It’s time for one of our chief political villains to go.
But it’s not that buffoonish member of the Cabinet. Or the incompetent opposition frontbencher. Or some departmental, regulatory or other bureaucratic bigwig.
No. I’m calling here and now, for the resignation of the phrase “Let me be clear”.
For too long has this hackneyed phrase stalked the corridors of power. From Theresa May to Barack Obama – and many lesser politicians in between – our leaders have been in hock to this now-meaningless piece of waffle.
It has been repeated, regurgitated and reeled off to the point of losing all substance.
Let me be clear, that Brexit means Brexit. Let me be clear, that our party is united. Let me be clear, that the evidence clearly points to how clear I’m being.
Perhaps it wasn’t always this way. Perhaps there was a time in which “Let me be clear” would be followed by a statement that did indeed provide unambiguous, 20/20 clarity.
Perhaps even before that, there was once a world in which the things we said stood on their own two feet and were – imagine it – clear without anyone telling us.
Alas, today “Let me be clear” signals that the subsequent words will be anything but.
I accept – or even enjoy – that rhetoric is an essential part of politics. We reach for this particular phrase to highlight salient points, to distinguish one perspective or policy from another, or to demonstrate authority and assertiveness.
But because of its overuse, “Let me be clear” no longer provides a gesture towards vision or decisiveness, but the opposite. It implies doubt, indicates a certain political shakiness and, in fact, suggests that things are unclear.
So let’s say goodbye to the entire regime – farewell also to the variants “I’ve been very clear”, “We’ve been very clear about this” and “Our position is very clear”.
I’m happy for public figures to “take a strong position”, “to be consistent in their view” or “to correct what’s being said about us”. Try those on for size, if you must.
But better still, tell us what you mean. Hope that’s clear.