Now as regular readers will know, I like to debate (I like to argue, some would say. It's a fair cop).
But my strong preference, heaven help me, is to debate on the issues. Yes, I'm afraid so, rather than using certain stock words or phrases in a kind of game of Top Trumps, thinking – wrongly – that they instantly win the argument. In recent months I have taken part in a lot of online debating on leftie websites, and have been wanting for some time to try, in a public-spirited sort of way, to improve our debating for everyone’s benefit.
So, with acknowledgements to the diligent work in the field of cleaning up left-wing debate already undertaken by Julie’s Think Tank and also where John Rentoul’s iconic Banned List doing the same for lazy journalism (although “iconic” itself is banned: I’m afraid I did that on purpose), I should like to offer up the following exaggerations, misuses and misappropriations for the consideration of the Left-wing Debating Correctional Committee:
The selloff of a public company.
Any use whatsoever of private provision in the context of a public service, whether or not it might improve that service for the users, and despite use of private provision of public services having become an established model across the Western world. To be pronounced with a negative inflection (alternatively, a full sneer is also acceptable).
Real use: neo-conservatives are right-wing Americans, not Brits. They do not believe in a welfare state (which all British political parties, in contrast, do). Some Tories describe themselves as neo-cons, but they’re really just wannabes.
Lazy use: any person using an argument politically slightly to the right of whatever the writer is saying. Wholesale misuse of a word. Favoured on the left as an insult, partly because it conveniently starts with the same letters as neo-fascist. Which, while tripping nicely off the tongue, nowadays sounds a bit ridiculous (unless applied to, say, Nick Griffin). “Neo” also usefully conjures up nasty images of goose-stepping soldiers. See also neo-liberal, n.
triangulation, n., triangulate, v.i.
Real use: a very specific political necessity of policy compromise thrust on
by the misfortune of being a Democrat and having to cohabit with a Republican Congress. Clinton
Lazy use: to describe any argument the writer disagrees with because it suggests a “betrayal” movement towards the other side. Can also be used on the political right for leftward moves. Also often used prefaced by the words “lazy”, “mindless”, etc. All banned.
New Labour, n., adj.
Real use: a slogan (never formally a party or even a grouping within a party), now defunct since the 2010 election, although could, through common usage, legitimately be used to describe those in Labour towards the political centre.
Lazy use: as an insult, meaning any person or argument politically to the right of what the writer is saying. Usually used in conjunction with inappropriate, negative-sounding riders such as New Labour orthodoxy (it being no longer orthodox, but a minority sport) and New Labour comfort zone (in the current context of debate, it being against the grain of, at the very least, the vocal majority of the party). See also Tory, n. (often used interchangeably by same people in debate).
Real use: orig. member of the 19th century ruling class or resulting society, as referred to by Karl Marx. Nowadays largely defined as any essentially free-market society where the state is not in charge of commerce, i.e. practically any mainstream, democratic society and/or political ethos belongs to this category. Modern politics is largely arguing about the details of how to address market failures within said system.
Lazy use: Has all but fallen out of usage except on the left, where it has become so subjective as to be largely meaningless. For example, in the context of society,
That's the first tranche - I invite you all to add your own. More to follow.