Monday, May 29, 2006
The Verbal Tics Of Mr Blair And Mr Cameron: A Translation For The Politically Bamboozled
As a seasoned thespian and judge of amateur theatrics, I am familiar with vocal tics and verbal hiccoughs. In recent years, I have grown to admire the performances of the Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, who employs the persuasive pleading of a promenade preacher from a Summer Mission, ordering his congregation into submission with a sudden descent from high-flown rhetoric into the demotic prompting of a propelling pencil salesman. Most often, he will use impatience, pressing the word "look" into service, when what he really means is "listen".
On listening to Mr David Cameron's performance on Desert Island Discs, it became clear that the Conservative leader has appropriated Mr Blair's style, venturing even further into chattiness. Instead of "look", he uses the phrase "you know", implying that what is saying is no more than common sense, when frequently it is neither common, nor sense. A useful corrective to this approach is to insert a different phrase every time the verbal hiccough is employed. A substitute for Mr Blair's "listen" is "I am losing the argument and am now about to patronise you into submission". For Mr Cameron's "you know", try "I am irredeemably posh, and am assuming that this is persuasive".