Thursday, 10 September 2009

An early leader


 Our esteemed Prime Minister, becoming justifiably famous for his convoluted language, still has ground to make up if he is to emerge a winner in this year’s Plain English Golden Bull award. The early favourite in the contest, run by the Plain English Campaign, is this 102-word quote taken from the Association of Chief Police Officer’s (ACPO) response to the UK Government’s green paper on policing.
The promise of reform which the Green Paper heralds holds much for the public and Service alike; local policing, customized to local need with authentic answerability, strengthened accountabilities at force level through reforms to Police Authorities and HMIC, performance management at the service of localities with targets and plans tailored to local needs, the end of centrally engineered one size fits all initiatives, an intelligent approach to cutting red tape through redesign of processes and cultures, a renewed emphasis on strategic development so as to better equip our Service to meet the amorphous challenges of managing cross force harms, risks and opportunities.”
Perhaps Kevin Rudd will fare better in the secondary Foot in Mouth contest. This award, first given in 1993, is for a baffling comment by a public figure.
Last year the departing US President George W Bush did not leave the White House empty handed. He was given a Foot in Mouth Lifetime Achievement Award for his services to gobbledygook.
I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe  — I believe what I believe is right.” (Rome, July 22, 2001).
The above has a similar ring to one of the previous Foot in Mouth winners, a fellow Statesman, Donald Rumsfeld, with his “known knowns”. But it could be said that President Bush made Foot in Mouth his very own, covering a wide range of subjects including clear communications.
I hope you leave here and walk out and say, ‘what did he say?’” (Beaverton, Oregon August 13 2004).
Plain English Campaign believes that President Bush captures the spirit of every true gobbledygooker when he says, surprisingly plainly:
Let me put it to you bluntly. In a changing world, we want more people to have control over your own life” (Annandale, Va August 9 2004).
Crikey readers might like to put their favourite Kevin Rudd quotations as a comment to this story. I will forward them to the contest organisers en masse in an attempt to convince the judges that Australia has a worthy contender.
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