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?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.
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.
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.