Though I consider myself a political animal, I eschew the gobbledygook that the elite political class has invented for itself as a deliberate language with which to exclude those of us who do not belong from its ranks. A sign of the increasing professionalization of the trade of politician, it is one reason why they find themselves disconnected from the real world.
I am prompted to this thought by the evasions of that appalling creature Lady Hodge (she would like you to think of her as Margaret Hodge but in fact she is married to Mr. Justice Hodge, a puisne judge of the Queen’s Bench Division who has lately been sidetracked in to the post of president of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, and is thus M’lady to us peasants and forelock tuggers) when challenged over her peevish remarks about the audience at The BBC Proms. Her Ladyship, by the way, is said to be more of Covent Garden Buff, which may explain her disdain for the raucous rabble that has the effrontery to evince signs of enthusiasm for England and Englishness at the Last Night of the Proms.
As usual, when challenged on her offensive observations, she resorted to the usual ‘taken out of context’ weasellism, so here is the passage in full. So that you may judge the issue of whether she was taken out of context or not, the text of her speech is here. Note that she had just spent some time on some anniversaries in our history and this paragraph stands in some isolation: some might even go as far to say that her nasty spiteful class-warfare observations were not in the lest taken out of context, but in the spirit of fairness, I will leave you to judge that:
But I also want to challenge our sectors square on. I will champion their contribution to building a sense of belonging whenever and wherever I can. But all too often our sectors aren’t at their best when embodying common belongings themselves. The audiences for many of our greatest cultural events – I’m thinking in particular of the Proms, but it is true of many others – is still a long way from demonstrating that people from different backgrounds feel at ease in being part of this. I know that this isn’t about making every audience completely representative, but if we claim great things for our sectors in terms of their power to bring people together, then we have a right to expect that they will do whatever they can wherever they can. I know that many organisations have made great strides, but there is much further to go.
What, pray, are these ‘sectors’? What on earth does this word mean in this context?
This is a small example of the jargon with which politicians and their hangers-on litter their formal and informal speech and writing. I have no idea half the time what these people are talking about and I suspect I am not meant to. Thus do they keep their thinking to themselves, only to be shared with others of like mind and purpose. It is no wonder the public as a whole feel a sense of detachment and disenchantment with them. Eventually they will speak a different language altogether which may prove their undoing. If we no longer understand a word they are saying, then we may want to turn to those still willing to call a ‘spade’ a spade rather than a ‘fabricated long-handled domestic or industrial spatulate tool designed to lift and move material from one place to another’.
Sadly it is not just Labour erks that commit this rank offence to the English language but plenty of Tories deploy it as well, though Labour is by a long chalk the worst offender. One’s overwhelming feeling is that the use of this obscurity is quite deliberate: they can talk to one another in code and avoid the rest of us understanding what a lot of horse manure it all is. Perusal of your average EU document shows it is not just a British phenomenon. No wonder the Treaty of Lisbon was such a masterpiece of opacity.
As to what Her Ladyship had to say about the proms I can sum up thus: codswallop, which is code for ‘balderdash’.