Rachel Reeves and the BBC gaze

I allow my thoughts to wander as I watch the BBC News live feed of the Labour Party Conference

Tuesday 27 September, 2022

Keir Starmer delivers his keynote speech at the Labour conference. His opening remarks capture the disarray of the Govt and the need for a Labour government.

A round of applause, choreographed as they always are at party conferences. Too lengthy for the neutral observer. But BBC News rose to the occasion. The cameras focussed on Rachel Reeves. Because she wasn’t applauding enthusiastically?


Because she was replicating the state of rapture perfected recently at PMQs by Nadine Dorries during the applause gaps in one of Boris Johnson’s  oven-ready set pieces?


A suspicion crosses my mind. Rachel Reeves delivered a stunning speech yesterday. The BBC gaze was searching for evidence of overweening ambition, perhaps disloyalty towards a leader (perish the thought). The everyday creativity of a brand under construction. Yesterday’s triumph was too good to be true. Surely she should have avoiding being good enough to be see as a pretender for the No 10 job. By which I mean the No 1 job,

The speech continues. At the next pause for applause, the BBC gaze moves on to another possible pretender. It is Angela Rayner, already more than a match in public exchanges with the recently-departed Boris Johnson. But the applause this time was briefer was briefer, as was Angela’s moment in the BBC’s gaze.

Starmer builds up for a crowd rouser. Promises a new future, a new corporate entity, Great British Energy, all green and job creating, then the punchline, and will be publicly held. For the people, owned by the people. He nails it. Standing ovation. The BBC gaze takes in the scene panoramically briefly, then unerringly focuses down to Rachel (fortunately applauding as gamely as ever).

The speech is beginning to run on empty. I wish he’d made it shorter. It dribbled to an end, with me shouting at the screen, you’ve got them. Say something rousing and get off. But he doesn’t do show-biz. 

He said something about being the Government in waiting which seemed to confirm the new-found confidence around the hall. Confidence in their future, in the latest opinion poll putting Labour on course for a comfortable majority. Confidence in the astrological arrangements that produced the arrival of the new look Government with policies being blown off course just in time for the autumn conference season. Or Christmas arriving in October, as one delegate put it, barely concealing his glee.

The post was also turned into a Buzzsprout Podcast, A version can also be found in Leaders We Deserve WordPress.


By Tudor Rickards

Tudor Rickards is a Business School Professor who has taught and written extensively on leadership, creativity and change management. He has also worked as a scientific manager, journal editor, and entrepreneur. Tudor lives in a part of Greater Manchester which figures in his fictional writings, plays tennis badly and chess more competitively.

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