Mistress of meaningless words

Every political speech concludes with a peroration that summarises its content. If the speech lacks logic, reason and sincerity, so does the peroration.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel” is comforting but quite meaningless. The same goes for “the future beckons us with hope”.

In contrast, there was nothing meaningless about Churchill’s “we shall never surrender”.

Today, the leading politician with the weakest prospectus and hence a meaningless peroration is Theresa May.

I am tired of hearing political declarations suffixed with meaningless phrases like “for the good of the nation” or “for the sake of future generations”.

The only way to test the validity of any political statement is to ask whether it is appropriate to conclude with the words “for the many, not the few”.

This phrase leaves no one in doubt. It is a powerful, unambiguous message. It summarises an entire political philosophy. Once you have heard it, you know the speaker’s policy on taxation, education welfare and job security.

Even among True Labour, lapses are possible. Jeremy Corbyn finished a House of Commons speech on Brexit with “for the sake of the nation as a whole”. No doubt, this reflects his own uncertainty over Brexit.

The Labour Party leader has since redeemed himself: he concluded his talk to the CBI with the words “for the many, not the few”.

It received a friendlier reception than expected. At least industrialists recognise that they will be more effective operating under a government that says what it means.

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