Friday, 4 June 2010

Adjectives and Politics

"Go easy on the adjectives". That's Tip Number One in any Do It Yourself cookbook of Creative Writing. Adjectives are the stuff of editorialising, moralising and intruding yourself where you don't need to.

"Lay them on thick" is, however, what it says in Handy Hints and Tips for Aspiring Politicians.

The government has decided to publish the Treasury's database - where the money comes from and where it goes. Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat and Chief Secretary to the Treasury (for all of two days) glosses the decision like this, "The previous government acted as if the public had no right to know where their hard-earned taxes were spent".

Yes, you've spotted it. "Hard-earned".

Well, to be honest,I don't know if the taxes I pay are hard earned. I have an occupational pension, which is taxed, and an income from my business as a stamp dealer, which is also taxed but which does not strike me as particularly hard-earned. I'm not down the coal mine. I might prefer them not to take my money away from me, but that's a different matter. I'm not going to climb on a moral high horse about it.

But if you're a politician you just have to say these things. It's part of the ritual, the tradition and the dysfunctionality.

It used to be said of old-style Communist China, the newspapers had whole phrases pre-cast in lead ready to bolt together as and when the Imperialist running dogs and their lackeys were due for a bit of denunciation.

Here we have politicians who think that ordinaryhardworkingfamilies is one word.

People in universities follow where politicians lead. See the previous post. When you put the word "sustainable" in front of anything you do it just to signal that you are on-message. And right now "sustainable" will do the trick.

Off-message academics are probably an endangered species.

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