Sunday, 4 September 2011
Some things are so obvious we don't often raise them publicly in case the mere act of raising something so obvious suggests we are not aware of the facts of life. I'm thinking of those things we have to put up with even though they clearly shouldn't be happening, but are so ingrained we don't often make much of a fuss about them. Embarrassing stuff.
Here in the UK, a really embarrassing issue is the infantile nature of political language. In a democracy, we should know the government's view on a range of important political issues. When a minister speaks we should understand what is being said. The minister should speak unambiguously, adult to adults. When we elect a new government, there should be no surprises unless unforeseen events supervene. We should have clarity and transparent dealing from our ministers whether we agree with their policies or not.
It isn't like that is it? Ministerial speeches and interviews are analysed, criticized and subjected to all kinds of interpretation by largely useless professional pundits, but the profoundly infantile nature of ministerial language is rarely acknowledged. Yet evasion, equivocation and obvious lies are what we were supposed to grow out of as children. Adults who reach the dizzy heights of a ministerial position should not, as a matter of routine, resort to kindergarten evasions and dissimulation.
Yet they do it all the time - kindergarten language is exactly what they employ. Maybe with a sprinkling of a few grown-up words, but grown-up content - we almost never get that. The advantage to politicians is obvious. You can't make a child use adult language and as long as it remains the norm, we can't make our government ministers use adult language either. Try it, and as with children you get more evasion.
We don't have grown-up political dialogue with our political leaders do we? Pundits may pretend to pick over the content as much as they like, but the public utterances of our political masters are childishly evasive and immature. Like Peter Pan, they seem unable or unwilling to speak to us adult to adults.
What's wrong with these people?