Language plays a crucial part in politics. For instance, a Spare Room Subsidy might not sound like much to get bothered about – but a Bedroom Tax certainly won’t make you any friends.
Lately, there’s been a curious phenomenon in political writing: politicians are keen to be perceived as simple and clear. David ‘let me be clear’ Cameron is practically the patron saint of this movement. Labour’s chairman has told Ed Miliband to use more ‘direct language’ to win voters (Hazel Blears was herself more direct and told Ed to use ‘normal human language’). However, the reality of politicians’ intentions doesn’t necessarily match the language they use to describe them.
That’s why I particularly like this post from UKIP Checker, a website that checks the often-bombastic claims of the UK’s most talked-about party…
UKIP claims to be the party of ‘common sense’ – but, unfortunately, a lot of what it says is nonsensical. The party has, rather cleverly, hijacked the phrase, knowing that everyone can relate to it, and everyone can claim to have it. However, when UKIP talks about ‘common sense’, what it really means is ‘not actually looking at any facts, and instead just going on instinct’.
Ignoring data in favour of common sense is a dangerous thing. It means we stick to the same old ideas that have always been inside our heads. It means we only look at the world from our perspective. And that’s surely not the way to build a successful society.