Jamieson Launches Campaign to Nobble Newspeak

An initiative by Bill Jamieson, associate editor of The Scotsman, has been taken up by the organisation that campaigns for the speaking and writing of plain English.

Bill’s initiative got underway last month with an article highlighting how political ‘buzzwords’ and phrases – like ‘policy-based evidence’, ‘consensus’, ‘partnership working’ and ‘connectivity’ – had invaded Scottish life,

For the Plain English Campaign, it has decided that enough is enough. Says Campaign spokesperson, Steve Jenner: “It is frequently suggested to us in interviews that it is acceptable for people to use buzzwords and phrases in the workplace. We don’t think it is. There are a number of reasons why.

“If a council, health authority or other large organisation holds a training event, the ‘delegates’ are more likely to spend their time playing ‘buzzword bingo’. This is amusing until you remember these events are funded by public money.

“It also breeds terrible cynicism about the political process. Bill Jamieson credits a contributor for pointing out that ‘public consultation’ and ‘have your say’ usually mean the exact opposite. We have looked at a number of ‘public consultations’ this year which suggest exactly that. We applaud Bill’s ‘overarching purpose’ in writing this article.

“We also call on all public agencies, political organisations and private companies throughout Scotland to run plain English training sessions. These could feature as part of forthcoming training events. A good starting point would be for each organisation to identify a top ten list of buzzwords or phrases it uses. And then come up with a plain English alternative list.”