Saturday 3 December 2016

Enough of the Orwellian Newspeak -- I'm tuning out

Published 26/02/2011 | 05:00

By the time you read this, the election campaign will be over. And barring some extraordinary happening -- I mean "Colonel Gaddafi landing at Inch Strand and taking over Ireland" extraordinary -- Enda Kenny is home and hosed.

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Clearly the incumbents have been feeling the pressure, but still they fight on. Fianna Fail chief Micheál Martin's performance on Today with Pat Kenny (Radio 1), answering listeners' questions, was remarkable for two things.

First, the fact that he continues to fight, despite all evidence suggesting it's futile. You have to commend the man's persistence, if not his policies.

And second, the way he's still trying to deny responsibility for this disaster, despite being a member of Cabinet for 14 years.

"That's a situation we would be prepared to review."

"It's a European banking problem, not just an Irish problem."

"I don't accept that nothing has happened." And my favourite piece of nonsensical flim-flam all week: "I wrote, in writing, to the Department of Education."

Oh, enough, enough, enough. Having said that, Martin may be one of the worst offenders, but politicians in general are difficult to listen to, aren't they?

Having endured weeks of debates, interviews, sound-bites, quotes, tiffs and rants, I feel almost physically ill at the thought of any more.

It's the language and speaking patterns of politicians and public figures that's so hard to stomach: all that circumlocution, jargon, tautology and sophistry. It's creepy, unnerving and horrible to listen to; it nearly makes the skin crawl.

A lot of the time these people are literally inhuman-sounding, and it all reminds me of the mechanistic gabble of George Orwell's Newspeak from 1984: words from the back-brain, a wilful negation of conscious thought. They don't sound like human beings. They sound like machines.

I'm trying to think of a moment from the campaign when a politician said something that didn't sound rehearsed, pre-formulated, "on-message". It's hard to come up with one, and I think I've had enough now.

Morning Ireland, Today with PK, Newstalk Breakfast, News at One, Coleman at Large, The Dunphy Show, Lunchtime, Drivetime, Late Debate, The Last Word and all the rest: I feel we need a break from each other. And it's not me: it's you.

dmcmanus@independent.ie

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