The right of centre political think tank, the Centre for Policy Studies has now published:
The 2008 Lexicon - A guide to contemporary Newspeak (.pdf 23 pages)
“Political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.” – George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”, 1946.
Politicians have always manipulated language, often motivated by the desire to create a sense of activity and purpose and thereby to justify their existence. And the language of bureaucracy has long provided a convenient disguise for government action, or inaction.
But New Labour has taken this disguise to new heights. In its desire to be seen to be solving every problem, and by the huge expansion of its public relations machinery, this Government has – whether wilfully or unwittingly – blurred the line between words and actions. Talking about a problem has come to mean the same as doing something about it. Newspeak has blossomed as a result.
This Lexicon contains a list of weasel words and euphemisms with which have polluted the political language, mainly but not exclusively, of Labour politicians and apparatchiki.
See the Wikipedia article on Orwellian Newspeak
The CPS authors call for comments and additions so here are few they missed. Please feel free to add your own definitions in the comments, or to point to those on your own blogs:
- Agent - a job title which public sector clerical workers now have to endure, after they have been plugged into an inhuman, outsourced / Crapita-ised "Customer Relationship Management" system, inappropriately applied to a Government monopoly e.g. see When did Criminal Records Bureau clerks become "Agents" ?
Nothing to do with providing adequate financial resources to provide sufficient men, training and equipment for Her Majesty's Armed Forces.
Synonym: Tackle (q.v.)
- Customer - this weasel word tries to give an impression of commercial freedom to choose a rival organisation which offers better service or price ("the Customer is always right"). Abused by Government bureaucracies and monopolies where the Citizen / Victim has no such choice available to them - "mug punter" might be a more accurate term.
- Liberty - NuLabour only seem to take away our liberties and freedoms, whilst using their Orwellian Newspeak propaganda to claim the opposite e.g. former Home. Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary and now Secretary of State for the Ministry of (In)Justice Jack Straw 's Comment is Free article: Labour's decade is liberty's best since the vote was won even caused many Labour supporting Guardianistas to gasp in disbelief.
e.g. Who is Jack kidding? by Dame Helena Kennedy
See also, Henry Porter's rebuttal of Jack Straw's mendacious Labour spin: What Jack Straw forgot to mention
- Serious - a major failure which the Labour politician tries to blame on someone else like junior staff or outsourced sub-contractors.
e.g. Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling after the loss of the unencrypted CDs with 25 million people's private Child Benefit details:
"I regard this as an extremely serious failure by HMRC"- Commons Hansard 20 Nov 2007 : Column 1101
Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Transport, after losing 3 million learner drivers' records in Idaho, in the USA (why ?):
"it is of course serious"Oral Answers to Questions - Children, Schools and Families: Department for Transport Data Storage and Use (17 Dec 2007)
Note that neither Minister has done the honourable thing and resigned over these serious data security and privacy breaches.
Yes, Prime Minister Christmas Special - Party Games, BBC: 17 December 1984:
Jim Hacker: "Yes, well this is serious."
Chief Whip: "Very serious."
Sir Humphrey: "Very serious."
Jim Hacker: "What could happen if either of them became PM?"
Sir Humphrey: "Something very serious indeed."
Chief Whip: "Very serious."
Jim Hacker: "I see...."
Chief Whip: "Serious repercussions."
Sir Humphrey: "Serious repercussions."
Chief Whip: "Of the utmost seriousness."
Jim Hacker: "Yes, that is serious."
Sir Humphrey: "In fact, I would go so far as to say, that it could hardly be more serious."
Jim Hacker: "Well, I think we all agree then: this is serious."
- Tackle - as in "tackle crime" or "tackling terrorism" or "tackling anti-social behaviour"- the use of this euphemism is intended to convey some sort of activity, such as passing even more complicated , repressive, freedom and liberty destroying legislation, or instituting pointless and even counterproductive Security Theatre panic measures e.g. jobsworth bureaucratic searches at the entrances of already well protected buildings, causing massive queues of people to snake outside and provide a vulnerable terrorist target, which did not previously exist
No actual crime or terrorism prevention, detection, or conviction on evidence, or even the seizure of weapons, explosives, money, illegal drugs, co-conspirators etc. is actually necessary for the "Must Be Seen To Be Doing Something" problem to be "tackled" politically.
Synonym: Combat (q.v)