Announcing the ‘Political Speech of the Year’ finalists for the Pagefield Parliamentarian Awards with Dods

Monday 19th February

Speeches can live long in the public memory or fire up short-term emotions, helping to shape public and political discourse. Using a combination of oratory, emotion and logic, political speeches can shift narratives, win new supporters to a party or policy and secure meaningful change. 

Working with political intelligence service Dods, we want to highlight the most impactful and memorable speeches delivered by Parliamentarians in 2023, and have sought nominations from MPs, staff and the general public to help us celebrate the best of Westminster.  

The finalists for the ‘Political Speech of the Year’ award are below, with the six Parliamentarians shortlisted having delivered compelling speeches that represent a diverse range of voices and perspectives. You can help decide the winner by voting here. 

Suella Braverman 

Braverman gave a defiant “personal statement” defending her tenure as Home Secretary and her work to tackle illegal immigration, following her sacking from post by Rishi Sunak. 

In what was described as a “bombshell” speech, Braverman said: 

“The Conservative Party faces electoral oblivion in a matter of months if we introduce yet another Bill destined to fail. Do we fight for sovereignty, or do we let our party die?  

“I may not have always found the right words in the past, but I refuse to sit by and allow us to fail. The trust that millions of people placed in us cannot be discarded as an inconvenient detail. 

“If we summon the political courage to do what is truly necessary, difficult though it may be, to fight for the British people we will regain their trust. And, if the Prime Minister leads that fight, he has my total support.” 

Rachel Reeves  

At Labour Party conference, Reeves made a rousing vow to be an “iron” chancellor who restores stability to the UK economy. Mark Carney, the former Bank of England governor, endorsed Reeves, saying it was “beyond time” her ideas were put into action. 

During what was described as the “best speech of her career so far”, Reeves said: 

“I do not underestimate the scale of the task ahead of us, nor the problems we would inherit in government. They demand hard work, determination, and tough decisions.  

“The exhaustion of Conservative ideas does not give us the freedom to push through programmes detached from our present economic reality. Or to take for granted the people we seek to represent.   

“Change will be achieved only on the basis of iron discipline. Working people rightly expect nothing less. Because when you play fast and loose with public finances, you put at risk family finances. When the prices of food and energy and housing soar, it is working people who pay that price.” 

Lord Vernon Coaker  

During the second reading of the Illegal Migration Bill in the House of Lords, Lord Coaker made a passionate address to fiercely criticise the legislation. 

Arguing that the Government is playing fast and loose with the UK’s place in the world and our respect for international law, he said: 

This illegal migrants Bill has been condemned by the United Nations refugee commissioner, the Council of Europe, UNICEF and numerous NGOs and organisations, including faith organisations working in this area—condemned by all.  

“And what do the Government say of us? That we are out-of-touch lefties, trendy lawyers and people who are not in touch, when we are standing up against those introducing unworkable measures that drive a stake through the heart of our international standing—something that we can be proud of.” 

Theo Clarke  

Clarke made an emotional and “immensely brave” speech in the House of Commons about her traumatic childbirth experience, sparking important conversations about maternity care and arguing “we need to break the taboo by talking about this”.  Clarke said: 

“This is the first time I have ever spoken about it in Parliament, and it is probably the most personal speech I will ever give as an MP. 

“Last year, I had a very traumatic birth at my local hospital in Staffordshire. I had expected to have that first hour with my beautiful daughter, and imagined her magically crawling up my chest to start breastfeeding. Instead, after 40 difficult hours of labour, I began bleeding very heavily after delivery. I was separated from my baby and rushed into the emergency room for surgery. 

“I remember the trolley bumping into the walls, the medical staff taking me into theatre, and being slid on to the operating table. I spent over two hours awake, without a general anaesthetic. I could hear them talking about me, and obviously it was not looking good. It was the most terrifying experience of my life.” 

Layla Moran  

Moran gave a deeply personal speech ahead of a vote in the House of Commons on a motion calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza conflict. Saying it was the “most difficult day” she had endured in her parliamentary career, Moran said: 

“We are now over a month on from the atrocious attacks by Hamas on 7 October, and we were all right to utterly condemn the attacks. 

“But ahead of the votes that we are going to take in a moment I wanted to let the House know that today I lost my first family member. 

“The reason why this is important, having spoken about how they are in a church in Gaza City and how they didn’t, I am afraid, die of a bomb – instead they died perhaps for lack of food, perhaps for dehydration… 

“Today, I wanted to vote for peace. I wanted to be voting for a two-state solution, because that is the only way that these horrors will never be seen again…I wanted to vote for getting Hamas out of Gaza, and I wanted to vote for those reasons for an immediate bilateral ceasefire, so that families like mine – but also families in Israel – don’t have to endure this anymore.” 

Keir Mather  

Mather gave a powerful maiden speech hitting out at “divisive politics” and calling for unity and collaboration following his Selby and Ainsty by-election win. Pointing out that he is the first MP to have been born after Labour took power in 1997, Mather said: 

“I know some members may want to close their ears at that fact. But it does mean I have grown up in a world destabilised by the technological revolution, climate crisis, and war, and I will live through a century of unparalleled global upheaval. 

“In the face of these challenges myself and other young people believe that Britain has a duty to become a leader again.  

“I was sent to this place by a constituency that is older than the national average but who put their faith in me to defend their interests, and that is because in spite of the divisive politics that seeks to pit one generation against the other, in Selby and Ainsty we share our ambitions for our community and our country, and are committed to realising them together.” 

The winner will be determined by a combined scoring system, with 50% of the vote based on the public’s choice and the remaining 50% decided by an independent panel of leading political journalists.  

The winners will be announced during the Pagefield Parliamentarian Awards reception on 23rd April. 

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