Friday, December 28, 2007

A doubleplusgood publication

At last a think tank that publishes something worthwhile! The Centre for Policy Studies has published today a "Lexicon of Contemporary Newspeak". As the director of the think tank, Jill Kirby, argues in this morning's Independent, New Labour has taken the act of talking complete and utter bollocks to a new level. OK, so she didn't say bollocks but that is the implication.
Over the past 10 years, thousands of government publications and ministerial speeches have generated millions of words, spawning a new and often impenetrable vocabulary. Replete with sustainable aspirations and ambitious targets, they promise to use key performance indicators to address the issue, bring about step-change and implement a progressive consensus, to raise awareness and streamline joined-up delivery in order to fast-track transformation. But how many problems have they really succeeded in solving?

Reverse the order of any of these phrases, or combine them entirely at random, and you will have an equally meaningless but portentous announcement providing the full flavour of Newspeak, New Labour style. Log on to any government website, or pick up any government publication, and within minutes you will experience the deadening effect of this vocabulary.
Tell me about it! After two years of reading Government press releases there is little more annoying than hearing complete bullshit bingo coming out of Government department and quangos.

The big problem for me is that so much of this pseudo-intellectual crap has permeated into the lexicon of so many of us. One of the things I personally hate is the phrase "going forwards". This is not just because it is the same number of syllables as "in the future" but because it is based on the assumption that forward is good and backwards is bad.

The publication is a much needed antidote to the some of the very worst crap that people are forced to listen to and/or read. Ironically those that use this sort of language are more often than not the very same people who sneer with intellectual snobbery at papers like the Sun for their "low discourse" and yet at least with something like the Sun you get clarity rather than some tosspot trying to sound like he has more of a clue than he actually does.

6 comments:

mitch said...

Whats that old saying about empty vessels making the most noise.

kinglear said...

The real point here is what has actually been delivered - and in practically every case, it's either nothing or mostly something worse than we had before - and at a huge cost.

anthonynorth said...

I couldn't agree more. However, whilst I hate defending politicians, much of it has been forced on them by the media, who take great delight in twisting what is said in the first place. As such, saying 'nothing' is their defence.
Innit.

tizzy said...

The same was said about Star Trek eg

The matter and antimatter directed into crystallized dilithium are unstable.

We need more Trellium-D to protect us from the Delphic Expanse's spatial anomalies.

etc

The permutations were never exhausted!

Mrs Smallprint said...

I thought you might enjoy this short extract from the minutes of the South West Regional Assembly

Key Sub-Regional functions proposed under SNR include:

• enabling Local Authorities to group together to establish a statutory sub-regional basis for economic development policy areas, e.g. through Sub-Regional
Economic Partnerships and Multi Area Agreements;

• the Development of Multi-Area Agreements (MAAs), the first phase to be agreed by June 2008. MAAs will enable sub-regions to agree collective targets and performance indicators and could agree to pooled funding. The Government will issue guidance on MAAs by the end of the year;

• continuing to encourage cross-boundary sub-regional working (particularly around areas of economic functionality, e.g. City Regions).

The minutes are impossible to make sense of because they are littered with acronyms which are not explained.

Ho hum!

Anonymous said...

What about this from the NHS Institute?

What can it do for me?

All NHS Institute products will demonstrate proven value before they are rolled out through our rigorous process of testing and co-production to maximise impact and minimise risk

* We will make our products easy for you to implement through highly adaptable designs to meet the specific needs of organisations, providing guidance on implementation
* We will actively seek ways of involving the frontline
* We will measure our impact for everything that we produce
* We will be continually self-critical in our search for finding better ways of doing things

Meaningless in any real sense.