Tag Archives: Francis Maude

More mangled English (and mangled logic), courtesy of Francis Maude

16 Apr

In a comment on Radio 4’s Any Questions, reported in today’s Guardian, Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, once again proved that an expensive education is no guarantee of an ability to speak coherent English. (He was educated at Abingdon School, Cambridge and the College of Law; was called to the bar in 1977 and became an MP in 1983, at the age of 30.)

Maude is reported to have said, “that reports that [Margaret Thatcher’s] funeral will cost £10m had mistakenly included the costs of police and soldiers who would be working anyway. ‘These are costs which are people doing their ordinary jobs which are costs which are being borne in any event. There is no one who has been hired who should not be doing their ordinary jobs which they would not be doing in any event. We are not hiring more police’.”

Let’s deal with the mangled English first: The Guardian might have been unkind in not attempting to punctuate that piece of verbal diarrhoea – although they might simply have given up in despair. Maude commits the common errors of using “which” where he should have used “that”, of repeating a (meaningless) phrase, “in any event”, and of simply not making sense. He must have anticipated that a question about the cost of the funeral would be asked and should have paid the questioner, and the programme, the courtesy of preparing a coherent reply.

Now, the mangled logic: it is reported that 3,000 police officers have had leave cancelled in case they are needed to help secure the route of the funeral procession (and after yesterday’s bombs in Boston, I imagine they will be used). They – I hope – will be paid overtime, so they won’t be “doing their ordinary jobs”, nor will all the other police on duty who would not normally be standing about in the City – so who is doing their “ordinary jobs”? More police on overtime, or is it just a good day to commit crime? The service people who will be on duty? I assume they don’t normally spend all day lying on their bunks waiting for a ceremonial occasion to come along, so they are not doing their “ordinary jobs” either.

I think the spending of any public money on Thatcher’s funeral is indefensible, but I expect those who disagree with me to be able to defend their position in good English.

Today’s picture
I drive through Hyde Park each Sunday and Tuesday morning. There are still no leaves on the trees – in mid-April. Perhaps there might be some by next Sunday and I can take a photograph. In the meantime, here is a wild flower meadow that I photographed in Connecticut in 2011.