You know when you have to break some really bad news to someone, but don’t want to see them upset, so somehow you convince yourself if you just phrase it softly, or as a subtle analogy, that they will take it in good spirit, and, more importantly, not attack you? Sometimes the English language is frustratingly limited. But what can you do?

Well, if you’re in Government, you can simply convey what you’re actually doing by using words or phrases that are acceptable, even positive to people, so they will then associate something good with all the bad you’re doing, and it will somehow all make moral sense in their jumbled heads.

Examples abound. “Hard-working families” now means: “anyone who voted Tory”. “Global financial crisis”, “Eurozone crisis” and “food banks” are now translated as “Labour’s mess”. “Slave labour” has become “Workfare”, while “actively provoking the next financial crash” is simply known as “Help to Buy”. There’s more. “Enabling Free Markets” actually means “assistance for near-monopolies to consolidate their dominance”, “free trade deals” can be translated as “stateless multinationals plundering all they survey”, while “reform”/”choice” are alternating pseudonyms for “privatisation”.

But my biggest bugbear, the worst mangling of meaning has to be “centrist politics”. I’ve heard this waffled by Labour party thinktanks or “reformers”; usually after an announcement that big business should be in any way responsible or answerable to the laws of the land: “we will only win from a centrist position”. Yet these same types are advocating 2% minimum GDP defence spending and cutting welfare further. These are not “centrist” positions. Most of them are a painful way away from “centre-right”.

This logic dictates that the Conservatives are “centrist”, perhaps with a hint of “centre-right” economic frugality. Yet this flies in the face of all known evidence. Handing every public service over to private interests is actually economically far-right, just as having everything state-owned or abolishing private ownership entirely would certainly be far-left economically. Yet a Government whose leader and Chancellor have both advocated having everything bar parts of the military and judiciary privately owned or contracted out, are laughably considered “centrist” by our transparently pro-Establishment media sources.

‘Workfare’; the notion that anyone, regardless of age or circumstance, should have to work for survival rather than a salaried wage, is socially far-right: it’s the modern-day workhouse, only instead of the upkeep of the workhouse, the money goes to landlords and party donors who get free labour. Criminalising homelessness is far-right. Assuming all citizens are potential terrorists and justifying spying on them is authoritarian to the point of fascist: far-right.

As students of modern British political history will know, this shifting of the ‘centre ground’ to the right was done under Thatcher. Suddenly, the private sector running essential natural monopolies, massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations, and privatising council housing was ‘centrist’. Maggie was of course the master of manipulating the truth. Swathes of dole claimants she created quietly became long-term disability claimants to massage her grotesque figures. Her Neoliberal dystopia became the new ‘consensus’, enforced with batons and misinformation.

The BBC get into the act when they describe Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn as a ‘far left’ candidate. Moderate socialism has never been ‘far left’, unless small-c conservatism is now classed as ‘far right’. It may seem petty, but words can distort realities and create false narratives when used often enough. Real centrist politics would require a significant leftward shift from where we are currently, probably in relation to taxing corporations and the super-rich more progressively, and renationalising essential natural monopolies like the railways and utilities. The body politic has been heaved so far right they now see anything remotely public or progressive as anarchy. Don’t believe the bullshit.


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