By Max Musson:
At a prestigious central London hotel yesterday, the Jonathan Bowden Oratory Prize sponsored by Western Spring was awarded for the first time at a meeting of the London Forum in front of a large audience of London’s most prominent nationalist activists, speakers, writers and politicians.
Western Spring conceived the idea for this award more than a year ago, as a means developing the skills base of nationalist speakers generally, and also as a means of bringing nationalists together in a shared endeavour.
In my introductory speech, I explained that nationalists are at present divided and that initiatives are needed to bring us together and I asked the audience to show their appreciation for Jez Turner the organizer of the London Forum for his sterling work in regularly bringing a wide range of nationalists together at the functions he organizes.
Having initially conceived the idea, we at Western Spring decided that it would add prestige to our prize and at the same time honour the late Jonathan Bowden, if the award could be made in his name. I told the audience that Jonathon was without doubt the greatest nationalist orator of our generation. I explained that I had met with Jonathan on March 14th 2012, that he had been very enthusiastic about our plans and had agreed to join Western Spring, sadly just 15 days before his tragic death. It is therefore fitting that we should annually honour his memory by awarding a prize in his name.
I announced the names of the seven nominees for the prize this year and the audience showed their appreciation, clapping enthusiastically as the names were read out, and the gathered nationalists listened intently as I reviewed the performances of the nominees.
Peter Rushton had delivered the speech for which he was nominated outdoors, in front of a hostile press, and with the elements and the traffic noise to contend with. Even so, he spoke clearly, at a measured pace and with great authority. He made skilful use of emphasis and modulation, and his speech was delivered with exhortation, passion and power.
Alex Kurtagic had spoken approximately a year ago, close to the first anniversary of Jonathan Bowden’s death and he had spoken about Jonathan’s life and the contribution he had made to the nationalist cause. In his speech, Alex had used emphasis and modulation to add impact to what he said, he had used humour, irony and a number of other oratorical devices, such as impersonation to good effect. Most impressively Alex had spoken using vivid description, detailed characterisation and theatrical gestures to emphasis what he had to say.
Kevin Layzell, the Young BNP Organiser was our third nominee and despite his youth spoke at length and with confidence, with a speech that was thematic and conceptually novel, full of anecdotes and with good use of irony to add humour. Most notably he spoke fluidly, maintaining momentum, with few of the ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ that tend to blight the speeches of those with as yet little experience of public speaking.
In terms of public speaking experience, our next nominee, Richard Edmonds, will have few equals and he was nominated for a speech, which he described to me yesterday as “just a trip down memory lane”, but it had substance, and it was delivered with good use of humour, gesture and emphasis. Richard is a very animated speaker and someone who injects much enthusiasm into his speeches, but the most outstanding quality is the sincerity with which he speaks. No one listening to Richard can doubt his sincerity.
The second National Front speaker nominated was Kevin Bryan, the Front’s current Chairman, and like Peter Rushton, Kevin spoke outdoors in front of a hostile media and with the noise of passing traffic to contend with. Never-the-less, Kevin spoke with the gravitas befitting an occasion such as Remembrance Sunday. He delivered a speech that had political substance in a very forceful way, demonstrating sincerity and passion.
There are several styles of oratory, but when the subject of oratory is raised, people tend to think automatically of the passionate and fiery speeches that are made by speakers who are making an emotional appeal to their audience. Our last two nominees however delivered speeches that required them to convey quite complex concepts to their audiences and this required a different style of speech.
Mike Newland of the British Democrats spoke at length about the economic issues that pertain to our rejection of globalism and his speech was as intended, informative, while also being fluid and delivered with confidence. In reviewing Mike’s speech I commented to our audience at the London Forum, that speakers often fall into the trap of using jargon and grandiloquent language when dealing with complex topics. I pointed out that ‘communication’ does not hinge upon how much we understand of what we say, it hinges upon how much of what we say, that our audience understands and Mike had done well in making complex subject matter simple enough for his audience to easily understand.
Our last nominee was Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance who again covered somewhat complex subject matter in an interesting and informative way. He had delivered his speech in a fluid and confident manner, but the most outstanding feature of his speech was the fact that he spoke for around an hour, presenting his arguments cogently and logically, without the need to refer to notes at any point. I explained to our audience that this is an ability that Sean shared with Jonathan Bowden and that the ability to speak at length without notes and without wandering off-topic, demonstrates a mastery of the subject matter being presented and adds great authority to a speech.
Finally came the time to announce the winner of the 2014 Jonathan Bowden Oratory Prize and Mike Woodbridge, who had been Jonathan Bowden’s closest friend and who is the executor of Jonathan’s estate, presented the trophy and our cheque for £250 to a very worthy winner, Alex Kurtagic.
Alex was obviously very flattered to have been awarded the prize and in his acceptance speech he highlighted the unique ability that Jonathan Bowden had to enthuse, inspire and impassion people from across the whole social spectrum through his oratory, and Alex commented that it moved him, to think that others felt his speaking ability in any way merited comparison with Jonathan Bowden’s.
The trophy awarded bears a plaque engraved with Alex’s name and plenty of space for the names of future winners of this annual prize to be added, and so begins the start of our search over the forthcoming year for the next nationalist speaker who will merit this prestigious prize. Anyone wishing to be considered for the 2015 Jonathan Bowden Oratory Prize will need to have delivered a speech somewhere in Britain, in English and for the speech in question to have been videoed and made publicly accessible on the Internet. I wish you all luck!
By Max Musson © 2014
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