Sunday, October 01, 2006

The nonsense of nuance

One of the favourite words in politics these days - especially beloved of the liberal left - is nuance. How many times have we heard politicians and commentators praise so and so's speech for being "nuanced" or that our foreign policy needs to be more "nuanced". Let's be honest, nuance in politics is nonsense.

We're led to believe that it is supposed to imply subtlety, but nuance comes from the Old French verb "nuer" - which means to cloud or shade. In other words, a nuanced speech is imprecise and vague. A nuanced foreign policy is unclear and full of equivocation.

Politics and politicians need to be precise and clear when they talk or define policy. We need to know exactly what they mean when they say something, we do not want to be led to make our own interpretations - that just means confusion and argument.

Nuance has become popular with politicians because it gives them the opportunity to not say what they really mean and to then to claim the correct interpretation is what they perceive to be popular when it comes back to haunt them in some way. Most of all, nuance gives the opportunity for politicians to avoid having to put any real substance into their policies.

Almost ten years after coming to power, we still don't really know what Blair stands for. Blair is the King of Nuance - and Cameron, the pretender to the throne - is equally adept at never saying what he really thinks (if indeed he does think for himself), preferring to deal in vague notions rather than positive certainties.

Nuance is fine in some arty film or stage play where an audience can be left to make their own interpretation - but when it comes to politics, the electorate want to hear their polticians being clear and precise and they expect the policies they present to be certain and unequivocal.

Nuance in politics is what leads to politicians being considered untrustworthy and the lack of clarity and substance in policies is what turns people off of politics.

Nuance is a nuisance. No more nuance, please.

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