The oratory of Keith Joseph
in Conservative orators from Baldwin to Cameron
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Sir Keith Joseph was not a conventional Conservative orator. Whilst it is common for a political actor to develop their communication skills in the Commons, media and conference, Joseph became an increasingly less inspiring orator over the course of his career. His conversion to conservatism led to him stumbling for justifications for his arguments, which his Conservative Party peers found easier to make. Although it would be appropriate to think of him as a mediocre orator, this should not be taken as an indicator of his political impact. Rather, his lack of oratorical skills themselves became distinctive enough for him to develop an intellectual character and style of communication sufficient to gain a significant public profile. Thus, when considering Joseph we should see those apparent oratorical failings as a means of constructing a distinctive form of rhetorical ethos, thereby enabling political impact.


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