Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Devoid of meaning

I could understand, up to a point, that the shock of suddenly finding herself resident in 10 Downing Street led the new Prime Minister to come out with a few meaningless phrases, such as the now infamous “Brexit means Brexit”.  There was no obvious reason why she should have been any more prepared for the wholly unexpected result than anyone else, and yet she was expected to say something.  Buying time by saying nothing much was an obvious option; but vacuity can only carry someone so far - the point arrives when something a bit more substantial is required.
Perhaps the extent to which that initial three word sentence has been repeated has led her to believe that being vacuous ‘works’ in some sense, because it has been followed by equally silly statements such as the one about a “red, white and blue Brexit”.  She may even think that she’s being gnomic, but sooner or later surely she must be challenged much harder about what the words she uses actually mean – if they have any meaning at all.
I can also understand her trying to call for unity in her New Year message – but that isn’t quite what she did.  Instead, she claimed that we are all already united, in a fashion which assumes that those of us who think that a wrong decision has been taken have already accepted defeat and are becoming enthusiastic proponents of that which we previously opposed.  It’s clearly at odds with the facts – but then, people like her no longer seem to worry about mere facts.
She claimed that she will be “there to get the right deal not just for those who voted to leave, but for every single person in this country”.  That works as a sound bite, and even sounds very noble, but it’s not only meaningless in practice, it’s an impossible thing to achieve.  The very nature of the change in front of us is that there will be winners and losers – that is an inevitable consequence of change.  If she’d referred to the majority, it might just have been credible, but ‘every single person’?  No chance – it’s as meaningless a phrase as much of the rest of what she has said so far.
On the other hand, perhaps she’ll get away with it; meaninglessness seems to be the new meaning.

1 comment:

Pete said...

That last sentence is very telling. I remember how Ross Perot, in the 1992 presidential election, was brought to task for his meaningless statements. His programme was "I'm gonna put Washington to work" and how will you do that Mr. Perot? "I'm gonna clean out the barn and mend the fences" How will that be achieved? "By putting Washington to work"
So on ad nauseum. It didn't fly in 1992 but it worked for the Donald in 2016 with his "Make America great again".
What I find most troubling is that it seems to be working for the PM also. It does not bode well for those who think that politics and politicians should be more than fodder for comedy sketches.