Connoisseur of Scottish politics will be familiar with the woolly Nrespeak that has become the day-to-day language of politicos, mandarins and wannabes who swim and survive in its murky waters. It creates a world where only opponents make mistakes, commitments are malleable, “progress” can be used as a slippery verb and answers to direct questions always answer a different question.
Providing your own career/hopes/job lie elsewhere, all this can be entertaining. But, for those whose idealism has not been drowned in Newspeak obfuscation gushing from Holyrood and town halls alike, two decades of devolution has not differentiated Scotland from the yah-boo-sucks bear-pit that is Westminster. This is now seems to apply within— As well as between—parties. Take this month’s exchange (reported in Holyrood Magazine) between Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Worth Keith Brown (ex-marine, former council leader and non-numpty decent guy) and Holyrood Local Government and Communities Committee chair Bob Doris (long-time Glasgow grassroots street activist, now MSP).
Just the complexity of their job titles hinte that what either of them say may not be as crisp and clear as mere mortals would prefer. It is probably unfair to pick on Keith and Bob (who usually do better) when so many others getting paid £50,000 for waffle exist.
The Gilded Balloon Award for “saying nothing with many ill-defined big words” does go to the two of them for the following guff on City Region Deals. They win jointly for the sheer scale of woolly Newspeak used. It is so woolly, it could as easily be about turnip production or the safe limit on the number of qualified angels permitted to dance on a union-approved pinhead:
The Scottish Government has responded to concerns Holyrood’s Local Government and Communities Committee highlighted about Scotland’s city region deals.In January, the committee said the deals have “significant issues” which must be addressed.
The deals, which have seen a £3.3bn investment in Scotland so far, were extended to Scotland as a partnership between the UK Government, the Scottish Government, local authorities and other partners to boost jobs and grow regional economies.
Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Keith Brown wrote to committee convener Bob Doris.
He said: “The way that growth deals are developed is an evolutionary process. In our on-going engagement with partnerships and the UK Government, we will be mindful of all of the recommendations made by the Committee.
“In particular, we will focus on issues linked to transparency of investment and partnership inclusivity. As we move forward, it will be increasingly important to see growth deal investments as part of a Regional Economic Partnership’s entire effort to achieve accelerated inclusive growth.”
Doris said: “We wanted greater clarity around the pursuit of economic growth by the UK Government and inclusive growth as pursued by the Scottish Government. This has been accepted by the Scottish Government and hopefully the UK Government will soon follow suit to deliver the partnership work we all want to see.
“These economic growth deals have the potential to raise communities out of poverty and transform people’s lives, but only if they are delivered properly. We recognise that city region deals are still in the very early days of their lifespan and our committee will be keeping a close eye on their progress in the future.”
…erm…whit? “…engagement with partnerships…”? “…accelerated partnership inclusivity…”? “…inclusive growth…”? Where, outside of a cosily pensioned bureaucracy, do people talk like that? We;re talking £3.3 billion of public money in City Deals—£638 for each of us in Scotland. If some kind reader could clarify from the above just where all that money will gor—even in general terms—everyone else would be most grateful.
But, as a matter of urgency, hey should also send it along to Keith and Bob, who have clearly spent so much time breathing Holyrood’s febrile atmosphere that they need an urgent refresher course in Plain English—especially the meaning of the word “transparent”.