As a leading local politician with a stammer I welcome the debate on stammering brought about by the release of The Kings Speech. Not only is the subject of interest but the film is one of the best I have seen for years.

My experiences are similar to those described by Keith Austin in the Guardian of 10th January. I was not bullied at school, but it put paid to learning a foreign language. Telephones were a problem, one of my difficult sounds is the “B” sound. Before the days of automatic dialing (a boon to stammerers) you had to ask the operator for the exchange. My parents lived at Bognor Regis, I rarely phoned home.

There are many causes of stammering, which is one reason why it is difficult to treat. I am not a shy or nervous person, but a noisy and forceful local politician. However I am dyslexic and my thought pattern is much quicker than my speech pattern. I can experience my thoughts racing ahead of my speech, a recipe for disaster.

I have battered it into submission using similar techniques to those employed by Keith Austin. I use body language, my verbal vocabulary is restricted, so my speeches may be effective but not dramatic. I use humour, if they are laughing with you they are not laughing at you.

I was interviewed on Radio Stoke *last week, and made many of these points, the stammer was only just noticeable. If I was of a nervous disposition none of my techniques would have succeeded, but if I was nervous I would not have entered politics. My political hero is Nye Bevan, not that I agree with many of his views but I admire his achievements. He had an advantage, as shown in the film voice intonation helps, English is a flat language whilst Welsh has a musical quality.

* The availability of the I Player Link has now expired.

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