Today’s internet sensation

Posted by on Mar 27, 2009 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments


A number of news sites have picked up on this unlikely political micro-celebrity, MEP Daniel Hannan whose anti-Gordon Brown speech has garnered a huge amount of views on Youtube

So I think it's interesting to see the ways we are explaining how has it become such a "success"? Even he's a bit bemused by it all

A lot of the (politically) sympathetic commentators want to to trace something about the content itself to explain the popularity. I'm sure he's a very nice fella, but let's be clear neither he nor the speech is particularly insightful, novel or compelling in itself. And that's being nice about him* and it, too.

No, the 'thing' itself is not a great explanation.

Nor is the closely related 'spirit of the age' explanation much cop – that this is what we all (more or less secretly) feel about the British PM and that's what this film is saying on our behalf. Again, it's hardly the first time these kind of arguments have been aired and hardly the best, most authentic or compelling version.

The truth is the film has been re-broadcast and endorsed by the likes of Limbaugh and the Drudge report – this helps deliver the kind of numbers of first timers (and broadcast is the word, here)

But more profoundly – as with much online stuff – it seems to be just one of those things: something had to be popular; as with all things that spread through random copying, what gets to be popular is very much a lottery. (What we don't bother thinking about – as the Black Swan would chastise
us for – is all the other speeches that didn't become successful)

Ask yourself this: if you were to try to replicate the success of this rather banal piece of political speechifying, which features would you try to replicate? The casting, the argument and the delivery or the links and the luck that's clear after the fact?

I know where my money is!

*He has some dodgy previous, it must be said


  1. David Barnes
    March 27, 2009

    I am sure you’re right that the popularity of this is “just one of those things”.
    I saw the speech on YouTube last night just like everybody else. It was such a sustained, deliberate attack — and we don’t get to see so much of that these days. I think the reason people like it is because it provides an antithesis to “sound byte politics”. You don’t need to agree with it to appreciate it.

  2. Andy Bell
    April 8, 2009

    I think you are wrong to call it ‘a banal piece of political speechifying’.
    For me the quality of the speech is what made it spread. Daniel Hannan expressed a view that a fair few people are thinking but that rarely gets aired eloquently. It was even more compelling because he expressed that view directly to Gordon Brown.
    Plus, the clip contains a magic comedy moment when it cuts to Gordon Brown’s weird grin.

  3. Katie
    April 8, 2009

    I agree with Daved.
    I think the reason it spread so fast is that we are not used to hearing oratory. Politicians, if they want to succeed have to be great public speakers and this is old school quality. He speaks with conviction, he appears to have the facts at his finger tips, he is understantable, Gordon looks cowed – hence we are impressed. It’s well known that Iain Duncan-Smith was a great speaker at the box, but where that used to be enough for a man to lead the country, in the age of mass media they also have to look attractive and “give good soundbite.”
    Combine great speaking with zeitgeist and you get something that does the rounds.