Rees-Mogg might have a point. This time.

ITV has broken the news of the Leader of the House’s style guide.  There is a lot of focus on what modern sensibilities see as the nonsense of addressing me as Mr. Andrew Boal, Esq., and the use of imperial measures (a massive piece of virtue signalling for little practical purpose) but there is a very interesting point: the list of banned words and phrases.

  • Very
  • Due to
  • Ongoing
  • Hopefully
  • Unacceptable
  • Equal
  • Too many ‘I’s
  • Yourself
  • Lot
  • Got
  • Speculate
  • ‘invest’ (in schools etc)
  • No longer fit for purpose
  • I am pleased to learn
  • Meet with
  • Ascertain
  • Disappointment
  • I note/ understand your concerns

Years ago, I had a short and worthwhile correspondence with Lady Sylvia Hermon as my then MP.  The letter she sent me was written in her own personal voice – and that’s what came to my mind when I saw this list.

Imagine if MPs, MLAs and councillors weren’t allowed to be pleased to learn anything, note our concerns, tell us how unacceptable things are, or share our disappointment.  Imagine if a ban on using catchphrases meant that they had to write things of substance – taken to its logical conclusion, if adopted by our elected representatives, Rees-Mogg’s list ought to lead to plain English and increased frankness.

Logical conclusions.  Plain English, and frankness.  Somehow, especially with the new Government, I think I needn’t bother holding my breath.