LETTER : The Scott vote: what hope now for our democratic process?

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The Independent Online
St Albans, Hertfordshire

From Mr Steven Rhodes

Sir: Your compelling digest of the Scott report (26 February) was the first opportunity for the public to identify the report's full effect, short of reading the whole document. For me, it was a revelation in showing how Sir Richard's most telling criticism of the Government was in the one word "sophistry".

Repeatedly, the report excoriates ministers and civil servants for adopting their own select vocabulary, enabling them to describe events in a way that satisfied their own standards but which is utterly at odds with the public's understanding of what phrases such as "change in policy", "even-handed" and "unquantifiable" mean in ordinary use.

If the Scott report lacks punchlines it clearly seeks to embody at least one clear principle. Scott's first law may be stated as: "There can be no private language of public affairs."

Yours faithfully,

Steven Rhodes

London, SW1

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