Friday, 11 May 2007

Difficult decisions and hard choices

Tony's Blair's announcement of his departure from No. 10 Downing Street has naturally dominated the headlines today. There has been much written about his "legacy". I want to draw attention to one less discussed aspect of that legacy - his deliberate misuse of words.

On many occasions in the last decade Blair has declared himself to be proud of making "difficult" decisions, or "hard" choices. He said this about the abolition of free University tuition in England, for example. I don't think that was a difficult decision at all. Allowing Universities to collect money from students as well as directly from the government (who continue to contribute about 90% of the Universities' budgets by direct grants anyway) wasn't a difficult thing to do. I don't think that the way this decision was reached would have been particularly arduous either.

Let me be clear. Blair's use of the term "difficult" was simply a euphemism for "unpopular". Doing things that are "difficult" or "hard" (especially if you deliberately choose to do them) means that you are courageous, steadfast, and tenacious, admirable characteristics for a leader.

Choosing words that make you sound like a hero when you are doing something you know your voters neither understand nor support is neither hard nor difficult.

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