Government briefings

I’ve pretty much stopped watching the official briefings, between shouting at the politicians and urging the journalists to be more probing they aren’t good for my peace of mind. Far better to read a considered report in a reputable source later.

Alistair Campbell nails it with his 20 phrases that should be banished from Covid-19 briefings:

  • We’re leaving no stone unturned. (Show don’t tell)
  • We’re working round the clock. (Show don’t tell)
  • We’re ramping up. (Show don’t tell)
  • We’re straining every sinew. (Show don’t tell)
  • We’re moving heaven and earth. (Impossible)
  • 100 percent focused. (Should go without saying)
  • 110 percent focused. (Even worse)
  • Whatever it takes … whether on tests, masks, protective clothing, ventilators, support for new small businesses, charities, Brits stranded abroad, there are too many things on which they have so clearly not done whatever it takes. So drop it. (This will be a major problem for them at the public inquiry.)
  • We’re following the science … say this only if you share the science which you are following. (This could be a major problem for them at the public inquiry.)
  • We’re putting our arms around you. (Odd thing to say when the message is social distancing.)
  • Shoulder to shoulder. (ditto)
  • This is unprecedented. (A Rishi Sunak favourite)
  • We have been clear all along.
  • The Prime Minister has been very clear.
  • Let me make this absolutely clear. (Only to be used if followed by genuine clarity.)
  • What we have said from the start.
  • Nobody is pretending.
  • I must level with you. (suggests you don’t normally)
  • Absolute top priority. (There can only be one, so if you use this, make sure it is always the same one.)
  • Hi folks.
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