Jowell's 'little book of bollocks' reveals ministerial gibberish

Cabinet ministers are in line for an award they will not want to win after Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, accused them of talking gobbledegook ordinary people cannot understand.

Cabinet ministers are in line for an award they will not want to win after Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, accused them of talking gobbledegook ordinary people cannot understand.

The Plain English Campaign invited Ms Jowell to submit the worst examples of jargon for its annual Golden Bull Awards after she revealed that she had compiled "a little book of bollocks" spouted by ministers. In an unusually outspoken interview, Ms Jowell urged the Government to "cut the crap" to reconnect with the public.

She did not exempt herself from criticism. "I have what I call a bollocks list where I just sit in meetings and I write down some of the absurd language we use, and we are all guilty of this, myself included," she told the Financial Times. "The risk is when you have been in government for eight years you begin to talk the language which is not the language of the real world."

Ms Jowell did not disclose which ministers had uttered the words but she was urged to send nominations to the campaign, whose awards highlight impenetrable phrases used in Whitehall and Westminster.

John Lister, spokesman for the campaign, said: "We often say our biggest achievement is giving people the courage to speak out against gobbledegook, but we never expected a cabinet minister to do it. Some people may be offended by Ms Jowell's blunt words. But we find the idea of our elected rulers habitually using terms such as 'regional cultural data feedback rollout' to be just as offensive."

Ms Jowell said that if Labour won a third term, it should "build a new kind of politics which is much less about confrontation, worrying less about today's headlines, worrying more about the continued dialogue with the people we serve".

She warned that women in particular were "turned off" by jargon and said: "Politicians are talking to themselves and they are simply eavesdroppers on a conversation."

Ms Jowell spoke of "crude sexism" she had suffered during her career. "You stand up to make a speech and you hear, usually the Tories, shouting, 'Come on gorgeous', 'Don't like your suit' or 'Get a haircut'," she said. She also complained that women politicians had become inured to "rank abuse" from parliamentary sketch writers. But Ms Jowell did not welcome the plain speaking of David Blunkett, the former home secretary, who described her as "weak" to biographer Stephen Pollard.

She said his remarks had an undercurrent of sexism. "That's why I was so cross with him," she said. "I've had all this out with him and I know how sorry he is. He was painfully apologetic and I forgive him."

UNTANGLED

* "Reprofiling expenditure" - Robbing Peter to pay Paul

* "Sustainable eating in schools" - More fruit and veg

* "Regional cultural data feedback rollout" - Getting new facts from the regions

* "Strategic objectives for evaluation" - A look at our aims

* "Weaning the profile" - Changing it

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