Opinion / British Politics and Society

Being Honest With Your Boss

A really difficult and sensitive issue in ‘management’ and ‘leadership’: how do junior colleagues tell senior colleagues that they’re (perhaps) not getting it right? One of my own most powerful life lessons on this came back in the early 1980s when I was a mere Second Secretary at the British […]

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Who Decides who Decides?

My new piece at DIPLOMAT: Down the ages humans have invented only two ways of running things: Do what I say, or else! The consent of the governed In the first case – the dominant model for most of human history – the ruler’s authority and legitimacy come from the […]

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ZOPA and Win-Win Negotiation

Rummage around in the acronym bran-tub of negotiation theory and you might well pull out ZOPA: the Zone of Possible Agreement. See a visualisation of that idea here. The idea of ZOPA is simple. Alex wants to buy a car. Blex has one to sell: Alex is ready to pay […]

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Quotations in Speeches

Remember my advice on using quotations in speeches? Basically, don’t. It’s too often either cliché ‘filler’ or an attempt to nab some glory from a far more distinguished person in the hope that a little of of sticks to the speaker. Over at Joyful Public Speaking Richard Garber has things […]

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Democracy and Technology

As well as the usual UK post-election party political wailing or gloating and general spinning, deeper things are going on. Here’s my theory. Namely that technology is making democratic government itself harder and harder. Eventually impossible? Think about it. Information technology in its current galloping form erodes categories, everywhere and […]

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GE2017: Message and Tone

Well. What a surprise. Remember my analysis of the Brexit referendum campaign? Thus: As loyal readers here know, it’s not what you say – it’s what they hear. The Remain campaign have aimed (with broad success) to corner the market in common sense steady-as-she-goes decency. Yet they somehow also exude […]

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Slaves and Whips

As this country totters towards its latest general elections amid successive Islamist terrorist murders, let’s look at the towering ‘speech’ (in fact the systematic private demolition of another erstwhile ‘friend, Peter Keating) by Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead. Most of it is here. Thus: If you learn how to rule one […]

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Starting a Speech (Continued)

My post on the (ab)use of quotations in speeches prompted this comment from always alert reader Nigel Sedgwick: Charles is IMHO likely amongst the very best current advisors on speechmaking. But I must challenge him on a bit of material missing from his latest offering. The word spoken and heard […]

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Negotiating Brexit: May v Corbyn

Responding to my post on Craig Murray’s footling criticism of Theresa May’s negotiating capabilities, reader Benjamin writes: You note the importance of a clear plan in long-term negotiations. Is anybody aware what May’s plan is, or whether she even has one? You mention that different cultures call for different negotiating […]

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President Trump Saudi Speech

Here is my piece for Vital Speeches analysing President Trump’s major foreign policy speech in Saudi Arabia, comparing it to the rambling didactic speech by President Obama in Cairo in 2009. Key opening point: This speech is 3402 words long. The Obama speech in 2009 had a sprawling 6050 words […]

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