Newspeak – a glossary for our times

Many years ago, the journalist Claude Cockburn suggested that widely used journalists’ cliches should be translated to enable us to understand what they really meant. For example, he pointed out that the phrase ‘the country as a whole’ (as in ‘the deregulation of the banks/the construction of yet another runway at Heathrow/the closure of some more factories, is in the interests of the nation as a whole’) could be better understood when translated as ‘the rich and their hangers-on’. Ever helpful as I am, I thought I would follow in his footsteps in preparing a useful glossary of some current phrases and their real meanings to assist in understanding what politicians and the commentariat are actually saying.

Regeneration – demolishing council estates

Building vibrant communities – social cleansing

Hard choices – cuts

Brave decisions – cuts

Value for money – cuts

Reforms – privatisation and cuts

Deceptively large – small

Luxurious – small with an en-suite

Hard working families – middle class people with children

Problem families – poor people with children

Scroungers – poor people without jobs

Royal Family – scroungers

Something for nothing – benefits that we all pay for

Loony Left – socialist

Unelectable – socialist in the Labour Party

Extremist – a member of Unite

Dinosaur – anyone who can recognise a quote from Nye Bevan

Centre Left – regretfully right wing

Centre – right wing

Centre Right – really right wing

Migrant – human being

Refugee – frightened human being

Asylum seeker – refugee

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