Lord Speaker, Baroness Hayman's speech of thanks to President Obama

Address to the US President, Barack Obama
Westminster Hall
Wednesday 25 May 2011

'Mr President

I think that response describes far more eloquently than any words of mine could, how much that very memorable and inspiring address was appreciated by everybody who heard it here today.

You spoke with great warmth and great generosity about the British Parliament and the British people and about the links that bind us – the values and the traditions that we share, the history we have experienced together. But more than that, you spoke to us not just about the relationships of the past, but the relationships of the future, and I think that was what made what you said so inspirational. 

It was a distinguished Governor of New York who remarked on the propensity of politicians to “campaign in poetry but to govern in prose”. The world that you described to us today was not just one that is prosaic, it was one where the challenges are difficult, and sometimes dangerous, one that is fast moving, complex and sometimes contradictory, and that offers at least as many threats as opportunities. But in the eloquence of your address you reminded us of the importance of maintaining the poetry in Government because to lead, that poetry is necessary, necessary not only to articulate the challenges as you did so masterfully, but also to bring others together to face those challenges with common principles and with shared purpose.

Mr President, it has been a privilege for all of us to hear you speak today, and it is a privilege for me to have the responsibility of thanking you, on behalf of both Houses of Parliament for coming to Westminster, and to wish you and Mrs Obama a very happy rest of your stay in the United Kingdom.'

Image: Parliamentary copyright