The New European
Their eventual defeat to Italy in the Euro final at Wembley notwithstanding, Boris Johnson said on Twitter that Gareth Southgate’s squad put in a “fantastic” performance.
Before the England manager lets it go to his head – unlikely, I know, for such a shrewd judge of character – he should be aware of one thing:
That Johnson has, over the past few weeks, also used the word “fantastic” to describe a youngster who sleeps in a tent to raise money for charity; a visit to a green energy provider; a Dutch electric vehicle manufacturer; a group of volunteers and NHS workers he met; a trip to Nissan’s Sunderland factory; the work of the Armed Forces…
I could go on, but it’s like Johnson’s Tweets are computer-generated and the same buzzwords – others he likes are “great” and “brilliant” – recur over and over again.
The PR supremo Mark Borkowski tells me: “Johnson’s style of mass communication suggests he’s following the Donald Trump handbook. That’s the Trump who used the word “beautiful” 35 times over the course of 30 days.
“In an age of 280-character-tweets and 15-second soundbites, political leaders seem to be developing dialects of their own,” continues Borkowski. “Who has the time – or column space – for eloquence in a fast-paced news cycle? ‘Fantastic’, ‘huge’, ‘beautiful’ are all part of a new 21st century Morse code, ghastly to some, but readily recognisable and easily legible to most others.
“For such a supposedly great wordsmith, Johnson seems happy to use language that’s thin, insincere and patronising, but, if you believe the polls, it’s working. I suspect it’s like verbal junk food; when times are tough, we lap it up even knowing how little substance it offers.”