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expert witness TED talks

An Expert Witness gives a TED talk for Africa

Expert witnesses give the best TED style talks

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day.

I was born in Africa and I am the son of a strong and proud Irish woman. I wrote about what she would think of International Women’s Day here (hint: Mum would be grumpy it was still necessary).

So it is appropriate that this week’s TED talk blog features not just a strong and articulate woman but also an African woman. My mother would applaud. This lady also talks for a better Africa. My mother loved Africa – she would applaud more.

From my experience African woman are very similar to Irish women. They are unfathomably tough, ridiculously upbeat, incredibly and bitingly funny and, without exception, highly opinionated…. Oh and their children are usually scared or healthily wary of them!

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was Nigeria’s Finance Minister and then briefly Foreign Affairs Minister from 2003 to 2006, the first woman to hold either position. In 2011, she was again named Nigerian Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy. Between those terms, from 2007 to 2011 she was a managing director of the World Bank.

According to

During her two stints as Finance Minister, she has worked to combat corruption, make Nigeria’s finances more transparent, and institute reforms to make the nation’s economy more hospitable to foreign investment. The government unlinked its budget from the price of oil, its main export, to lessen perennial cashflow crises, and got oil companies to publish how much they pay the government.

Since 2003 — when watchdog group Transparency International rated Nigeria “the most corrupt place on Earth” — the nation has made headway recovering stolen assets and jailing hundreds of people engaged in international Internet 419 scams.

What she says, despite her funny and cheeky plug of Nigeria, is relevant to all of that wonderful continent – a continent which has so much potential but which has been mismanaged so often!

Her talk is great for a number of reasons. She has several clear and important messages for citizens of Africa and for those who prefer giving aid to encouraging trade. She talks about women, the economy, job creation, the power of education, clever investing, wealth creation and public sector incompetency vs private sector efficiencies. She doesn’t use slides. She is self-deprecating and amusing – but confident at the same time: quite a trick to pull off.

She importantly also talks about how Africa is far more than the predictable AIDS/orphan/war torn cliches. She admits that things are not perfect and that Africa is a work in progress. I prefer a work in progress to nothing happening at all. And where is perfect anyway?

One of the things that you need to be when you give a TED-like talk is be some level of expert. You should be an expert witness – otherwise what gives you the right to say what you are saying? TED style talks are for experts – not copy and paste merchants.

This lady qualifies as an expert witness several times over. She is also from Africa and has “skin in the game”. Her provenance and her credibility and her right to speak on this topic are as good as anyone’s anywhere. Period.

Her talk is not just instructive – hopefully it will also change how people perceive and act towards Africa.

People like her should be heard far more widely and more loudly than celebrities relying on briefings prepared for them as they jump on their latest merchandise-boosting bandwagon.


[ted id=127]


I have worked with speakers on talks that have ended on TEDx, TEDMED and TED stages and am also a TEDMED SpeakerCoach. If you have an “idea worth spreading” give me a call and we can discuss how I can help you maximise the impact of your talk.


David Cameron Please Sir can I have some more

The EU Referendum is happening.

Lots of spin and theatre went on before David Cameron finally got an agreement from the EU. He says its a good deal for Britain. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, says it doesn’t matter anyway.

David Cameron then gave two speeches.  I have been a fan and a supporter of david Cameron since before he was elected – I even carried an I❤️DC water bottle at Blackpool conference during the leadership contest. That was the conference when he gave THAT speech – the one that he worked on an rehearsed all week instead of schmoozing activists. I remember watching him delivering it from up in the gods of the conference centre. That was a speech. It did the job.

Since then I have helped candidates get selected in seats where the selectorate definitely didn’t like David Cameron at all. And I have helped candidates stand up for issues that David Cameron supported that many local party activists hated.

So if this article looks like I don’t like DC – that’s just plain wrong. I do. The country will miss him when retires. I just disagree with him on this topic. In any case, this is too big an event in the history of the UK not to feature some of the best speeches and articles from both sides.

The Telegraph has the full text of David Cameron’s speech including a video of the speech.  David Cameron also spoke in Parliament where he had a swipe at Boris Johnson.

I am sure there was the predictable long-in-advance choreographing to stage manage and present the negotiation – especially the last few days. Still, I think he did a pretty good job of the renegotiation, considering what he asked for. One could also suggest that the very real risk of losing a major contributor to the EU focused the minds of smaller, net recipient countries. Germany certainly doesn’t want to be the sole Treasurer of Europe either.

Here is an interesting behind-the-scenes timeline and description of what went on this weekend – before the two speeches. It might be shocking for some (it certainly was to me) to see how little power the leader of a significant country actually has, once the country is entangled in the political version of Hotel California.

Even David Cameron must have been aware when he sat opposite two unelected officials, doing an EU version of “Please Sir Can I have some more?”, that the sovereignty of the UK is not just at risk, but slipping away. Have a look at that link and THAT picture by GETTY and see the similarities!


America and President Obama seem to want the UK to remain within the EU – but I can’t see a representative of either the Democrats or the Republicans voting to give up control in the way that the UK has ceded power and sovereignty to an organisation like the EU.

Theresa Villiers, brave on so many counts, gives an interesting counter argument here.

My problem with what we are being offered, is that the Prime Minister of a majority Government in one of the largest economies in the world, and host to the Mother of All Parliaments, while in the EU has to ask permission of the leaders of the EU. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom should be accountable to the people of the United Kingdom. Full stop.

Gove Vote Leave

Conviction politician Gove puts country ahead of his leader

Conviction politician Gove Goes for Leave

He did it. He actually did it. Deputy Editor of The Times. Friend, ally and Lieutenant to David Cameron on so many issues. Reforming Minister within a Cameron government. And, stealing shamelessly from Andrew Neil, he has decided to go out on a limb and put his country first.

When I work with aspirant MPs one of the questions they prepare for is “If there was a conflict of loyalty between the local association, the party and the country – how would you decide/vote?”. Gove had a fourth element – his friend and ally and leader of years. He chose well – he chose what he thinks is best for the country.

This makes his decision more worthy of applause. And his reasoning is entirely upbeat and contrasts with Project Fear coming out of the Remain camp. It’s also bloody articulate! This must be one of the best arguments for Leave yet. If only the OUT campaign could think up an advert that took 1500 words and turned them into a series of 30 seconds clips….

Being a conviction politician is easy in selections or when it’s about small stuff. Standing by your convictions against one of your best friends, a long term ally and your party leader is a different beast. Cameron even persuaded him to stand and the Party machinery would have been appropriately helpful. This was a big thing. Respect.

It must be tricky between them now. Things WE Do Not Talk About must be a brand new list for them after years of plotting, campaigning and working together.

What is REALLY fascinating though, is if Gove will end up debating David Cameron on live TV. Out vs In. Leader’s Speechwriter vs Leader. Confidant vs CEO. Consiglieri vs Don. Adviser vs Advised. Debate coach vs Debater. I will buy popcorn for that!

It should (hopefully!) ensure that personalities are kept out of things and that actual issues (of sovereignty and  economic sustainability amongst other things) will be debated. It will, without any doubt, be worth watching and probably be the defining debate of the referendum.

I have always been slightly – I don’t know – almost disappointed in Michael Gove. In the way you are disappointed in a Ferrari that only goes at 200kmh or a people carrier with only 5 seats. I have always thought he could do even more, be even more, achieve even more. He is not average by any measure. His writing, as you will soon experience, is brilliant. I want him to pull on his wellies and get out of the shadows – fighting and articulating for the United Kingdom.


For weeks now I have been wrestling with the most difficult decision of my political life. But taking difficult decisions is what politicians are paid to do. No-one is forced to stand for Parliament, no-one is compelled to become a minister. If you take on those roles, which are great privileges, you also take on big responsibilities.

I was encouraged to stand for Parliament by David Cameron and he has given me the opportunity to serve in what I believe is a great, reforming Government. I think he is an outstanding Prime Minister. There is, as far as I can see, only one significant issue on which we have differed.

And that is the future of the UK in the European Union.

It pains me to have to disagree with the Prime Minister on any issue. My instinct is to support him through good times and bad.

But I cannot duck the choice which the Prime Minister has given every one of us. In a few months time we will all have the opportunity to decide whether Britain should stay in the European Union or leave. I believe our country would be freer, fairer and better off outside the EU. And if, at this moment of decision, I didn’t say what I believe I would not be true to my convictions or my country.

I don’t want to take anything away from the Prime Minister’s dedicated efforts to get a better deal for Britain. He has negotiated with courage and tenacity. But I think Britain would be stronger outside the EU.

My starting point is simple. I believe that the decisions which govern all our lives, the laws we must all obey and the taxes we must all pay should be decided by people we choose and who we can throw out if we want change. If power is to be used wisely, if we are to avoid corruption and complacency in high office, then the public must have the right to change laws and Governments at election time.

But our membership of the European Union prevents us being able to change huge swathes of law and stops us being able to choose who makes critical decisions which affect all our lives. Laws which govern citizens in this country are decided by politicians from other nations who we never elected and can’t throw out. We can take out our anger on elected representatives in Westminster but whoever is in Government in London cannot remove or reduce VAT, cannot support a steel plant through troubled times, cannot build the houses we need where they’re needed and cannot deport all the individuals who shouldn’t be in this country. I believe that needs to change. And I believe that both the lessons of our past and the shape of the future make the case for change compelling.

The ability to choose who governs us, and the freedom to change laws we do not like, were secured for us in the past by radicals and liberals who took power from unaccountable elites and placed it in the hands of the people. As a result of their efforts we developed, and exported to nations like the US, India, Canada and Australia a system of democratic self-government which has brought prosperity and peace to millions.

Our democracy stood the test of time. We showed the world what a free people could achieve if they were allowed to govern themselves.

In Britain we established trial by jury in the modern world, we set up the first free parliament, we ensured no-one could be arbitrarily detained at the behest of the Government, we forced our rulers to recognise they ruled by consent not by right, we led the world in abolishing slavery, we established free education for all, national insurance, the National Health Service and a national broadcaster respected across the world.

By way of contrast, the European Union, despite the undoubted idealism of its founders and the good intentions of so many leaders, has proved a failure on so many fronts. The euro has created economic misery for Europe’s poorest people. European Union regulation has entrenched mass unemployment. EU immigration policies have encouraged people traffickers and brought desperate refugee camps to our borders.

Far from providing security in an uncertain world, the EU’s policies have become a source of instability and insecurity. Razor wire once more criss-crosses the continent, historic tensions between nations such as Greece and Germany have resurfaced in ugly ways and the EU is proving incapable of dealing with the current crises in Libya and Syria. The former head of Interpol says the EU’s internal borders policy is “like hanging a sign welcoming terrorists to Europe” and Scandinavian nations which once prided themselves on their openness are now turning in on themselves. All of these factors, combined with popular anger at the lack of political accountability, has encouraged extremism, to the extent that far-right parties are stronger across the continent than at any time since the 1930s.

The EU is an institution rooted in the past and is proving incapable of reforming to meet the big technological, demographic and economic challenges of our time. It was developed in the 1950s and 1960s and like other institutions which seemed modern then, from tower blocks to telexes, it is now hopelessly out of date. The EU tries to standardise and regulate rather than encourage diversity and innovation. It is an analogue union in a digital age.

The EU is built to keep power and control with the elites rather than the people. Even though we are outside the euro we are still subject to an unelected EU commission which is generating new laws every day and an unaccountable European Court in Luxembourg which is extending its reach every week, increasingly using the Charter of Fundamental Rights which in many ways gives the EU more power and reach than ever before. This growing EU bureaucracy holds us back in every area. EU rules dictate everything from the maximum size of containers in which olive oil may be sold (five litres) to the distance houses have to be from heathland to prevent cats chasing birds (five kilometres).

Individually these rules may be comical. Collectively, and there are tens of thousands of them, they are inimical to creativity, growth and progress. Rules like the EU clinical trials directive have slowed down the creation of new drugs to cure terrible diseases and ECJ judgements on data protection issues hobble the growth of internet companies. As a minister I’ve seen hundreds of new EU rules cross my desk, none of which were requested by the UK Parliament, none of which I or any other British politician could alter in any way and none of which made us freer, richer or fairer.

It is hard to overstate the degree to which the EU is a constraint on ministers’ ability to do the things they were elected to do, or to use their judgment about the right course of action for the people of this country. I have long had concerns about our membership of the EU but the experience of Government has only deepened my conviction that we need change. Every single day, every single minister is told: ‘Yes Minister, I understand, but I’m afraid that’s against EU rules’. I know it. My colleagues in government know it. And the British people ought to know it too: your government is not, ultimately, in control in hundreds of areas that matter.

But by leaving the EU we can take control. Indeed we can show the rest of Europe the way to flourish. Instead of grumbling and complaining about the things we can’t change and growing resentful and bitter, we can shape an optimistic, forward-looking and genuinely internationalist alternative to the path the EU is going down. We can show leadership. Like the Americans who declared their independence and never looked back, we can become an exemplar of what an inclusive, open and innovative democracy can achieve.

We can take back the billions we give to the EU, the money which is squandered on grand parliamentary buildings and bureaucratic follies, and invest it in science and technology, schools and apprenticeships. We can get rid of the regulations which big business uses to crush competition and instead support new start-up businesses and creative talent. We can forge trade deals and partnerships with nations across the globe, helping developing countries to grow and benefiting from faster and better access to new markets.

We are the world’s fifth largest economy, with the best armed forces of any nation, more Nobel Prizes than any European country and more world-leading universities than any European country. Our economy is more dynamic than the Eurozone, we have the most attractive capital city on the globe, the greatest “soft power” and global influence of any state and a leadership role in NATO and the UN. Are we really too small, too weak and too powerless to make a success of self-rule? On the contrary, the reason the EU’s bureaucrats oppose us leaving is they fear that our success outside will only underline the scale of their failure.

This chance may never come again in our lifetimes, which is why I will be true to my principles and take the opportunity this referendum provides to leave an EU mired in the past and embrace a better future.


Debate Prep for the Leaders Debate

Leaders Debate

At last the Great Debate or the Great Bore-a-thon is with us. Guy Bentley has a useful rundown in City AM on the format and the logistics for the night, who stands where, who speaks first etc.

Debate Prep

Debate prep and coaching is standard these days – avoiding the gift of the gaffe is the first priority. But how to win? Or will they all just want to survive?

What will the party leaders be thinking about today while they are being coached and during last minute debate prep?

David Cameron’s debate plan?

Cameron would be happiest saying nothing apart from listing the government’s achievements, talking about his “long term economic plan” and then repeating both in his closing statement. He is helped by the fact that he has the last word and his podium position keeps him away from the schoolyard. He will want to keep above the fray sounding like the only grown up amongst the squabbling kids. Cameron’s biggest risk is sounding patronising and only talking about his Government’s quite remarkable achievements and policies and forgetting that policies are only relevant if they improve the lives of people. He should have a little rule – only use the word policy if you have already said the word people 4 times.

Ed Miliband’s difficult debate

Miliband will want to do several things starting with not being called David and not being asked about David. His is the hardest gig tonight – not least by his central podium position that will make him look like the bullied kid in a schoolyard fight. He will try hard to ignore those around him and look straight and earnestly at the camera. Luckily for him, he is not as weird as his opponents paint him but enough to undermine this success strategy. He will want to ignore his dirty texting and pending fling with the SNP which is supposed to be Jolly Top Secret and definitely not spoken about in front of SNP hating Scottish Labour or the Press and the Conservatives who love the sordid affair.

Ed has other issues though. The SNP, the Greens, Plaid and the Lib Dems all need Labour voters and will all be attacking him for not being left enough, not grown up enough, not having had a real job outside Westminster, taking Scottish voters for granted, screwing up the NHS in Wales and being a remote control Union toy (amongst other things) – while his own team will be dreaming of David.

I agree with Nick – or do I?

Nick Clegg will dream of his first debate outing. Now people know him too well. But. He speaks well and sounds reasonable and can do grown-up. One to watch out for. Again.

The Ones who will hate Ed tonight but who will happily sleep with him after the election

The Greens will be the indignant, ideologically pure and socialist and green hybrid trying to steal votes from the Lib Dems and Labour. They risk being snappy and angry and would do better to sound grown up, reasonable and responsible.

Plaid has a huge chance. They will be desperate to make the most of it. But they risk being tea break time for everyone outside Wales.

The SNP will be focused on winning big in Scotland – post-election niceties will be determined by post-election numbers. Nothing nice about tonight.

Debate Farage

Farage will try to ignore the carefully selected TV audience of 200, reflecting the UK’s ethnic, age, gender and social make-up, and reach out to the pubs around the country without football on the TV. Knackered from being The UKIP Face and stuck in a heavy suit between Nick and Ed, he also has a problem with sweating under the big TV lights and two hours of studio heat may cause him trouble. He desperately needs grumpy Conservative voters so he may be awfully nice to Ed and just rant loudly at Dave. His position means that this will produce lots of shots of him, Ed and Nick looking at Dave – great images that support the Conservative’s accurate point that if you vote for UKIP or the Lib Dems you get Ed as your Prime Minister.

Which campaign literature is the most effective? Part 1. The useful calendar

What makes good campaigning literature?

So what is so great about this piece of campaign literature?

1. It is made of cardboard rather than flimsy paper so feels more valuable and will be chucked away less. Keith Vaz does a splendid version on glossy cardboard in a Toblerone-style shape

2. It has useful looking and non-partisan local information on it – the kind of stuff you feel you ought to have at hand.

3. It is cheap – you can get this type of thing done as fridge magnets too which I quite like – but they cost shedloads more!

But it isn’t new and has been standard fare in campaigns for years. So why does this version get special mention here?


Making your campaign literature work harder

I see and collect a lot of campaign literature. A bit sad I guess but hey – thats what some political geeks do. But I very seldom write about campaign literature.

This is the side of this simple piece of card that I particularly liked and the reason I am writing about this card at all. The use of Simon Hughes’ first name is good but standard so its not that. The cheap and cheerful LibDemy feel is standard too.

May7 Election day

But the highlighted and annotated election day box is brilliant at reminding his supporters to vote. I am not sure how good this piece of literature will be at persuading undecideds compared to other pieces of literature, but I think as a GOTV weapon it is pretty good.

It would make his supporters think – “Have to remember to vote that day.” Pretty good action triggered from a side of cheap cardboard with orange and yellow ink.


For clarity – it hasn’t persuaded me – I think JP Floru would be a great MP for Bermondsey. Follow him on Twitter here.


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