Firstly, I would like to apologise for the hideous title of this blog. The word “enjargonised” does not exist in the English language but I’ve used it on purpose. I apologise if it sends your computer’s spellcheck into a frenzy.
This concocted term is not untypical of the way poor communicators can corrupt words with the aim, as they would see it, of making the person using them sound grander, important and more serious. Unfortunately for them, the result is the opposite. They are either unintelligible to the general public or leave them stone cold or indifferent.
This is the trap into which many of today’s politicians and their advisers fall.
But not Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party.
I leave aside in this blog post any judgement about the politics of Mr Farage and of UKIP. Instead, I wish to concentrate on how UKIP is making headway with the voters because Mr Farage has the ability to speak in plain language.
I’ve been analysing his recent speech to the annual conference of his party, held in Doncaster. In particular, I’ve looked at some of the phrases and expressions he used, understandable and down-to-earth as they were, and have come up with a few suggestions as to how many other politicians in this country might have opted instead for alternative, jargon-ridden, ‘inside the Westminster bubble’, political-speak.
Here’s how I think some of Mr Farage’s words might have sounded had they come out of the mouths of many other politicians (I’ll leave you, the reader, to judge which politicians I might have in mind) or their scriptwriters:
Nigel Farage: “We are now parking our tanks on the Labour Party’s lawn”.
Today’s politician/adviser: “We are at this moment in time advancing our political and psephological positioning into the strategic space currently occupied by the Labour Party”.
Nigel Farage: “I said we would create an earthquake in British politics and we did it.”
Today’s politician/adviser: “We have engaged with the public, resulting in a strong resonation of our promises as was our forecast going forward.”
Nigel Farage: “People said our support would melt away like springtime snow”.
Today’s politician/adviser: “People said our support would statistically diminish during the first quarter compared to our target figure”.
Nigel Farage: “This party is not about left and right. It is about right and wrong”.
Today’s politician/adviser: “This party transcends the centre ground, aiming to embody the values that are intrinsic to the electorate.”
Nigel Farage: “Our foreign policy is a total and utter shambles”.
Today’s politician/adviser: “Our foreign policy lacks sufficient engagement and requires enhanced coordination across the plate”.
And so it all boils down to everyday language that members of the public understand versus contrived, contorted gibberish that leaves the voters switched off or makes them feel patronised.
If next year’s election were to be decided on communication skills alone, Nigel Farage would be our next prime minister.
Either him or Boris Johnson, although with Boris you do occasionally have to reach for your English, Latin or Greek dictionaries. But maybe that’s no bad thing. Perhaps we do need to have our brains stretched from time to time and not allow ourselves to be dumbed down by the repetition of endless vacuous mantras like “hard working families” and “the right thing to do”.