When authentic, Gordon Brown is comfortable with his content and could scarcely be more credible. He turns being didactic into a virtue. Stacked on top of this, is his position as Prime Minister, which is the only Gordon Brown we’re afforded. Whilst his predecessor sculpted a public persona to the point of over familiarity; Brown’s personal life, to coin a phrase, “is just that”.
Imagine a scale that runs between credible and approachable. At one end we have Sean Connery playing James Bond, no curves in his posture, hand gestures only to add emphasis and with palms facing down, his breathing low in his body, he pauses between words and has a voice that goes down at the end of words or phrases. The other end is the theme park version of Mickey Mouse, head and body in continuous child like movement, shrugging shoulders, high breathing and a continuous squeeking voice.
On this crude scale Brown has a lot in common with his compatriot. In this clip at NYU he’s at his default. Were it not for the fluidity and range of this hand gesturing, he’d appear overly stern and serious. There are scores of points to draw out here. In the first 14 seconds, he invites us to agree with what he’s saying by starting with his palm up. He then flips his hand and moves it away from himself in describing the problem whilst chaining together the notion of banks being interlinked. This hand gesture is repeated as he sets out a solution, speaking in the first person plural which begs who is included in “we”? He concludes by bringing his hand and by association the solution, towards himself. The problem is global, effecting a solution is no different, he’s with the solution. Dropping his head, he then breaks subject. A second theme is introduced, it lasts a similar amount of time (21 seconds), the gestures are similar though here he counts through the points that he wants to chain together, associating himself with international co-operation at 0:33. After similar gesturing, he breaks from his third theme by dropping his head at 0:51.
From this point on, Brown changes hand gestures. At 1:02 he moves towards himself whilst speaking of a general consensus. The movement at 1:04 as he says “what we need to do” is the most striking of the whole discourse. Following, his voice slows and the emphasis of this speech is outlined, global poverty. The principle gesture of the concluding 2 minutes is repeated linking him to his audience. At 2:16 his broad sweep echoes his earlier motion of chaining issues save that here, he’s indicating that the internet breaks through those barriers that he mentioned earlier. Towards the end he moves away from issues and towards a big picture vision, OK, he’s a politician.
In all, this presents someone with the courage of his convictions. The content addresses issues that are as serious as it gets but he’s comfortable. This is what he wants to be dealing with. For the most part, he’s congruent.
Contrast, months later and the PM has been persuaded to move along our crude credible and approacible scale towards Miki Mouse.
N.B. this is an unfinished post.