Language as Group-cement

  • Kenneth Hudson


Politicians are all the time looking both outwards and inwards, outwards to the general public whose support is ultimately essential and inwards towards their own colleagues. Any analysis of political language which is limited to a consideration of bridges between, say, the Member of Parliament and his constituents is dealing with only half the story. The jargon, the tricks of style, the in-references, the conventions which bind fellow Parliamentarians and fellow-Party members together are equally important, both as a feature of the national life and as a field of academic study. When Neil Postman says that ‘in a democratic society, the language of politics has as one of its main purposes the clear statement of practical, alternative ways of living’,1 he is describing an ideal situation which is sadly unlike any with which we are so far familiar. A ‘statement’ implies that information is set out in a cool, objective, comprehensible fashion, for people to ponder over seriously, slowly and quietly. There is remarkably little political language of this kind about. Would that there were. To discover examples of contemporary political ‘statement’ which are not to some degree emotionally or strategically loaded is a difficult task. Politicians themselves do not usually behave in this way, although outside observers of the political scene may do so from time to time.


Trade Union Industrial Relation Labour Party Group Solidarity Modern Politics 
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  1. 23.
    Dr. David Owen, ‘What next in Africa’, The Listener, 8th December, 1977.Google Scholar
  2. 24.
    Sir Cecil Parrott, ‘Foreign Secretaries’, The Listener 18th April, 1968. Sir Cecil was formerly British Minister to Moscow and Ambassador to Czechoslovakia.Google Scholar

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© Kenneth Hudson 1978

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  • Kenneth Hudson

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