Tag Archives: Michael Gove

Vote ME!

This election’s zinger suggests Labour have learned nothing from their decades spent on the wrong end of smart electioneering:

Now, whether or not you agree that it’s time for real change (underline for emphasis), you have to say it’s not much of a flag for the troops to rally under.

The right has this right. From Take Back Control to Make America Great Again, their words people seem to have grasped the essence of a great political slogan: that it’s not about persuading of, it’s about tapping into. An exercise in articulation, not explanation.

If you’re trying to convince people of a proposition (such as that it’s time for real change), you’ve fundamentally misunderstood the aim of the exercise. Winning elections is not about talking to people; it’s about speaking for them.

Michael Gove may have been utterly disingenuous when he said – as a paid up zealot for applied intelligence – that Britain had had enough of experts. But when did being disingenuous stand in the way of political success?

A tip for sloganeers: when you come up with a proposal, ask yourself one thing – can you imagine people sitting round in the pub this evening saying exactly that to their companions? If the answer’s no, get back to the drawing board.

No one said this stuff was easy. Those who do it well just make it look that way.

Just pompous enough

I’m sure I was not the only one delighted by revelations that the irreplaceable Michael Gove has been putting the stick about among his minions, telling them they mustn’t use words like mustn’t, and much else besides.

Funnily enough, one or two of his edicts rang a bell with me. I also wince slightly when I see a sentence starting with ‘However’. I don’t know why. It’s what I was taught. I also have problems with ‘impact’ as a verb – though I recognise that it’s now made itself comfortable in the language, and won’t (sorry ‘will not’) be leaving anytime soon, and baulk at the redundancy of the ‘with’ in ‘met with’.  And who could quibble with a general insistence on avoiding repetition, or on being gracious in thanking people for their letters?

My favourite, though, of all the pipsqueak principles is the penultimate: civil servants should ensure (sorry, ‘make sure’) that they have ‘Not used anything too pompous’. Presumably, then, they should use only ‘things’ which are just pompous enough.