Comprehension/Analysis/Evaluation "Speech to the Labour Party Annual Conference" by E. Miliband
- Describe the cartoon and the political issues and views presented in both cartoon and speech. (Comprehension) (16 Punkte)
- Analyse how these issues and views are presented. Consider communicative strategies in the speech, visual and textual features of the cartoon as well as their intended effects. (Analysis) (24 Punkte)
- Choose one of the following tasks:
3.1 Discuss the message of the cartoon. Refer to work done in class on the British monarchy and modern democracy. (Evaluation: comment) (20 Punkte)
3.2 As a second generation immigrant you have listened to Miliband’s speech. Write a response to his speech in a formal letter to your local Labour MP. Focus on your personal experience and your expectations of a future government. (Evaluation: re-creation of text) (20 Punkte)
The cartoon “The Royal Baby” was created by Steve Bell and published on the website belltoons.co.uk in 2013. It suggests a toddler lying in a crib, making a proud, reverted V-sign while wearing a crown on its head. The only clearly distinguishable features of the toddler are its fingers – apart from that, it is covered in white blankets; even the crown seems to rest rather on a fluffy white pillow than on an actual human head. The entire cartoon is drawn in the style of a stamp, the number “2” is used to suggest the net worth of said stamp. There is a surprising amount of text used for a cartoon. The font is stylish and reminiscent of an older era, with a focus on elegance. The small font, however, carries a very disrespectful message, and adds to the affront of the reverted V-sign – which is an insult in the UK.
Apparently, there is much sarcasm at play in the cartoon. The creator depicts a royal baby that already has a big, arrogant attitude, and is aware of how important he or she is. However, the toddler has no respect for the people who he/she might one day rule. It appears that the cartoonist is highly critical of the concept of royalty in modern-day UK.
The speech by former Labour leader Miliband, at first glance, has a different topic. It is concerned with the plight of simple British workers. The politician describes meeting many ordinary people who are angry because they cannot find work, or because their work pays too little. One of them blames immigration, drawing a connection that Miliband does not comment on further. Overall, the party leader wants to raise the spirit of his audience and let them know that economic improvement can be reached – quite possibly, in his opinion, only if they vote for him and his party.
Ed Miliband employs a number of simple, straightforward techniques to get his views across to an audience of loyal followers. His strategies are more clearly aligned with his aims, whereas Steve Bell presents his ideas in a less direct, albeit slightly obscene way.
Among the most important aspects of the speech is the heavy reliance on the personal realm. Miliband, who uses his own frame of reference and the word “I” repeatedly, tries to draw in his audience by recalling a number of encounters with disappointed workers. Just as famous speakers of the past, as well as literary models in Shakespeare and other writers, the politician portrays simple people in ordinary situations, and then amplifies the effect of his thoughts slowly. He uses everyday language, not fancy words – people do “hard work” (l. 10), are “incredibly angry” (l. 2f.) and are referred to as “blokes” (l. 2) or simply via their trade. This kind of political talk is used all over the world. American politicians, for instance, refer to voters as “folks” in order to appear more down to earth; the same apparently applies to the well-educated Miliband. He uses short sentences, especially when quoting the people he meets: “look, I go out, I do the work, I go all around the country […]” (ll. 15-16) – moreover, he avoids rhetorical embellishment such as metaphors or alliteration. His aim is to appear folksy, educated, yet to the point; to have an ear for the common man. Therefore, he does not use statistics or any facts, really, but appeals on an emotional level.
This last idea is where the cartoonist and the politicians use a synonymous strategy. Beyond that, Bell employs both a subtler and a defter touch. He is nuanced in his visual features, keeping it all in grey and white and black, using simple motifs – except for the insult of the V-sign. Through that rude gesture, he creates distance between his subject and the viewer. This distance is deliberately widened by the text. Bell seems to apply quite a bit of mockery here, as he practically shouts at his audience that they should not be so stupid or vain to think that a monarch might have their best interests in mind. Rather, he hints at dominant rulers of the past, and at the unease many liberal thinkers of our day and age feel when considering the monarchy. Obviously, Bell also mocks the very thought that a baby, only two days old at the time the cartoon was created, is destined to one day rule the UK, although it could not remotely be aware of this. In this, he mirrors a debate that the rest of Europe carries out time and again, whereas in England, there is still hardly a serious challenge to the remaining powers of the monarchy.
The common thread, apart from the emotional angle of both speech and cartoon, is the perspective of the common man. In the political speech, everyday people are portrayed as angry in the face of mounting economic pressures. In the cartoon, the “everyman” is hinted at – as a subject to be ruled, one that invites oppression and hardship, because no one in the UK seems to be able to shake off the tradition of monarchy.
With his cartoon “The Royal Baby,” Steve Bell declares loudly and clearly that, in our day and age, any type of monarchy should long have been abandoned. He invokes the lessons of a past long gone – through the usage of old typography and the pseudo-religious symbolism of the cartoon – to remind us that rulers, more often than not, oppressed their subjects, and might still do so today. Even if Queen Elizabeth II lacks the powers of an Elizabeth I, she still holds sway over her countrymen, and commands riches beyond anything ordinary people might dream of. Even worse, Bell highlights the arrogance of a ruling class that has often done unspeakable things. In England alone, former royals were liberal in doling out the harshest penalties to anyone challenging them, and torture and the death penalty were the norm. Nowadays, we like to think that we are an educated people that has learned from hundreds of years of hardship and wars, specifically through the enlightenment period and the terrible world wars of the 20th century. We are dealing with the serious issues of our time – such as the ongoing refugee crisis – on an everyday basis, through discussion in the media and on the streets, as well as, obviously, in Parliament. But ultimately, the cartoon makes a mockery of all that – with one simple, rude wave of a hand, it dares us to challenge our way of thinking. And, thereby, to perhaps find the courage to do away with an undemocratic system that has no place in a society priding itself on liberal, democratic values.
Dear Mr. Alastair!
My name is Amir Kareem Mandhul, and I am writing to you in response to Mr. Ed Miliband’s recent speech to the Labour Party Annual Conference in Brighton. As a second generation immigrant to the United Kingdom and a proud citizen of England, I must say that I was dismayed at the underlying attitude Mr. Miliband seemed to convey in his speech. Just because I am an immigrant to this country and am hardly represented in the political spectrum of the Tories does not mean you should take my vote for granted.
While Mr. Miliband has not criticized immigrants outright, he does seem to sympathize with the notion that immigrants take away the jobs of natives. Studies are very clear on this not being the case! On the contrary, immigrants often do the jobs that natives do not wish to pursue, such as simple cleaning or housekeeping jobs, or those that require tough physical labour. Personally, I have worked at many jobs since arriving in England, and have had little trouble in getting along with co-workers, both native and from abroad. I’ve managed construction jobs just as well as those in the service industry, and am now a proud Uber Executive chauffeur with my very own luxury car. It is a modest success that I have achieved for me and my family, but a success nonetheless.
I hope to be represented well in our future government, to be looked at with respect – yes, dare I say, I hope to have a voice through you, as well. In a country with fewer and fewer children and teenagers, it is absolutely vital that we attract educated youngsters from all over the globe. Many would heed the call of England, if only there was less fear over our cultural differences and a more positive outreach. Therefore, I am urging you again. Any hostilities towards immigrants, no matter how ambiguous, surely have no place in the proud tradition of the Labour Party.
I wish to thank you for considering my letter.
Amir Kareem Mandhul
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