Is There a Crisis in Political Rhetoric?

Is there a crisis in political rhetoric? The more you think about this question the more you realise just how gargantuan the can of worms you just opened is. Simply knowing how to strategically approach this questions is a mission within itself, and that was the focus of the recent workshop hosted by the Network of Oratory and Politics which took place at Queen Mary University in London on Wednesday 13th September.  Continue reading “Is There a Crisis in Political Rhetoric?”

A Rhetorical Review of PMQs

Summer recess is over so parliament is back and with it comes Prime Minister’s Questions! To many people, PMQs seems like one of the crazy side effects of democracy. Politicians jeering, waving papers and making snide comments whilst devolving into a tribal state of savagery. This anthropological debacle is chaired by the speaker, who like a toothless beast has to control the chamber with nothing but howls. It is worthy enough to be a David Attenborough documentary. Continue reading “A Rhetorical Review of PMQs”

Game of Rhetoric: A rhetorical commentary on Cersei Lannister’s speech

This rhetorical commentary of Cersei Lannister’s speech is written purely as an exercise for identifying uses of classical rhetoric in modern popular culture. Rhetoric is used in discourse all the time; it is used in speeches, movies, books, articles and even TV shows about dragons!

If you haven’t watched Game of Thrones, it will still make sense as I have quoted the script and you don’t need much context. If you are currently watching Game of Thrones and haven’t watched up to Season 7 Episode 2 then I suggest you stop reading now (spoiler alert)!

This speech is an example of a philippic which is an aggressive attack on someone’s ethos (this is also known as ad hominem).

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Sarcasm: The tricky trope

In yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Jeremy Corbyn said ‘I hope that the Prime Minister is proud of her record…’ Most native English speakers would know that this isn’t what he meant. In fact, Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t care whether or not Theresa May feels pride in her record. However, he is pointing out that she shouldn’t be proud. Sarcasm; plain, simple and scathing.

Jeremy Corbyn could have said ‘I hope the Prime Minister is ashamed of her track record’, however, he clearly thought that sarcasm was more effective. Sarcasm can be a nasty way of telling someone off, and if it’s done publicly in a way that patronises your opponent, then you definitely get bonus points from your party.

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