"It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away"
Let's hope that this is the first, last, and only time that I ever quote the lyrical qualities of a band such as Boyzone in an article about politics. It devalues politics and damages my own credibility to appeal to boy-band authority to prove my points. But this article being about words, and the devaluation of words by those who seek to nudge politics in their own direction, I made an exception. In this particular rant, I'm going to focus on the deliberate twisting of language and wording to make political points.
I'll begin with the classic of 'social justice'. As though justice, a concept which has survived through the ages - whose principles are encapsulated by the statue of Lady Justice, complete with weighing scales, sword and sometimes blindfold - could possibly be so devoid of merit that it requires the word 'social' to change it. It does not: the pernicious adjective 'social' transfers the burden of responsibility from the individual to the collective, justifying injustice in one fell swoop.
We hear of 'reverse racism'. I'm afraid there's no such thing. When you discriminate based upon the colour of someone's skin, we already have a word for that: it is racism. It doesn't require weakening but opposing. It is every bit as offensive if racism is directed to 'help' one group in society as it is if racism is directed against it. And as sure as 'reverse racism' is racism, 'positive discrimination' is discrimination.
A related tactic is the use of a phrase to create negative connotations - for example with 'hard Brexit' to refer to any Brexit which actually leads to the United Kingdom not being governed by the European Union institutions.
This article was triggered (see what I just did there?) by a member of the European Parliament from a euro-federalist Group who called me a 'populist' because I dared to say that the language of swingeing cuts being used to describe the Council's position on the EU budget was utter balderdash. It was balderdash, not least because the Council is proposing to increase the EU budget, albeit by less than the Commission and Parliament want. I didn't use the word balderdash, or nonsense, or hocus pocus, or fairytale economics, or anything like that. I was polite, largely because I don't feel the need to insult my opponents to get my point across. For what 'crime' was I accused of populism?
I pointed out that we're all in agreement that in 2018 the UK is likely to still be in the EU, but that we're due to leave in 2019. Therefore the EU might well take the opportunity to prepare its budget accordingly, and to ask two questions: Does the EU really need to do this? and Is it actually providing value for taxpayers' money? Many billions of euros of expenditure will fail that test, enabling us to cut the UK's budget contribution whilst we're still in - and enabling the EU to be ready for the UK leaving the EU.
Well that was 'populist', the worst insult known to a eurofederalist. What, though, is populism? Is it not the expression of the will of the people? For if it is, then it should be worn as a badge of honour rather than hurled around as an insult. And if it is not, then we need to reclaim the word and use it precisely as such. We must take on the insipid establishment cosy career-politician mindset.
It is also saddening that democracy is in such a state that the word 'direct' is now added to ensure that the word 'democracy' is used with similar effect to that in Ancient Greece millennia ago. We now find democracy under threat to such an extent that people are redefining the word - only to mean what it meant all along.
I'm reminded of Humpty Dumpty's phrase in Alice Through the Looking Glass, "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less". Humpty Dumpty might be correct if we did not have such a thing as a dictionary, but we do. It's time to stop allowing the Left of British politics to redefine words to mean what they want, allowing them exclusive and completely undeserved access to a moral high ground.
Back to Boyzone, and in the minds of the authoritarian Left, perhaps a better quote would be "They're only words, and words are what we use, to take your freedom away."