British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has paid $40,000 for the speechwriting services of Washington, D.C. firm West Wing Writers, it emerged this week, including $7,000 to polish his speech to the U.S. Congress in March. The writers, some of whom worked for the Clinton administration, added references to John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and the Gettysburg Address. Did the British leader really need an American ghostwriter?
This is an expensive mistake: Blimey, says Alex Massie in The Spectator. Charging $7,000 for a reference to the “most famous presidential speech in history” is an “impressive trick.” There must be “thousands of professional hacks” in the U.K. who could have written this at “better rates”. This revelation is “hideously embarrassing” for the Brown administration, especially given the “dull, blindingly-obvious, and banal” speech that he ended up with.
“Gordon Brown’s American helpers”
It was great value for the money: What's all the fuss about? asks Simon Lancaster in The Guardian. Speaking as a professional speechwriter, his speech to Congress “was the first one that I admired” in Brown's 20-year political career. It was a “rare high” in a “miserable year,” providing a “fleeting display of real power” and revealing Britain “still to be a major player post-Blair.” And all it cost was $7,000. “Isn't this value for money?”
“Gordon Brown’s speech: cheap at £4.3K”
Never scrimp on powerful words: “A single speech can make or break a political career,” says Giles Whittell in The Times of London. Look at Barack Obama, who “saved his presidential candidacy with a single speech on race in Philadelphia.” Brown's speech earned him 19 standing ovations, so you'd have to call it “money well spent”—especially since his "default” oratory has all the grace of a “sledgehammer.”
“There’s no such thing as free speech in politics”