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Caveat Emptor

The opinions expressed on this page are mine alone. Any similarities to the views of my employer are completely coincidental.

Thursday, 17 September 2015


It's pretty obvious really; the actual state of the world & what "the public" believe about the world are not necessarily the same. So if you are a politician an obvious strategy is to work on the latter, especially if working on the former is too hard or you don't give a damn about it. Personally I prefer a politics that does give a damn about the  real state of the world  (otherwise we may all just go and look after our own gardens) but at the same time acknowledges that while what people currently believe is of tactical importance, it is of  strategic importance to change it when it is not well aligned with reality.

One of the battlegrounds is simply over the sloppy and (unwittingly?) damaging way that  commentators, the media, etc. are allowed to redefine words to delineate the contours of their story. Given that many (most?) people are uninterested in politics except when put on the spot to give an opinion or make a choice between one or the other  of the horses that are running, they clearly have to rely on the vocabulary and stock of narratives that are easily available to them (just as I do when I'm asked about something I don't know much about - which is more or less everything). So firmly  challenging media vocabulary and media framing is actually very important. 

Historically it seems to me that the political right have been much more successful at doing that than the left - think of Mrs T or even Ronald Reagan. The current lot are also pretty good at it - how else, against all the evidence, is it possible to persuade the great British public that the Tories have a monopoly on economic competence while the Labour Party is single-handedly responsible for the crash of Lehman Bros. and Gordon Brown incompetent in the way he handled the resulting mess.

All of which is a preface to a new occasional series - New(s)speak - what the media says and what it actually means. So our starter for ten is:

Out of touch - anyone with an opinion that differs from the one that me and my mates pulled out of our jacksies this morning at the editorial conference while scoffing cinnamon buns and talking about last night's football. Closely related to:

Not living in the real world - contrary to the line that the owner of my organ told me to take or that I arrived at after several minutes of intensive research with a few unnamed sources ("think-tank" interns, parliamentary wannabees, people I went to school with, people I slept with at Cambridge, people I didn't sleep with at Oxford...) in a  Soho cocktail bar.

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