Sunday 28 October 2012

BBC Radio; Eye On Wales - 'The Language of Spin'

Good half hour programme on BBC Radio Wales this afternoon about jargon in politics, or 'the language of obfuscation and spin'. Introduced by @felicityxevans, it is available on iPlayer for a week or so. Have a listen, it includes an interesting challenge to the Welsh Government to provide a translation of one of their press releases.

There are many references to Carmarthenshire Council's use of jargon throughout this blog and at the last council meeting some Members mentioned the gobbledegook in the Annual Improvement Plan, they were told that it was really written for the eyes of the Welsh Government. The content was as nonsensical as the language. 

All levels of government are guilty of churning out ridiculous jargon of course, and various plain speaking campaigns have had little effect, I have read so many council documents and policies over the last few years that I find I'm unconsciously using it myself. It's a bit like a disease.

When it comes to Carmarthenshire Council, being experts in spin and obfuscation, it's difficult to pick a favourite but, "slippage due to front loading of external funds" (haven't got the cash yet) and "multi modal parking facility to provide an integrated transport hub" (car park) are in the top ten.

and you must remember the council's "draft overarching tripartite compact agreement" from earlier this year;

"This compact is the overarching compact for the region, local county wide compacts supported by locally developed codes of practice will sit under this overarching compact and will be signed by Hywel Dda and the relevant CVC and Local authority. This compact subscribes to the principles of the national compact and demonstrates the commitment to nurture and develop existing relationships. It also seeks to build upon existing community strategies...." and on it went.

and who could forget this from the draft Local Development Plan;

"The Pre-Deposit Preferred Strategy is an important statutory stage in the LDP process and contains the spatial strategy for Carmarthenshire. The Strategy sets out key plan issues, the vision and objectives, strategic options, key policies, suggested overall level of growth and key areas of change and protection for the County. It also identifies strategic sites which contribute to the delivery of the strategy. It is a strategic document and does not therefore include detailed policies or non strategic site specific proposals."

I've even gone to the trouble of gathering a small selection out of the endless examples and created a word cloud (if word cloud is jargon, my apologies) and Cneifiwr will be pleased that I didn't forget that interesting verb 'triangulate'.


Siren said...

Your post reminded me of the following Dilbert cartoon. When it was current, I was a very sad person indeed.

nospin said...

If any government, assembly, local gov or any other public sector employee writes a missive or report that is not understandable to the man in the street(who pays for it), then they should be sacked.

Cneifiwr said...

Ah, triangulate. If I remember rightly the woman from the CSSIW was also fond of the word "triage". Triangulated triage.

Anonymous said...


towy71 said...

obfuscation is a speciality with CCC and when there is nothing else just say rules is rules

Mrs Angry said...

ah ... slippage, front loading,over arching, robust: see - all dictatorial administrations speak the same language, double speak, its purpose entirely to disguise the malevolent purpose of their policies. Here in Barnet we are awash with the same vocabulary.