The oratory of James Callaghan

Meredith, Stephen Clive orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2382-1015 (2014) The oratory of James Callaghan. In: Labour Orators from Bevan to Miliband. Manchester University Press (MUP), Manchester, pp. 76-92. ISBN 9780719089800

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The chapter contributes to the neglected field of analysis of the use, purpose and impact of political oratory and rhetoric in Labour's post-war political history. Specifically, the chapter assesses the contribution of Jim Callaghan's Labour oratory across the spectrum of his political and public roles and experience, and evaluates his relative success in advancing his position or that of the Labour Party as evidenced by his party and wider public impact. It suggests that, with obvious notable exceptions, Callaghan demonstrated undoubted party and public communication skills, often in difficult circumstances during his prime ministerial tenure, and held it to be one of his core political strengths. Although perhaps not a natural orator in the classical sense, his relative frankness and identification with the ‘touch-stone of public opinion’, expression of the ‘personal touch’ and ability to communicate a message of calm and reassurance were regarded as the essence of his political method and appeal, even in the darkest days of his Labour government.

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