London mayor Boris Johnson has compared former UK prime minister Tony Blair s oratory finesse to that of Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler.
The Tory politician said Hitler s carefully crafted demagogic speech techniques, which were designed to appeal to people s emotions, were emulated to great effect by Blair, who was in office between 1997 and 2007.
Johnson made the comments in his forthcoming book The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History, which was excerpted in The Telegraph.
Look at Hitler, if you can bear it, and see his hypnotic quality, Johnson commented. First the long, excruciating pause before he speaks; and then see how he begins so softly – with his arms folded –and how he uncoils them as his voice starts to rise, and then the awful jabbing fluidity of his gestures, perfectly timed to intensify the crescendos of his speech.
Yes, he has some paper on the table in front: but he hardly refers to it. He seems to be speaking entirely without notes. See the effect on his audience: the happy beams on the faces of the young women, the shouts from the men, and the way their arms rise as one to salute him like the fronds of some huge undersea creature.
Listen to the way he brings them all to their collective climax: with short verbless phrases – grammatically meaningless, but full of suggestive power. It was to become a highly influential technique, copied, among others, by Tony Blair.
By comparison, Britain s war-time leader Winston Churchill was wooden and lacked the oratory flair of other iconic leaders, Johnson argues.
The sad thing is that we don t have his Commons performances, and must make do with recordings he made for broadcast, he commented.
There is plenty of growl – but he certainly neither rants nor raves, and if anything, some of his phrases have a downward slide, a dying fall.
Perhaps he gave things a bit more oomph in the Commons, but you can see why he didn t always get good reviews.
Johnson s comparison is not the first time Blair has been likened to Hitler. In 2006, a newspaper and billboard advertising campaign against ID cards sponsored by the Liberal Democrats and Labour MP Diane Abbott featured a photo of the controversial former Labour PM with a barcode across his lip in an apparent reference to Hitler s moustache.
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