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Saturday 11 May 2013

Gove’s New Polecat Scores Own Goal

The propaganda machine of Michael “Oiky” Gove has been weakened of late: the @toryeducation Twitter account, believed to be operated by his Special Advisors (SpAds) Dominic Cummings and Henry de Zoete, fell silent on March 27, and apart from a brief return on April 24, has not Tweeted since. This necessitated the recruitment of one or more new polecats to step into the breach.

Best finish writing before doing that, Tobes

Cometh the hour, cometh the polecat: willingly taking up the cudgels for his hero has been the loathsome Toby Young, who has dedicated his latest piss-poor offering at Telegraph Blogs to a characteristically cheap and nasty hatchet job on Michael Rosen, former Children’s Laureate, broadcaster, and much-published author, who has had the audacity to question the great “Oiky”.

Moreover, Rosen has taken Gove to task on grammar, and Tobes has decided that such effrontery crosses one of those unwritten lines. This requires a retribution that is both swift and ruthless. Sadly, though, he isn’t the one to execute this strategy with even the most basic competence, but he has a brave stab at it. “Are all Michael Gove’s critics illiterate?” he thunders (missing “of” before “Michael” there, Tobes).

This is followed by the pedantic perusal of Rosen’s Comment Is Free piece, “Michael Gove and ‘correct grammar’: let me explain this slowly”, in which he explains that grammar is something that evolves. Rosen sets out his reasoning in ten concisely worded points, demonstrating that there can be no one “correct grammar”. It is an interesting and well-reasoned argument.

Reason, however, cannot enter in the world of the Gove polecat if Rosen – or anyone else – has dared to challenge the word of “Oiky”. So Tobes has trawled Rosen’s copy for any sign of possible error and has found an apparently missing comma, together with his taking issue over whether one word should be written in the singular or plural. But Young’s own copy fares less well.

I can see two missing commas, and the omission of the word “that” in his first paragraph. He also ends a sentence with a preposition. All of these grammatical howlers occur in one moderately sized blogpost: Tobes’ error rate is rather higher than that attributed to Michael Rosen. So, if anyone should be sent to the “back of the class”, it is the loathsome, self-appointed Young, not Rosen.

This should not surprise anyone: after all, Michael Rosen is a popular and much-published author, while Toby Young failed even to make the grade as a columnist at the Murdoch Sun. The headline of his post is also, on the basis of howlers committed, wrong, and might more correctly read “Are all of Michael Gove’s polecats illiterate?”. This would combine both grammatical and factual accuracy.

In the meantime, I will leave Tobes to retrieve the ball from the back of his own net.


Nick S said...

Ouch, and again ouch. Toby Young didn't do v well in his defence of Liz Truss either, although not for want of grammar.

Unknown said...

Language alive and vibrant in the real world.
Init Bro.....
In language four plus for doesn't always make ate.
Does the Sec. Of State now issue poetic licences?
Titter Yea Not.
Long live the English Language in all it's diversity and ability to communicate thought.