I don’t usually join the Daily Mail/UKIP rant about political correctness gone mad or nanny state health & safetyism. As Stewart Lee says, political correctness is basically just being polite and respectful, and as far as H&S complaints are concerned I always want to ask the complainer whether it is safety or health that they object to. Furthermore, most of the tabloid examples of health & safety or political correctness gone mad are either inventions, exaggerations, misunderstandings or urban myths, like many of the stories about EU regulations.
But having said all that, there are two bits of mealy-mouthed language that have been niggling me. The first is our new shower. The shower was replaced last year and the temperature control on the new one is not labelled “hot” and “cold” but “warmer” and “cooler”. Really. Who ever says “I really feel like a warm shower”? The irony is that, despite the cuddly labelling the temperature dial still works way all showers do – there is a tiny sweet spot and if you move the dial a fraction either way you either get freezing or scalding.
The other bit of language manipulation concerns the forthcoming elections where we appear to not have paper candidates any more. Instead we have “pioneer candidates”. Nobody consulted us about this or even told us it was coming, we just started seeing the term crop up with no explanation.
I don’t know if it is intended to make paper candidates feel better about themselves or a dressing up of the job title to make people less reluctant to apply. I do hope not. As a serial paper candidate I have to say that I don’t object to being called a paper candidate at all. I always considered it quite an honourable thing to do, whatever it is called and was proud to be a paper candidate – at least you can’t be accused of being in it for the money if you stand for Labour in Horsham!
There may be another reason for the terminology. It could be a bit of a motivational, business jargon sort of reason which is meant to give the impression that you are not standing in an unwinnable area but are instead establishing a presence to make an area a future target seat. That is a bit better but still a bit of a weaselly euphemism.