Published on 2 Feb 2015

The language of war in political campaigning

I can’t remember the prospect of a British general election like it, and I can’t find anyone else who can either. Parties split, policies are compromised by proven behaviour in government – be it Labour, Tory or coalition – and the parties themselves appear to be a strange blur defined by the relative clarity of Ukip and the Greens. Not that either of those parties have policies that are clear, it is merely that they appear to be markedly different from the mainstream parties.

The Prince Of Wales & Duchess Of Cornwall Attend Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony

Then there is the Scotland factor, and the coalition factor. The one seems to beget the other. In other words: the rise of the SNP threatens to take a whole lot of Labour and even one-time Tory seats north of the border and Lib Dem seats out of play.

Into this morass enters the battle to interest the voter. And a battle it is. So much so that Ed Milliband is reported to have threatened to “weaponise” the debate on the NHS and now today David Cameron has said he will wage “all-out war” on mediocre schools.

It is as if the politicians, recognising the drabness of their “campaign”, are deliberately using warlike language to try to invade the airspace devoted to the language of the real wars that dog the planet.

Perhaps it is only a matter of time before mediocrity “fights” back with all the “fire-power” it can muster.

Run for your tin hat!

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5 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:

    Jon,

    None of them are worth a carrot……never mind a “bullet.”
    :-)

  2. Philip says:

    The leaders of the major parties – and their policies – are so broadly similar, they have to whip up the rhetoric to make us believe there’s much of any significance between them. They are all prisoners of a ruinous financial orthodoxy that is hammering the more disadvantaged people in this country and their answer is verbiage……so much verbiage for so long that I’m asking my GP for pill that will allow me to hibernate (or at least go deaf) between now & election day. While this may be fascinating to the Westminster/London media political bubble, it’s a lot less interesting that watching paint dry and even less fun!

  3. Nigel Wilson says:

    Would a `hung’ parliament be a euphemism or a mediocrity? Either way it will be neither here nor there.

  4. Margaret Brandreth-J says:

    I do not like this sort of imagery as it affects subliminally receptive minds and suggests that in normal competition violence is acceptable . Don’t we have enough real wars without inventing textual wars? In fact it gives a superstrata to the essence of the spoken rhetoric which we see in historical and religious texts and years later may be taken at face value.

  5. Andrew Dundas says:

    Perhaps it’s also the media preference for conflict stories that has contributed to this mess?

    C4 deliberately aligned the riots in Athens in 2010 with the mild financial crisis in British Banks. As if those matters were somehow related? ! Even now, news editors go for the conflict rather than the consensus, and feed political battles by doing so.

    And as for the Greens. They declare that each nation should be sovereign but they also say that we should all agree on a common worldwide agenda. UKIP also wants both national autonomy and international agreements. Both minority parties provide media with sticks to goad intemperate remarks from other politicians. No wonder we have dreary language spats.

    Would some rational analysis of the parties’ agenda be useful to us? Don’t hold your breath!

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