Plain speaking: The everyday guide to political speech

A plain English guide to political terms, produced by the National Adult Literacy Agency, may become a must-read publication in the next few weeks as voters struggle to cope with the endless stream of jargon on radio, television, and even twitter feeds.Newswhip logo

“This guide, along with other elements of our campaign on literacy and political participation, aims to help the public become more familiar with some of the most common political terms,” the literacy advocates say.

“We also hope it will remove some of the barriers that may currently prevent people from getting involved in political activity – whether that means voting, lobbying their local representative or joining a political party. ”

The Plain English Guide to Political Terms
We are where we are. Going forward.

The definitions in the guide range from the major — and not so major — political parties, to institutions of the State and the mchanics of election and Dáil procedures.

Also defined are some terms that do not exist in the Irish political system, such as Absolute monarchy, although the definition of Aristocracy — “a ruling system based on social class, wealth and noble birth” — does have an oddly familiar ring to it…

Brown envelopes also get a mention, and are correctly identified as the traditionally appropriate medium with which to convey one’s appreciation and support for the democratic process — or bribes, as the rest of the world calls them.

Electronic voting gets a shoutout too, though given the debacle that ensued when the government decided it was a bright idea, many must be hoping it is forgotten about as soon as possible.

Curiously, while Grassroots Movement is defined, there’s no mention of Astroturfing, the practice of setting up bogus committees and organisations — all staffed by the same small handful of activists — to create the false impression of a genuine mass movement.

The plain guide is available from the National Adult Literacy Agency website, where it can be downloaded for free.

Some of the words they chose to include are definitely interesting:

Brown envelope :A term referring to the practice of politicians receiving illegal payments (in brown envelopes) in exchange for favours.

Communist: A person who supports communism.

Despot: A ruler who exercises total power, especially in a cruel or harsh way.

Dirty politics: Unethical and illegal methods to gain political advantage.
See also Mudslinging

Fat Cat: A slang term for a wealthy,influential person who contributes a lot of money to apolitical party or campaign.

Mudslinging: The practice of saying negative things about an opponentduring a political campaign;also known as ‘dirty politics’.
See also Dirty politics

Tyranny: Uncontrolled exercise of power, often by an oppressive or unjustly severe government or a ruler.
See also Despot and Dictator

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