Last Tuesday evening, just as Big Ben was preparing to strike ten-o-clock, I rose from the green benches of the most prestigious debating chamber in the world to deliver my maiden speech. It was a special occasion in that it was the first debate initiated by the Backbench Business Committee. I began by outlining the catalogue of misadventure that had left me as one of the last of the new MPs to make my maiden speech. This tardiness raises two points of interest.
Firstly, the most widely read Conservative blog, ConservativeHome gave my maiden speech rather more coverage than most others. It would be nice to think that this was because of its excellence, or my natural oratory, but I think it was because all the maiden speech competition was over and forgotten. Perhaps being late resulted in much more coverage by Jonathon Isaby. Even I'm not going to claim this was a brilliantly conceived strategy on my part!
And the second point (more a question) is whether its better to carefully prepare a maiden speech so that it reads well, or just stand up and speak naturally, which engages better with the chamber. If I'd spoken when I'd planned to speak, I would have prepared a carefully crafted speech. But in the end I just arrived late from the Royal Welsh Show, and didn't bother with a written speech at all. Result was that it went down quite well in the chamber (at least I thought so) but does not read so well, and has one factual error (which I'm going to let go) - though Phill has arranged for the Welsh Language error to be corrected. But then I always reckoned that John Prescott was a good speaker. The transcript of any of his speeches was gibberish, but there was never any doubt about what he meant when you listened to him. I've always said that "B*****r off" is a good speech - concise and clear in its message.
Although I've done a fair bit of public speaking, delivering a maiden speech in the House of Commons is still a pretty big deal. The other 649 MP's should be warned that I rather enjoyed it, and I'd like some more.