Throughout May, there was much discontent demonstrated by the electorate towards politicians. A good portion of this was a reflection of the public’s disappointment in policies that the main party leaders were proposing and disillusionment over their constant attempts at undermining each other, rather than developing and portraying their own merits. Another portion of this discontent was in the way that Brown, Cameron and Clegg all sounded exactly alike in their use of uninspired, meaningless political language. Speeches were cliché ridden, uncreative and hackneyed. The main party leaders were constantly resorting to some overused sound-bite or party slogan – ‘biggest fight’, ‘A future fair for all’, ‘change that works for you’ and ‘vote for change’. The whole event was frankly banal. The voters couldn’t even bring themselves to assign a majority to one of the parties.
Just as with politicians, writers should heed warnings about the use of clichés – particularly the most threadbare – lest they should incur the censure of their reader and ultimately begin to lose their audience.
We are all aware of clichés within our speech and our writing. To use a cliché here and there to help with the flow of a quick utterance, or to quickly convey a slightly more elaborate meaning within informal speech, is perfectly acceptable. However, we all know those writers, publications, or even acquaintances where the use of the ‘odd’ cliché is far too commonplace – this is where clichés start to grate:
To use too many clichés is, at the end of the day, after all things considered, worthy of a chorus of disapproval. But it may be down to a chapter of accidents that they exist; circumstances beyond control – but each to their own. Personally they make me sick as a parrot. Writers who use them should turn over a new-leaf; but then again, you can’t teach and old dog new tricks.
See what I mean? The overuse of clichés resulting in the defilement of your writings is just as criminal as continually using a flurry of exclamation marks where they just aren’t warranted.
Most clichés begin life as someone’s witty phrase for expressing or emphasising a thought. Though, clichés that are intelligent are often adopted and repeated by many. Multiply their use by a million, and you have the overused, tired husks of someone’s originality.
To overuse clichés is to have a complete disregard for the quality of your work; you are effectively writing something without meaning. When a reader sees a cliché they skim over it; they have seen it a million times before and it means the same thing as it always has to them. It is not your writing, it is not your creation; it is just a space-filler. Why use a cliché and give up the perfect opportunity to use a well placed and highly apt adjective or a beautifully crafted metaphor or simile?
No matter how hard you try, no cliché will be able to convey the feelings you are trying to portray. Often, the poverty of words can make describing an abstract emotion difficult; but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. If you take the time to meticulously construct a sentence you can invoke, within the reader, the valuable connotations and associations that exist within language – your writing will seem all the better for it.
For far too long Britain has acted with a deeply naive attitude towards India. Labour’s conduct towards the emerging super-power has not only done much to damage our relations at a governmental level – I.K. Gujral, Indian Prime minster from 1997 to 1998, once described Britain as ‘a third-rate power’ – but has also been detrimental to the image that the average Indian holds of us. I had ample chance for debate with Indian students whilst being shown round Mumbai University. Political students, with an insightful understanding of diplomacy between Britain and India, often told me that the former was often perceived as subordinating the latter, through some complacent arrogance that had somehow imbedded itself in the policies of successive governments after 1947.
The British ruled in India for over 200 years, the images of English gentlemen riding elephants and the stories of Kipling are a deep-set part of our culture, and to older generations India will always be that jewel in the British empire. However, we are deeply mistaken if we assume that this shared history gives us any prestige in the eyes of Indians. To Indians, this is little more than a period of history best forgotten.
Right from the outset mistakes were made by Labour about the ‘shared history’ that Britain and India were, quite wrongly, assumed to posses. During the Queen’s 1997 visit, a Band of Royal Marines was forbidden from playing due to its ‘imperial connotations’ and the then foreign secretary, Robin Cook, put his foot in it by offering to mediate between India and Pakistan.
In its final years, Labour was far too occupied in its snuggling-up to China to turn its attentions to the quietly flourishing India and recognise its increasing importance as both a military and trading ally. Once again, embarrassing mistakes were made; notably, David Miliband lecturing Indian Ministers on human rights issues whilst addressing them by their first names. All of which has only served to push Britain to the peripheries of India’s political consciousness.
Thankfully, It seems that Cameron’s delegation of cabinet ministers and business leaders – the largest British delegation to visit the country since independence – can be taken as a direct contrast to labour’s prior indifference, and putting in its place an appreciation and reverence for a state that could do just as well without our support.
That is not to say that this new ‘special relationship’ is completely without benefits for India. The £700m deal between BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Hindustan Aeronautics will provide a multitude of jobs to the masses of unemployed within India (a problem that is currently being remedied by assigning three of four workers to do the job of one).
Furthermore, though we cannot rely on a shared sense of history and nostalgia to support relations between our two countries, we can appeal to the deep personal ties that are not hard to find. Britain has a 1.5 million Indian diaspora and there are 34,000 Indian nationals studying in Britain, and despite the growing allure of America as a place to study, Britain is still held as the highest in terms of repute (in all the Indian cities I visited, I saw billboards advertising agencies that would – perhaps misleadingly- ‘guarantee’ you a student visa to Britain). All of which instantly brings Britain and India closer together.
Let’s hope that David Cameron’s pledges to place a cap on non-EU migration and restrictions on student visas doesn’t end up being irrevocably detrimental towards these personal ties.
The Beeb reported that:
Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed Conservative predecessor Baroness Thatcher back to 10 Downing Street for a reception in her honour.
They shook hands and waved at photographers before entering the building but did not answer questions.
Baroness Thatcher, 84, is one of the first guests to be hosted in Downing Street since the coalition entered office last month.
She wore a light blue dress and coat for her meeting with Mr Cameron, emerging from Number 10 some 45 minutes after going into the building.
A smiling Mr Cameron said: "It’s good to have her back."
This last quote sent shivers down my spine.
Since its conception I cannot but help find something strange about the relationship on display between the Prime Minster and Deputy Prime Minister.
Since overcoming their differences – and forging their new love in the Number 10 rose garden – it seems that Cameron has allowed Clegg to take on an unexpected role, i.e. a prominent one.
Cameron’s conciliatory acts towards Clegg were always to be expected, but a sort of wet, over-zealous, corny comradery has developed on the part of the two men, and frankly it is has started to become unbearable.
The press conference within the rose garden of number ten could only have been completed by a holding of hands, and Clegg’s jaunt down Downing Street to be greeted by Cameron at the door of number ten (apparently budget cuts have run so deep that the PM must open the door himself) as though to welcome him to his tea party was unnecessary and actually quite nauseating. It’s as though Clegg specified this as a condition to the coalition, “and I want a nice picture outside number 10”. More of this odd behaviour was to be seen as the two love birds left Downing Street together and made their way to parliament on foot for the Queen’s speech.
It’s not the coalition itself I have trouble with, in fact I think the two parties bring a number of excellent policies and initiatives to the table (which of course is one of the great things about coalition-governments). But I cannot for the life of me understand why the two party leaders feel they must feign this ‘best of friends’ routine. Do they expect us to believe it? Do they really expect us to believe that two parties with such ideological differences can obtain such cohesion; well we need only look to the back benches of each party to see that they cannot, and one feels that no amount of repeating the words ‘Change’ and ‘New’ over and over again, until they become worn out cliches, will disguise this fact. And was it not only a few weeks ago that they were throwing insults at each other? The particular favourite being Cameron’s calling Nick Clegg the ‘best joke’ he knew.
One expects that where you have a system of politics built on adversary (particularly on the run-up to elections) there is always going to be red-faces of embarrassment after any election that results in the need for a coalition, perhaps even a little grovelling. In the back rooms of ten downing street, amongst the inner circles, does Mr Clegg really hold as much prominence as this public facade would depict? And if so, that leaves us wondering; who is really running the show?