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Friday, August 26, 2005

Take me to your leader

Former BBC Political Editor, Andrew Marr, is in the news himself today calling on politicians to learn how to speak human. This is actually more difficult than it sounds. In many instances the ability to speak human would only be possible if the politician concerned became one. I am exagerating of course.

Nevertheless, the revolution that would follow if we were to adopt Andrew Marr's advice could break the mould of British politics for ever. And where would it leave the honest interpreters who have made a comfortable living telling the British public what it is we are talking about? Andrew Marr would be out of a job for a start. As would all those columnists in the dead tree press who fill up column inches analysing the mystic sayings of MPs, AMs and MSPs.

Of course what Andrew Marr means when he says that politicians should speak "crisply, clearly and vividly" is that this style makes for better television. It has nothing to do with good governance or communication at all. And when we do it then interviewers and commentators will respond in an equally crisp and clear manner to confuse the issue once more by seeking to reinterpret what it is we have just said. That is their job and good luck to them.

The fact of the matter is that politicians are very human indeed. It is only when we view them through the television screen that they become less so. That is because Television and its political journalism often does not deal in real life. It creates artefacts to be deconstructed. Its interrogative and confrontational style forces even the most clear-speaking politician to adopt strategms to survive. We are prisoners of the media and aliens in our own land. Andrew Marr has a lot to answer for!
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