Spin doctoring the language of our politics

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Spin doctors are not only an expensive curse and an abomination in the world of politics, they are also transparent, and you can so easily see through the wiles which they think are so clever.

Euphemism, for instance, is becoming their latest stock-in-trade in their attempts to soften the blow of adverse things that are going on. Their most recent addition to their lexicon is “enhanced interrogation”, assuming, quite wrongly, that people will not realise that what they really mean is “torture”. Another of their favourites, which has seen the light of day again in the last week is “redacted”, again in relation to the report on alleged CIA torture. Dare they not use the term “censored” in case we have to reach for our smelling salts. “Redacted” merely means “edited” and the spin doctors were careful to try to avoid any sinister implications – without success.

A while ago, “quantitative easing” was all the rage. What was really meant was the much criticised policy of printing money.

And remember when Hillary Clinton once described a visit to Bosnia in 1996, she spoke of having to run from the aircraft, head down, with sniper bullets flying all around. It was totally untrue. It was a calm day and nothing at all untoward occurred. It was a straightforward, thumping lie, yet Mrs Clinton was plainly told not to use that word. Instead she said, with a light laugh, that she had simply “mis-spoken”. So that’s all right then...

“Dissemble” is another word used instead of “lie”, possibly because officials assume that no one knows what it really means. Meanwhile, mistakes in official documents are no longer “corrected”, they are simply “clarified”.

The United Kingdom Independence Party, whose rise to the forefront of British political life over the past two or three years has been astonishing, suffered a body blow at the weekend with the resignation of Kerry Smith as parliamentary candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock, one of Ukip’s target seats, over a series of offensive homophobic and sexist remarks.

I would not try to defend what he said, but it is worth saying that it is becoming more and more difficult to express robust political opinions without detonating a storm of protest. However, I doubt whether Russell Brand’s description of the Ukip leader as a pound shop Enoch Powell will do him or his party much harm.