Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Friday, 23 July 2010

George Osborne's lips betray concentration not conspiracy

I noticed on a couple of blogposts yesterday (Lib Con and Hadleigh Roberts) that they were drawing attention to the fact that when Nick Clegg made his now infamous statement about how Jack Straw had supported "the illegal invasion of Iraq", George Osborne appeared to know what he was saying before he said it as he was lip-syncing along with him.

Here is the relevant clip so you can judge for yourself:

Having watched it several times now I have come to a different conclusion. I think Osborne is engaging in a form of unconscious mimicry. I have noticed this amongst some people I know. It seems to often manifest itself in repeating the last word of somebody's sentence just after they have said it but I have also seen it where someone appears to be half-heartedly lip-syncing with the speaker too. This is what appears to be happening here. Osborne is sort of making the same mouth movements as Clegg but if you watch closely it is a split second after he has said each word. He is also nodding along with the rhythm of Clegg's speech pattern. The look on his face is one of intense concentration, I suspect as he is taking in what Clegg is saying rather than knowing what it will be before he has said it.

This actually makes more sense than Clegg and Osborne having colluded on this. Osborne voted for the Iraq war and also does not consider it illegal. Why would he want Clegg to say that? It just puts him and his colleagues in an embarrassing position. And if there was collusion you would expect Osborne to do everything in his power to suppress any urge to mouth the words as Clegg said them. As for the pointing at Straw and laughing as soon as Clegg sat down, well that's what happens at PMQs. I do not think we need read anything much into it.

So in this case I think that all Osborne's lips betrayed were intense concentration and a slight nervous tic rather than some conspiracy.


Anonymous said...

The fact Osborne's unconsciously matches and mirrors Clegg is a sign of the strength of the coalition.

That Labour-supporting bloggers read it is signifying their relationship is that of puppeteer and puppet says more about the nature of how Labour does its business that it does about the Coalition.

Margin said...

I have to say the mouthing of the words is less interesting than what was said. Nick Clegg doesn't seemed to have grasped what it means to speak for the government yet and has a lot of learning to do. And Osborne isn't quick witted enough to realise the faux pa.

That said - that they get on well and agree on almost everything now is a problem for the Lib Dems and explains the collapse in their polls.

So I expect LibDems to say a lot about Iraq (when not leading the government) in the year ahead in the hope it may help them hold onto a few lefties.

Rosalind said...

I must be the only person who, having watched closely, couldn't see Osborne mouthing any words.

Must be thick.

Sunny H said...

Mark, we were just having a laugh at Osborne, no need to read too much into it.

However, if Osborne was paying that much interest to what Clegg was saying - he would have realised the gaffe immediately like Hague did. And yet he pointed and smiled at Straw as if to say 'hah! he smacked you there' without actually thinking about what was said!?

Anyway, that's my reading. I just found the video hilarious for Osborne's smug smile