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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Where has all the poetry gone from politics?

Reading Graham Henry's account of the war of words between Labour and the Conservatives in today' s Wales on Sunday, I was left lamenting the apparent death of oratory in today's poltics. In short the poetry and wordcraft contained in the speeches of William Gladstone, Lloyd George, Aneurin Bevan, Winston Churchill and Roy Jenkins, to name but a few, seems to belong to a long-gone era.

Carwyn Jones has complained that the Conservatives have declared a war on Wales, whilst David Cameron, in what must be the clumsiest turn of phrase ever used by a British Prime Minister, claimed that Offa's Dyke forms a line between life and death. That may have been the case in medieval times when opposing armies sat either side of it, but it is no way to talk of the Welsh health service.

Mr Cameron said Carwyn Jones was “sinking the hopes of a generation”, whilst Welsh Conservative Leader, Andrew RT Davies used an interview before the conference to compare Mr Jones to a “tin-pot dictator from Eastern Europe." Had he honestly thought through that allusion?

The language of politics is being reduced to the level of a school debating society, but without the vision, the carefully-crafted metaphor or the tightly argued rebuttal that even those contests can rise to.
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