The oratory of Michael Heseltine
in Conservative orators from Baldwin to Cameron
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Michael Heseltine may never have been Conservative Party leader or Prime Minister, but he was a flamboyant and exuberant performer and always in demand as a speaker. Oratory was an essential part of his political persona and kept him firmly in the public eye. Always the showman, he famously grabbed the Commons Mace in 1976, and bestrode television studios. Yet it was as the party conference darling that he really excelled. Bravura performances mainly chastising the Labour opposition ‘Left, left…left, left left’ (1976) and ‘It was Balls not Brown’ (1994) were the most memorable. Heseltine worked hard at his oratory. He drew strongly on ethos invoking his colourful entrepreneurial background and personal charisma. His use of pathos to emotionally connect with the audience was evident, though the content often chimed only with a particular section of the party. The logos he deployed set clear dividing lines with Labour, always passionate and combative, but often setting out ‘home truths’ to his own party. This chapter explores how Heseltine deployed these persuasive tools in each political arena and how he engaged with different audiences.

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