6 thoughts on “PC Plod”

  1. I find Ms Turner’s statement (duly repeated in the Guardian) that she ‘refutes’ the charges ‘absolutely’ rather puzzling. I may be wrong, but I always thought ‘refute’ meant to prove something to be erroneous. But there is no mention of Ms Turner offering an ‘absolute’ (no idea what that might mean; decisive? Certain?) refutation of the charges. Furthermore, it seems to me that saying ‘I refute x’ is itself rather silly — shouldn’t one say ‘I have refuted x’ or ‘I will refute x’, if one has done so or can do so? Surely she meant to say ‘I deny the charges’, or some such?
    Another example of the Blairite trick of mis-using words — but is it mere pomposity combined with ignorance, or an attempt to try to convince people that the charges actually have been refuted (based on the idea that the papers will trumpet ‘aide “refutes” charges’, and people will think that the aide actually has refuted the charges)?

  2. P.S. I’m not sure, though, whether even such blatant mis-use of words is deserving of a pre-dawn visit from the police. Surely they could have waited until after breakfast?

  3. I am glad someone else shared my horripilation at the misuse of “refute”. When I read the Grauniad headline, I thought, “That was over quickly!” It wasn’t/isn’t, of course…

  4. Didn’t Alan Davies correct Stephen Fry on this very misuse on QI once?

    I think there is one instance – and only one – (no, there are two! dammit) where you refute in the present tense eg by saying/writing now, as opposed to something you have (just) said or written: that is “I am not dead, and I refute that allegation by speaking to you” and “I am not mute/illiterate, etc.” Otherwise it is, as Josh says, very silly.

    Chris is right that it’s not New Labour machinations, but I think that Josh is also right in that it’s strongly correlated with pomposity. But politicians have always been pompous (or most of them have) and they’ve always liked phrases that add a little self-importance. So it’s more an ego thing – which is spread pretty liberally among the upper echelons of business, public bodies – universities, government, the arts – and politics rather than a New Labour thing. These egoists (and I think Oliver Kamm and Stephen Pollard are also of this type) have gravitated to New Labour recently and will doubtless gravitiate elsewhere pretty soon.

  5. I also liked tehgraun’s leader column today, which raised a question over the “theatrical” nature of the arrest, as if to imply that turning up at RT’s home when nobody was looking was somehow more “theatrical” than rocking up in work hours to No 10 Downing Street in front of the cameras.

    (If it was so theatrical, then why wasn’t the media able to break the story for well over six hours after it happened?)

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