"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you," said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon."

('The Alchemist' Paulo Coelho)

Monday, December 08, 2008


I, in my innocence, would presume that an important, if not essential aspect of a politician's role is to be a good communicator, which means, surely, that he/she needs to give a nod in the direction of plain English. So, is this really what Ed Miliband thinks he is doing when he says,
"There will be some people saying 'we can't go ahead with an agreement on climate change, it's not the biggest priority'. And, therefore, what you need is countervailing forces.
"Some of those countervailing forces come from popular mobilisation."

Yes, well... You can see the full article here.
And just in case you need any help, look here for a definition of 'countervailing.'
Don't you get tired of the way our language is so surreptitiously being infiltrated by meaningless jargon?


Flighty said...

You surely don't expect any politician to use plain English! xx

Jennyta said...

Quite right, Flighty - I don't, not really!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Saying things simply is not always easy but whenever we can avoid unnecessarily difficult words, we should do so. Ed Miliband is rather like his brother - a career politician with an inflated sense of his own importance. I wish he would countervail down a cliff till the rope snaps.

Jennyta said...

I'm with you there, YP. I'll even help cut the rope!

Arthur Clewley said...

there was quite a good rant on this by toryboy himself michael gove in the telegraph during the week, about how public sector folks now just talk amongst themselves in a different language to the rest of us, a bit like I suppose the aristocrats of old spoke french to each other so the servants didn't evesdrop

Jay said...

Yes, indeed I do get tired of it. But if you'll forgive my saying so, it's a little naive to imagine that what politicians want is to be clearly understood - even when they say 'Let me be clearly understood ... '.

No. what they want is to sound clever, while appearing to say what they think we want to hear, and at the same time leaving enough lack of clarity in their speech that they can wriggle out of it later if necessary.

And that speech of Miliband's is an excellent example!

Jennyta said...

I agree, Jay, but being an optimist, I live in hope that some politician somewhere may some day decide ....oh well, maybe not.

Arthur, you are probably right vut whatever happened to the plain English campaign!


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