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Is Kevin Rudd a good communicator?

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2 April 2009 11:40

Former Tony Blair spin-doctor Alistair Campbell, writing for Crikey, thinks so:

To a party last night...at which no fewer than four people -- two political, two not -- spontaneously mentioned Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's interview on yesterday's Andrew Marr programme...

...Kevin Rudd's success on Sunday came from being rooted in a culture in which, though politicians will always be wary of media and vice versa, he is still able to see an interview as a place to make a series of big strategic points, not as a dull contest in which to secure a no-score draw is viewed as something close to triumph by the politicians, failure by the broadcasters, and plain dull by the public.

First point, regarding Campbell's implication in the article that British journos are more likely than ours to turn interviews with politicians into 'dull contests': Mr Campbell, I'd like to introduce you to Kerry O'Brien. I don't believe you've met.

Second point, regarding Rudd's effectiveness as a communicator: I've been very critical of this on The Interpreter. Rudd's set piece speeches tend to be dreary, at best, and at times seem designed specifically to drive language mavens like Don Watson to distraction (Rudd's maiden speech to parliament contains ten uses of the word 'fundamental').

But Campbell is right that Rudd gave a very good interview to the BBC. There was little of the usual jargon and management-speak; just a clear and cogent statement of his position. The whole performance was only undermined by the occasional two-shot, which showed that Rudd had neglected to pull up his socks.

(Thanks to Larvatus Prodeo for the Campbell link.)

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