Gavin Williamson: ‘hard power’.

When it comes to the mangling of English, political psychologists reign supreme

My beleaguered and battered Brexit brethren, I would like to bring you relief, but monumental language mangling offers little comfort on this vexatious subject.

Consider the following from the International Society of Political Psychology: “Studies have been largely silent on whether EU attitudes are also shaped by people’s attitudes towards the principles and practices of supranational governance. This research provides a first test of the nature and role of supranational attitudes.

“We introduce a new measure of supranationalism and, in two studies using samples drawn from the British population, test the psychometric properties of the supranationalism scale. We then identify the socio-ideological correlates (rightwing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation) of supranationalism, along with its effects in predicting EU attitudes and post-Brexit preferences.”

Where we were looking for illumination and hope, what do we get but a study that seems to show that academics and insight are all too often mutually exclusive?

Mind you, they are not alone. Consider this from the Department for Work and Pensions: “A good example of how the Department has already altered its approach to acting on frontline intelligence is by making staff feedback loops an integral part of the Universal Credit (UC) design process, which uses an iterative and participative process to bring frontline experience to the heart of design activity.”

My correspondent offers a helpful translation: “We intend to take more notice of what our staff tell us.”

And what exactly are we meant to make of our defence secretary, Gavin Williamson. While he’s planning to turn cruise liners into battleships, or some such, and planning to fill our skies with millions of drones (let us hope they aren’t loosed into the skies near our airports) and sending an aircraft carrier to put the frighteners on the Chinese, he’s talking about “lethality”, “hard power” and “increasing our mass”. Whatever next – tying a carving knife to a broom handle as a weapon of deterrence?