No argument can fail to be enhanced by an Orwell quote. That's why he's become the authority of first resort for people who don't know what they're talking aboutby Alastair Harper / May 10, 2010 / Leave a comment
Published in May 2010 issue of Prospect Magazine
No-one, ultimately, had a clue about the election. The pollsters, the politicians, the pundits got it wrong. Even the bookies, who are always meant to be right, having a financial interest in being so, were wrong. No-one predicted the result we got or understands it now we’ve got it. Why did people vote this way here, that way there? Why did the Lib Dems lose seats? Who benefits most from a Tory deal? No idea.
Amid all this confusion, spare a thought for the poor political columnists, the people who have to pretend that they can still explain it all in 600 words. What on earth can they write? When a political journalist isn’t sure of their ground, the first rule is to keep things portentous, but vague. Tell the party leaders what they should be doing to make a success of this election. Just don’t say it’s what they will do. The second: when you do come down strongly on someone’s side, refer to a higher authority to give yourself the requisite gravitas. Someone whose authority will not be questioned – someone who radiates an indefinable but unimpeachable cachet. In America, if it’s not God, it’s the Founding Fathers. Over here, it’s Orwell.