I can safely call you intelligent.
This is a useful word, since being intelligent is a positive, personal quality that voters like. It would be reckless of me, however, to use the word intelligence, since that is a concept people associate with risk.
That may not appear consistent – another positive, personal quality that voters like. It may seem more like "consistence", which Chambers helpfully defines as the quality of thickness, or being dense.
These lexical musings are prompted by the meeting of Nationalist MSPs last week at which they were urged not to mention "independence", but to use the word "independent" as often as possible. This advice came from "positive psychology consultant" Claire Howell, chief executive of the Really Effective Development Company, which, from its base in Nottingham, hands out advice on marketing and "brand advocacy".
To their credit, quite a few SNP activists are sceptical about this approach. I imagine they realise that very few voters would happily vote "Yes" to an independent Scotland but recoil in horror from voting for independence for Scotland.
Similarly, Nationalists activists are being encouraged by Ms Howell to use words like "transformational", "exciting" and "historic", but to steer clear of saying "freedom". I'm all for freedom, even if I'm sceptical about independence. But as George Orwell pointed out, everyone on every point of the political spectrum is in favour of freedom, and democracy, especially when they can define them as they please. A sure-fire sign of a dictatorship is a country with "Democratic" in its name.
I can't for the life of me see why, if you were a Nationalist, you would regard the division of Scotland from the rest of the UK as anything other than freedom, even if I don't agree. As for the other words, it depends. It is dependent (presumably a good word). We won't mention dependence, with its terrible connotations.
Gregor Samsa's metamorphosis into a giant beetle was certainly transformational and exciting and, had it not been fictional, would undoubtedly have been historic, too. It doesn't mean it's something we can't wait to have happen to us.
In any case, it is invidious to single out the SNP. No party has escaped being taken in by ju-ju merchants from the PR and marketing sector. Brand advocacy, focus groups, perception management, and every other bit of pseudo- scientific analysis dreamt up by the advertising industry since Vance Packard first put pen to paper have all been taken up by politicians.
For at least the last two decades, these presentational considerations have been considerably more important than the principles and policies of party politics, which have been reduced to squabbling over that tiny sliver of the centre ground which might influence swing voters in a few dozen marginal seats. Presumably this accounts for the bizarre sight of the SNP being mute on the one policy which genuinely distinguishes it from the other parties, and its odd assurances that a "Yes" vote won't be transformational, exciting or historic in any scary way. Everything will be just the same, but much better.
Much of the blame for this state of affairs must lie with Tony Blair, whose initial success was entirely attributed to such concentration on appearances. Indeed, Peter Mandelson instructed cabinet ministers never to lunch with more than one journalist, so that their conversations would have "plausible deniability", the first time a British Government actually made outright lies an openly accepted instrument of government. In reality, though, New Labour was mostly successful because people hated the Tory party, partly because they had the complacency of a party which had been in power too long, and partly because Norman Lamont destroyed their reputation for economic competence.
But David Cameron, a PR man himself, took the wrong lesson from Labour's electoral triumphs, and thought the micro-management of public perception was what mattered. This doesn't work, especially when you have it the wrong way around, and bang on about tough measures and austerity while spending and borrowing even more than Labour did, or harp on about "all being in it together" while subsidising very rich bankers with billions of pounds of taxpayers' money, rather than letting them go bust. As I keep saying, these policies are neither conservative nor capitalist.
The impression that all of this gives is one which has been reinforced by the Leveson Inquiry, a sideshow from the imminent financial catastrophe which interests members of the media and political classes more than it does most real people, but which nonetheless has its instructive moments.
Much has been made of Rebekah Brooks's text to the Prime Minister, which struck me not as evidence of a too-cosy friendship, but an attempt to dictate terms disguised, none too well, as jocular banter. Similarly, Rupert Murdoch's admiration for, and meetings with, Alex Salmond, looks less like a conspiracy than two canny operators trying to gain mutual benefit. George Osborne's observation that he thought the BskyB bid was just going to be trouble for the Government either way is probably the most candid observation the inquiry has yet heard.
What such interactions between politicians of every stripe and the various branches of media encourage, however, is the sense that what matters is not what the parties believe is right, or might benefit the country, but the way in which it will play with the voters.
Of course, it is inevitable that some consideration is given to such matters – the SNP are going to put the best gloss on independence, and the Unionists are going to paint a blacker picture. But it is a small step from showing things in their best light to arranging the standard lamps so that the holes in the furniture are hidden. The widespread public perception that the political establishment is a racket completely out of touch with ordinary people is, I suspect, caused precisely by concentrating on how voters can be wooed, coddled or won round by euphemisms, half-truths and evasions.
People resist being persuaded, but they are open to being convinced. I fear, however, that a politician saying what he or she really believes in (if anything) and arguing honestly for it (if capable of that) would be regarded as dangerously independent.
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