Dear Rishi and Liz…

Dear Rishi,

I don’t train politicians, my presentation skills are generally in more commercial areas. However if I could have changed two things about your debate last night then they would have been 1) the speed: you’re dealing with (or should be dealing with) complex economic issues and they’re not hitting home. 2) Interrupt less, no matter how strongly you feel: you might consider that Liz is out of her depth and for all I know you’re right. If that’s the case then what we saw last night was her grabbing enough rope and you whipping it away before she could hang herself.

Dear Liz,

As I was saying to Rishi I don’t train politicians on presentations but I’ve offered him two pieces of feedback so I’ll do the same for you. First, I get that the strategy was to rise above it all and make sure he looked like the rude and irritating one and to an extent that worked, but if you don’t push back more then people are going to worry about how you’ll cope on the international stage and indeed in the cabinet room. Second, and this may be more difficult, you need to get a grip on your supporters. One of them yesterday was criticising a wealthy man for wearing a bespoke suit when going through what amounted to the most important job interview of his life, leaving you visibly embarrassed when this was read out to you; later, one of your cabinet colleagues accused Rishi of “mansplaining”. For what it’s worth I think he was indeed guilty of this but if it’s left unsaid people will work it out for themselves; out loud from one of your known supporters it starts to sound like a calculated political attack (the ordinary man on the BBC News last night was a lot more powerful when he said it because he had no axe to grind and it was unexpected). So I’d brief your supporters and keep them away from criticisms that go nowhere.

Overall I’d advise both of you to be more positive in tone and let the other person’s arguments fall over by themselves. So less “This isn’t costed and the next generation will pay” and more “This is interesting, how have you costed it to avoid landing the next generation with the bill?” and less “This will crash the economy” and more “I can see there could be risks, how have you mitigated those?” – then the other person has to answer and the audience can judge whether those answers add up.

Hugs (if not votes)

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