Robin Cook’s Chicken Tikka Masala Speech
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Robin Cook’s Chicken Tikka Masala speech was delivered in 2001 at the Social Market Foundation in London in front of the press, members of the Social Market Foundation think tank, and probably other political figures. The speech was also covered in the British press. The Social Market Foundation is a British think tank which researches and promotes ways of reconciling market capitalism with social policy. This means that the live audience was probably comprised of researchers and activists. The audience includes all those physically present at the speech but also the general British public. In fact, the speaker targets the British people, particularly those who consider themselves pure-race Britons: “Sadly, it has become fashionable for some to argue that British identity is under siege, perhaps even in a state of terminal decline. The threat is said to come in three forms.” (p. 39, ll. 5-7); “The idea that Britain was a ‘pure’ Anglo-Saxon society before the arrival of communities from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa is fantasy.” (p. 40, ll. 6-7) The speaker’s purpose is to convince his target audience – those who reject multiculturalism—that immigration and cultural diversity are and have always been part of Britain, and that they represent a competitive advantage: “And we should recognise that its diversity is part of the reason why Britain is a great place to live.” (p. 42, ll. 7-8) Additionally, part of his speech targets Euro-sceptics and those among the English people who feel threatened by giving more autonomy to other UK states such as Scotland and Wales (p. 39, ll. 12-15), but these parts of the speech are not included in the excerpt in your textbook. In the speech, Cook mentions immigrants, foreign companies, and British youth, but they are not the target audience, rather part of the subject of the speech.The choice of words is closely connected with the topics he explores, namely British identity and multiculturalism. This is why we notice many historical references, as well as references to different regions and communities. The speaker also uses numerous words with positive connotations such as: “asset” (p. 40, l. 16), “proud” (p. 41, l. 28), “optimistic” (p. 39, l. 16), “great” (p. 42, l. 8), etc.
His choice of words suggests a formal style of language, appropriate to the speaker’s position as British Foreign Secretary and the occasion of the speech.
The speaker uses the personal pronouns ‘I’ in the first part of the speech when he wants to establish his authority, credibility, and intentions. As the speech progresses, he uses pronouns like ‘our’ and ‘we’, which are important in establishing a relationship of trust and in convincing the audience that they and the speaker share the same values:
“We should draw inspiration from their experience.” (p. 41, ll. 14-15); “We should