Thursday, 3 February 2011


The Mail have come out with what may politely be termed an 'interesting' article today. Entitled "Labour's lizard king: Ed Miliband likened to reptile by body language experts for bizarre way he licks his lips", the article reveals the mythological origins of Labour's leader in a volcano under the North Pole, hatched from the egg of a phoenix that the leaders of the political parties use different body language when speaking.

Oh. That's... not quite as interesting as I'd have hoped.

They say:

Ed Miliband has been likened to a lizard by experts because of the bizarre way he repeatedly licks his lips to stay calm when giving a speech.

They say the Labour leader's 'lizard tongue' helps him focus on his words and appear self-assured and methodical at the despatch box.

Body language experts studied the actions of all three political leaders and found Mr Miliband to be the most pensive, Nick Clegg the most passionate, while David Cameron came out on top for being charismatic and engaging.

Alex Grinder, a physical communications expert at body language firm Ascot Barclay Group, said: 'Watching the videos of Miliband, we notice he moistens his lips with his tongue - we call this the "lizard tongue".

'Research on this gesture suggests that when someone does this, it is a way of pacifying or giving oneself strokes.

'He is extremely cognitive, in other words he speaks very much from his head and thoughts.'

Mr Grinder said that, despite being new to the job, Mr Miliband exuded a high level of confidence.

'Ed stands with his weight on both feet and this helps to create a level of credibility, he is balanced and grounded,'' he said.

'We see the hands coming together in prayer a lot and this gesture allows him to reconnect with his thoughts.

'When he does so his feet are centred, this balanced posture together with his light touch of the lectern suggests that he is confident.'

However, analysis of Mr Miliband's first speech to the Labour Party Conference last year revealed subtle differences in his body language when referring to certain MPs which could be evidence of future problems for his leadership, Mr Grinder added.

'There is a definite difference in what he does with his eyes, his hand and the length of the arm in the gesture to Harriet Harman versus everyone else, he said.

'He takes away credit from her through his non verbals. So we are curious as to what is going on there and the relationship dynamics between them.'

The Prime Minister's repeated pumping of his fist, with his palms facing downwards, when giving a speech makes him appear 'ready for action' and in control, whereas Mr Miliband often has his hands facing inward which is less authoritative, the experts added.

Mr Grinder said Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg also cleverly adjusted the volume of his voice when speaking to draw people in.

'Clegg has a great voice pattern as he delivers his speech - it crescendos up and then drops down to the start again, this keeps the audience intrigued and we pay closer attention,' Mr Grinder said.

'He would be very effective at giving moving speeches and will come across as though he is speaking from the heart, which is in direct contrast to Miliband whose approach is more "head" orientated.'*

There were two very interesting comments on this article from the company that supposedly provided the 'research' they refer to. The first of these read:

This is an interesting debate and unfortunately one which does not accurately reflect our research. Non-verbal intelligence (NVI) provides much deeper insight into human behavior patterns than simply reading body language. In actual fact comparing NVI to Body Language is like comparing neuro science with astrology one is based on science fact the other isn't. The political rhetoric somewhat amusing and perhaps the real reaction the journalist responsible for this article set out to achieve.

The second:

I should also point out we don't actually have any one called 'Alex Grinder' at Ascot Barclay but why let a few 'minor' factual errors get in the way of a good political debate :-)

OK, it's a lot, lot less interesting than the headline suggests (surprisingly), and based on a pack of lies (even less surprisingly) but there's something else I'd like to look at.

In the headline, and the first line of the article, they claim that Miliband licking his lips when he speaks is "bizarre". By way of experiment, I tried to read the article out loud without my tongue touching my lips. It's harder than you think**. Also, the Mail (and possibly the researchers) haven't considered that maybe Ed's just in dire need of a Chapstick***. Really, it just looks to me like they're trying to smear Miliband on flimsy pretexts (shocking as that may be).

I also love the fact that when they talk about "certain MPs" being a threat to Miliband, they then go on to only namecheck their sworn nemesis, that awful feminazi Harriet Harman. Hey, at least they managed to stop themselves referring to her as 'Harriet Harperson' for once.

 Anyway, I think we can safely file this under "another day, another piece of sensationalist bullshit at the Mail".

As you were.

*I would have posted the pictures the Mail did to accompany this article, but I was unsure about copyright. I tried to find my own, but there are only so many fruitless searches you can do to find a picture of Ed Miliband with his tongue out before you start to get paranoid that Google think you're a pervert.

**I'll admit this is a very unscientific experiment, but I am writing this post at 06.30 so, y'know, empiricism when mocking the Mail is not at the top of my prorities. However, to rectify this, I would ask anyone who questions the validity of my experiment to do the same and report your findings to me, and we'll test my hypothesis.

***I might send him one and see how he does at PMQs next week. Suggestions for flavours? I think he's a Cherry man, myself.


  1. I might be going out on a limb slightly here, but do you think this could have anti-Semitic overtones?

  2. Licking lips is far better then licking ass, one up for Miliband, one down for Clegg.

    Thumping your fist into your hand is actually a sign your a moron beating the shit out of your hand.

    I would be much more interested in why all three leaders, look sound and act like Blair.

  3. Definitely a cherry man. That is all.

  4. I would be much more interested in why all three leaders, look sound and act like Blair

    That would be Tony Blair, Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007?

    I may have answered your question.

  5. Jim Morrisson is going to be fucking furious.