LETTER: Swallowing the bitter pill of Toryspeak

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GEORGE Orwell was almost certainly wrong in suggesting that a totalitarian regime could so manipulate language as to make it impossible for its subjects to comprehend concepts such as freedom or equality. But his warning about Newspeak should not be disregarded; it already exists in a more subtle form - Toryspeak.

What would Orwell have made of the statement made by the Government's Chief Medical Officer in defence of the precipitate warning about the Pill ("Pill scare saves NHS pounds 25m", 22 October)? As a human being he would have been appalled, as a writer he would be compelled to admire the astute blend of near-truths, half-truths and lies.

Kenneth Calman stated: "This is not a cost issue. Cost has not been mentioned. It is not relevant. The issue is whether women should be told about the risk. And they have been."

"This is not a cost issue". Getting rid of the pills in question would save the Government an estimated pounds 25m a year. "Cost has not been mentioned". Not by Stephen Dorrell certainly: he wouldn't, would he? "It is not relevant". It is crucial to the issue. "The issue is whether women should be told about the risk". Not quite: the question is whether women should be told properly about the risk compared with the risks involved in pregnancy. "And they have been". Yes, after a fashion, misleadingly.

By being economical with the lies (only one downright lie: "It is not relevant") the speaker has effectively destroyed the truth.

P F O'Brien

Middlesbrough, Cleveland

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