A matter of definition

For someone who normally appears very careful in his choice of words, Gordon Brown’s answer on News at Ten last night that Peter Hain’s current travail was the result of “an incompetency” seemed strange. The Shorter OED defines incompetency as ‘(1) inadaquacy; and (2) the fact or condition of being incompetent; want of the requisite ability, power or qualification; incapacity’. It was not the word incompetent, but the indefinite article in front of it. It begged the question whose incompetency (although there should be no prizes for guessing whose: and the BBC on its Radio 3 news summary at 8.30 this morning left listeners in no doubt, as Brown was reported as having “accused Hain of incompetence”. It is a sorry tale, and compounded by Brown playing the “He’s said he’s sorry” card. The story is not going away, and Brown now finds himself caught between a Rock (more later) and a Hain place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s