29 Apr 2008

The evolution of Engkeylish - the art of double speak

When one begins to adopt another's clothing in an attempt to persuade an audience there is nothing to be afraid of one must develop a language which allows the Pretender to say one thing to an audience but another to the select group who are supporting him. So it is with the National Party which as adopted what can be best described as "engkeylish" - the phrases given to the Party spokesperson by the policy controller to explain their policy.
One of the key indicators of this is the use, in press releases and speeches, of the words: "Strugglers" and "Battlers" who will all be living at addresses along "Struggle Street." These descriptors will be trotted out by speakers of Engkeylish at every opportunity - usually tied to the phrase "relief from the tax burden." The phrase and linkage will provide the panacea mantra response to any questions about National Party policy as in:
Q: What does National propose to do to improve industrial relations?'
A: Under the National those battlers living on Struggle Street will find that lifting of the tax burden will mean that their working conditions will improve."
Q: Will workers expect higher wages under a National Government?
A: Under the National those battlers living on Struggle Street will find that lifting of the tax burden will mean that their wages will increase.
Of course the required follow-up question " Does that mean Employers will argue that because there has been tax relief they're no longer obligated to improve working conditions and / or wages?" will not be answered or likely to be asked as the speaker moves onto the next question.
This response mantra is typical of the "engkeylish" speaker, the doublespeak developed by Bill English and given to John Key to deliver in the required 8 second sound bite that passes for policy.
Given that one would expect the media to have a long term political memory one should expect the next question that the speaker acknowledges should be: "How come those very same working battlers and strugglers you are now championing were and are in other fora labelled by your party colleagues as "work shy" and "bludgers" (usually as "dole or benefit bludgers")?
But in the world of political doublespeak and spin this contradiction is ignored or masked by the other obscurantisms that permeate engkeylish and other National Party phrasings.
We should watch out for "accountability" and "transparency" along with "a commitment to" which when used in mission statements, policy intentions and speeches all gloss over the suspicion that there will be an agenda hidden under the management speak that will only be revealed when, on attaining government, National will revert to its "core business" which is revealed in the responses from Key and Wilkinson to questions on different aspects of their policy.
First; Key in response to a questioner at a public meeting in Keri Keri last year: (20.12.07)
"The reason why the wage gap is widening so rapidly between New Zealand and Australia is taxes. Australia has cut taxes, we haven't..... we would love to see wages drop. The way we want to see wages increase is because productivity is greater. So people can afford more." (It is worth noting that in response to this statement being raised in Parliament the clause "we would love to see wages drop" should have had the phrase "in Australia" added or, as in the political speak heard on the American hustings "I mis-spoke" or "I was mis-reported").
Whatever the reporting one can see the use of engkeylish in response to the question - "here is the immediate panacea - cut taxes and the differences between the two radically different economies will vanish." Thus allowing National to revert to its core business of "demanding more from the workers (read "bludgers") while keeping wages down . Anyone who was employed under the Bolger-Richardson National Government would recall the immediate response to Union calls for wage increases... "They're unnecessary as we've given you a tax break."
The Kate Wilkinson (Industrial Relations spokesperson for National) response to questions about their Industrial Relations policy revealed the "revert to core business" agenda when she discussed the "refinements" (another doublespeak term) to be made to the current employment law. The policy is to "refine" the law by reverting to the legislation of the 1990s which allowed employers to set up "employer developed collective 'contracts' that cannot be changed that apply to a particular site and thus lock employees into contracts that severely limited their individual rights as workers.
As SFWU President Wyeth said "National set out to destroy workers rights in the 1990s and nearly succeeded. More recently they have opposed four weeks annual leave, opposed paid parental leave, opposed extra pay for working on public holidays and opposed getting some sort of work life balance laws up and running." So, one wonders, why should one accept the engkeylish mantra that all will be resolved by accepting the statement that: "Under the National those battlers living on Struggle Street will find that lifting of the tax burden will mean that their working conditions (wages/ health services / educational opportunities / life styles / etc ) will improve."

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