Opinion

Words, Armando, and the day we’re in today

"The present level of political discourse is shocking – the same bland soundbites and empty on-message messages"

Politician talking

Words matter. Hugely, unquestionably. Bigly. See what I did there…

This sounds like the most basic of ideas. But increasingly it feels like it is being forgotten, at least by those who have the ability to make it really count.

The present level of political discourse is shocking. The flannel and empty rhetoric, the poor speeches, the meaningless doublespeak is at epidemic levels. Mhairi Black aside, I can’t remember the last time I heard a serious political speech with substance.

I can’t remember the last time I heard a serious political speech with substance

I don’t just blame the leader of the free world for dragging things down. Though his obsession with 140 characters as a way of telling his truth has utterly changed how the land lies.

I’m not expecting the Gettysburg Address from political leaders at every turn, but gimme something. At least a coherent, reasoned argument. And not a repetition of the same empty on-message message. This has become the default, believing that the same bland soundbite repeated constantly is enough. Say something! Stop being fearful. Have a backbone!

It’s got to the point where Liam Gallagher is making the most expressive, meaningful contemporary intervention on free movement in a post-Brexit Britain. (Google it). This is hardly surprising as many of the seers, the commentators, the commentariat, as many of the commentariat sneeringly call the commentariat, are involved in showing how they are much cleverer and the political opposite of their opposing number in the commentariat.

Last week, as news of the odious monster Harvey Weinstein grew ever more distended, it became a politically charged issue. Which confused me, as I thought it was about how some men, in this case one in particular, were bullying, aggressive, arrogant, sexually abusive creeps who felt they had a right to behave in certain ways against women.

Silly me, turns out it was really about some women (of the left) like Emma Thompson and Hillary Clinton, who didn’t speak up early enough. The bloody liberal elite.

This week, into this mire, we have Armando Iannucci. Thankfully. For more than 25 years he has been showing how words change the thing, how politics and frequently the news that carries the words, is so much empty baloney.

He explains why he wanted to make a mag that engages “people and ideas coming from a point of view different to their own”. He has brought back the great spin king Malcolm Tucker to do just this. With Alan Partridge.

Working on a guest-edited edition is always fun. It’s one of the perks of this job. To be able to do this with the great Armando Iannucci has been a total joy. And timely. Bigly.

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