Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Language Watch

There was something wrong with an interview Iain Duncan-Smith did last week on the Today programme but it has taken me a while for the penny to drop as to what. This is not about the content of his welfare reform package. Others will be able to pick the bits out of that much better than I. My one criticism, politically, is that a coalition government is a fudged government, a government without a democratic mandate and consequently it worries me profoundly how many major reforms are being pushed through without the country having voted for them. I say this as a political liberal although I don't necessarily ally that view with the views of the Liberal Democrats at all times.

No, my problem was with the word 'we.' In referring to an act carried out by the New Labour government a few years ago, with which he agreed, he said 'We have ... (done this thing which was good).' Which is great as a sign of co-operation and continuity if there is consistency. On talking about something the previous government did with which he disagrees will he equally claim that 'we.' I doubt it.

I resolve afresh to watch out for such linguistic creativity - taking credit for the good things a previous administration did whilst distancing yourself from their flaws. We won't be fooled.

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