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A Musty Needy EU Speech

26th June 2009

A final thought on that David Miliband speech in Poland.

It's his use of the words 'must' and 'need'.

This is what he says the EU 'must' do. It must:

  • adapt once again to the changing geopolitical context we face
  • set itself a goal of creating a single, low-carbon, energy market across the EU
  • be prepared to speak with a strong voice so that it can engage the main global powers
  • support political reforms
  • adapt to new insecurities

On top of that 'we' must:

  • regulate to make our homes and industries more efficient
  • confront the fact that the desire to enlarge Europe is facing increased opposition
  • make the case [for enlargement]
  • avoid two dangers. One is denial about the scale of the [economic] problem.  The second is quack remedies

Last but not least:

  • there are still major obstacles to effective [EU] engagement with key partners, in particular NATO, which must be overcome

The verb need/needs is also used a startling 21 times in the speech. Thus 'we need':

  • a compelling positive case for the European Union
  • bold strokes
  • to deepen cooperation and incentivise reform
  • to diversify our energy supplies
  • more solidarity between Member States
  • to prepare better for energy shortfalls
  • to make G3 cooperation – US, China and the EU - work
  • to get better at formulating genuine strategic responses to the really difficult policy questions
  • to be a key player on the global stage 

This strange repetitive exhortatory language detached from any real analysis of the problems is reminiscent of the communist apparatchik from Party HQ standing on a barren collective farm field and addressing the workers.

He hectors them to even greater efforts to bring about the triumph of socialist productivity. They stare blankly at him, lost in their own thoughts and the disappointed emptiness of their blighted lives.

The fact is that after twelve years of New Labour diligence and all sorts of ringing EU declarations, all these basic issues as described by the Foreign Secretary are unresolved.

So maybe the real point is that there 'must' be a reason for that?

And that maybe the political elites round Europe 'need' to think about that rather more deeply than has been the case? 

Older comments:
26th June 2009
Max Atkinson
It's good to see from this and your other recent posts on the Miliband speech that I am not alone in subjecting speeches to detailed scrutiny and analysis.

One thing you've demonstrated is that FCO officials are in dire NEED of some training in speech-writing and really MUST do something about it (on which, perhaps, we should submit a proposal offering to help).

Another is that Miliband's speech writers, like Gordon Brown's, are ignoring a rather important lesson about simplification from Winston Churchill, and NEED to realise that they MUST not pack far too much detail into their scripts. For more on which, see http://maxatkinson.blogspot.com/2009/04/gordon-browns-g20-address-ignores.html
29th June 2009
Yes, but isn't the invoking of a 'we' of critical importance in the European context? How else does one draft a speech calling for positive measures to be taken other than to address one's audience?

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