A Lib Dem jargon challenge

This challenge involves less sand, less running and indeed less going outdoors.

This challenge involves less sand, less running and indeed less going outdoors.

The reaction to my glossary of Liberal Democrat jargon has been mostly positive with people finding it useful (and do let me have suggestions for what to add or make clearer).

There’s also been some reactions along the lines of ‘this is absurd! we should be using the same language as real people not having to explain jargon’. Instinctively, it’s a viewpoint I agree with – death to jargon, please. Indeed, that’s why you may have noticed I often talk about the party’s UK-wide or national conferences rather than the jargon of ‘federal conference’.

And yet… possibly because I’m too close to the glossary for having written it, I think the terms in it are ones for which there are not practical, short plain English alternatives which would immediately make sense to, say, someone new to party membership.

I believe (hope)¬†that’s not because of a failure of imagination on my part but rather simply there are activities and jobs in a party which either are unique to politics or are unique to a fairly specialised slice of life – and so are always going to need more explanation than you can pack into a short descriptive term.

For example, having a database called “Connect” is jargon, yes. But what would you call it which is still short enough that people would use your alternative (and remember even three word phrases keep on getting abbreviated to acronyms in practice – which ends up being even more obscure)? And which also is as specific¬†in what it is about as the Connect name?

“Voter database” perhaps – but what is a database of voters if you’re new to politics? And even if you’re not how is that “voter database” different from the other records of voters, combined with data, which there are around the party? Calling one of several sets of voter data the “voter database” ends up being both longer and less clear.

But I’m close to the glossary and long immersed in party terminology. There’s even some jargon around the place which I originally penned (hello, pool mailings*).

So perhaps I’m wrong. Hence my challenge: which terms in the glossary could really be replaced by something that is short, clear and doesn’t introduce new ambiguities?


* A concept originally explained with a set of slides which include a photo of a ceiling fan and a photo of some shoes on a floor. Bonus geek points for anyone else who can remember what they meant.

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