No way with words

HOW many people, like me, are disturbed by the increasing use of the word ‘right’ in public debates and statements? Our political leaders love it. ‘Right’ has been used regarding two controversial wars, monetary policy, social care, energy policy – and virtually everything on which politicians love to pontificate. We all know some of the worst offenders. Try counting the use of ‘right’ in speeches and political statements. Yesterday I gave up counting its use during a Radio 4 discussion on IVF.

Why do they use it so much? ‘right’ has several meanings of which two stand out – accurate and ethical. Politicians love blurring the distinction, seeking the ‘moral high-ground’ for ideas which may be ill-considered or plain ‘bonkers’. People might challenge policies claiming to be ‘effective’, ‘justified’, ‘comprehensive’ or even ‘best’, but hesitate perhaps to question anything labelled as ‘right’.

Other ‘weasel’ expressions to watch out for include ‘value for money’, ’balanced’, ‘necessary’, ‘good’, ‘bad’ – and, my favourite, ‘fair’. All have valid uses but are all their uses valid?

Bob Hyslop