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Richard Jenkyns, in his survey of the current jitters about the English language, uncovers one of the iron laws of modern life: the less you have to say about something the more obscure or evasive becomes the language in which you say it. The law certainly applies all too often to both academic and political life.?

Much nonsense is spoken about the crisis of democracy in Britain, but at the start of an election year it is worth asking why our political language seems so impoverished. It is in some respects the consequence of welcome developments: more probing, less deferential…

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