A statue of former US President Ronald Reagan has been unveiled at a ceremony outside the American embassy in central London today.
Whatever his achievements as president, including his efforts towards ending the Cold War, Reagan’s greatest contribution to public life was arguably his ability to speak in a language that people understood. It was a lesson for all politicians.
Sadly, the lesson has not been followed by most of today’s political class, especially in the UK. They tend to churn out words which mark them as a class apart, almost above the people who vote for them (or not).
Take one or two news stories doing the rounds today.
Reacting to the Dilnot report on funding social care, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said ministers were likely to “treat it as the basis for engagement”. What’s that all about? Can anybody explain what “engagement” actually means? Does it refer to holding meetings to iron out a solution? Or is it just mouthing good intentions while the issue is kicked into the long grass? “Engagement” is a nothing word that communicates nothing.
On the other side of the political fence we have Labour MP Graham Allen reporting on how to improve the lives of deprived children. His report states: “We cannot afford to find an alternative to inaction.” He goes on: “By building out the immense costs of failure, it is in fact the best sustainable structural deficit reduction programme available.” “Building out”? We’re talking deprivation here, Mr. Allen, not loft extensions.. Can’t this be put more simply?
It’s hard to imagine Regan uttering words like this, let alone possibly the ugliest bit of political terminology to have emerged in recent years – quantitative easing.
People will have their views on Reaganomics – favourable or not.
But please let’s have some more Reaganonomastics (he wouldn’t have used that word either!).