Politicians Under the Microscope

In this election year, and as part of Leeds Lit Fest 2024, we welcome the University of York’s Peter Bull and Maurice Waddle to discuss their recent book The Psychology of Political Communication: Politicians Under the Microscope (Routledge, 2023).

Contemporary politics is mass-communication politics. Politicians are not only seen and heard, they are seen and heard in close-up through television and on social media. In this book, the authors analyse the ways in which politicians communicate with each other, the media, and the electorate; they also discuss the implications of this for democracy and the democratic process.

Their research was conducted through what is termed ‘microanalysis’, the detailed examination of both speech and nonverbal communication. Political discourse is examined in a range of contexts – with particular focus on Prime Minister’s Questions – to highlight the means of communication, and what may lie behind politicians’ words. In politics, what matters is not just what politicians say but how they say it, and how this is perceived by the public. For example, in interviews, politicians are often castigated for their apparent evasiveness. The authors believe that through such research light can be shed on how and why politicians may side-step questions.

However, the authors don’t just concentrate on politicians’ performances and how they attempt to influences the audience, but also audience reactions and the role of political journalism – comparing speaker and audience responses in the UK to those in the USA and some European and East Asian nations. 

So, what can putting politicians under the microscope tell us about them, the media, ourselves, and the state of democracy?


Wednesday 19 June 2024


Doors open 6:45pm (for 7pm start) to 8:30


£5 cash only to pay on entrance to the upstairs room, or in advance via the 'Donate or Pay' button on the home-page.


useful reading:

Book Review: Politicians Under the Microscope, Yorkshire Times, 22nd July 2023

salon partners:

Leeds Lit Fest 2024 takes place between 15th and 23rd June at venues across Leeds. Returning for its sixth year, the city’s award-winning festival of words and thought aims to bring together, and help develop, the city’s literary scene, with writers, poets and performers from the UK and beyond. For more information visit www.leedslitfest.co.uk.