October 5, 2010
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
In case you missed it, since Monday an “Irish-related” attack on Britain has been “a strong possibility”. At the same time, an al-Qaida attack is “highly likely” and “only a matter of time”. This presumably means one will occur – though, since August 2006, when this alarmist language was first to put us on continuous alert, terrorism has been like mad flu disease, afflicting Whitehall but strangely absent from the nation at large.
I hesitate to tempt fate, but this dog’s dinner of nouns and qualifiers cannot mean anything to the general public. Rather than describing a menace to the British state, the words are more a comment on English teaching in schools. They are verbal garbage, reflecting a habit of bureaucratic mind and relieving public services – airport security, railway guards, traffic police – of the need for courtesy. They just want to keep the public scared and paying taxes.