Mind your language…

Two particularly excellent bits of blogging I enjoyed this week about the ‘cleansing’ spat between BoJo and Bullingdon Dave:

Firstly, Tom Watson MP’s spoof ‘clarification’ from BoJo is well worth a read and Nicky’s comment that BoJo knew exactly what he was doing in the interview looks spot-on to me. And the reference to the ‘Cleggeron’ government – well, I already see Clegg and Cameron as lizards in a human skin straight from an episode of Dr. Who, so I may just have to adopt that.

Secondly, Tom Powdrill gets it exactly right in recalling in this context the incredibly distasteful use by the right, including Bullingdon Dave, of ‘apartheid’ to describe the pensions situation in the UK. Tories in glass houses, etc.

In one of the better bits of Question Time on Thursday night (in the section of the programme focusing on the spat), the historian Simon Schama referred very accurately to the deterioration in language when ordinary day-to-day events are descibed in extreme terms, which leaves us with few places to find meaningful terms when confronted with real tragedy – or, indeed, real excellence. I know it’s for effect, for headlines, tweets, publicity, etc. etc. – but we cheapen the political debate when we engage in it and we risk losing sight of the real issue, which – here – is the pernicious and unjust 10% automatic cut in housing benefit after one year. In a situation when one-half of renters cannot afford a cut in housing benefit, that will cause immense difficulties to a large number of families.

Still, I recall that Bullingdon Dave is well-placed to know the London housing rental market so no doubt he’s very aware of where hardship cuts in…


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