
“I talked to a chef the other day who was training. I said in future, when we do it, there'll be no chefs allowed in from outside the European Union.”
Bro. SCRIVER: “When we do what, exactly?”
Bro. SQUINK: “Bang go our biryanis...”
The President continued with a quotation from Mr CAMERON:
“I went to a Hull police station the other day. They had five different police cars, and they were just about to buy a £73,000 Lexus.”
Bro. SCRIVER: “Well, if he doesn’t win he can always get a job with Glass’s Guide...”
The President then added a quotation from Mr CLEGG:
“I was in a hospital, a paediatric hospital in Cardiff a few months ago, treating very sick premature young babies. I was being shown around and there were a large number of babies needing to be treated. There was a ward standing completely empty, though it had the latest equipment.”
Several Worshipful Bros & Sists: “did you know Clegg was a paediatrician?” ... “lucky for him the ward was empty” ... “wonder how he got on treating them?”
Bro. GRUB: The Wayzgoose!
The President, deploying the gavel, said he appreciated that some members were in an impatient and others in a facetious mood, his assistant having erroneously posted the wrong time for the meeting, thus summoning them two hours too early to the bar, but nevertheless he would like to concentrate on the critical issue, viz, whether the widespread mockery and scepticism with which the three leaders’ anecdotes had been received suggested that this foundational segment of the formula was now, not to put too fine a point on it, “shot through and sunk.”
Sist. KNIB said that politicians were always the exception that proved the rule, seeing as how there hadn’t been one since Margaret THATCHER or the late Michael FOOT who’d been capable of stringing sentences into a coherent paragraph or looking folk straight in the eye or opening their mouths without telling blatant porkies.
Bro. SCRIVER, after helping Bro. GRUB up from the floor and onto a chair, said that what you had in the leaders’ debate was a tattered grey parrot, an anxious jackdaw and a startled mynah bird, each perched on his lectern and squawking the phrases which had been dinned into them without the faintest comprehension of structure, meaning or intent – and it showed.
But Sist. MAGGS begged to demur. Mr CLEGG, she said, had fetched up a very telling anecdote. Not the line he’d been fed by his advisers about the sick babies and the empty ward, but, in an exchange with Mr BROWN, this one [consulting notebook]:
GORDON BROWN: I want an MP to be elected with more than 50 per cent of the vote, and I want a House of Lords that is not hereditary but elected on a proportional representation list system. That's what we want to put to a referendum next year.
NICK CLEGG: I'm absolutely dismayed by this. This is something I actually put forward in the House of Commons. We already could have had that law, people already could have had the right to sack corrupt MPs. Labour MPs voted against it. Conservative MPs didn't turn up.
And members of the Guild should also note, Sist. MAGGS continued, that Mr CLEGG had also very effectively "stepped through the proscenium":
NICK CLEGG: I'm not sure if you're like me, but the more they attack each other, the more they sound exactly the same.
On a show of hands, members of the Guild voted to retain the formula, but to keep it under constant review.
The President said he was relieved, because if their media training paradigm had indeed collapsed, members would have had no alternative but to call a special conference and reconstruct their methodologies “ab origine.”
Sist. MAGGS said maybe the media training paradigm hadn’t collapsed, but maybe the two-party political paradigm had. Members should watch the ensuing debates with close interest.
The Guild then discussed arrangements for its midsummer Wayzgoose, and there being no other business, the meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
Note to Editors: all quotations from the April 15 Leaders’ Debate are taken verbatim from the BBC Transcript of the broadcast.