Friday, January 08, 2010

Labour For Old Etonians

Guido has received an email from Gordon Brown (see HERE). It's almost embarrassing that a Prime Minister could authorise this sort of drivel to be sent out. However, one sentence did leap out...

“Labour is on your side – wherever you’ve come from in life
and wherever you want to get to in life.”


I am sure all Old Etonians will take note.

UPDATE 6.30pm: A regular commenter Javelin has noticed something about Gordon's letter...

If you analyse this letter you will see that the 1st and last paragraph were written by a different person than the one who wrote the rest of the letter. Whilst its hard for us to see with our untrained eyes there is software on the intenet that can analyse the letter for us.

It turns out the first and last paragraph was written by a grade school 15 (i.e. 20 year old - and who doesnt write clearly either), the 2nd,3rd and 4th paragraph was written by somebody trying to write like a grade
school 11 (i.e 16 year old).

If you cut and paste the text of the letter here this shows a nice graph proving the point.

http://www.wordscount.info/wc/jsp/clear/analyze_clear.jsp

You can cut and paste the 1st+PS vs. 2nd,3rd,4th paragraphs here to see the school grade age of the writers.

http://www.wordscount.info/wc/jsp/clear/analyze_readability.jsp

What's interesting is that the last paragraph (i.e. the PS) is a plea for cash. It implies that Gordon is desperate to tag on the message that he needs some cash. So the person who wrote the letter was focused on dumbing it
down for Labour voters (i.e a 16 year old reading ability) - but the person who edited it (and only had time for the first paragraph) was also so worried about money they added then PS on the end.

Again, it may not be obvious from our untrained eyes, but this software will be able to tell you that different paragraphs were written by different people.

26 comments:

Devil's Kitchen said...

I feel much better now. Thank you Gordon—your trite platitudes have convinced me of the virtue in voting for Labour.

Yeah, right...

DK

Daily Referendum said...

“Labour is on your side (*see note 1) – wherever you’ve come from in life and wherever you want to get to in life.”

*Note 1 - Does not include anyone who's family has money, or anyone who has worked hard all their life to get a well paid job.

ToryHome said...

It's that badly written, it must be a hoax - Brown's children playing with the PC unsupervised again?

Lee H said...

Not related but just heard Lord Adonis destroyed on Radio 5 live. Very amusing.

DrM. said...

'Gawd Bless you Gordon is all I can say!'

Giving new meaning to the expression, 'Fiscal Prudence', the good news that the Icelandic government has agreed to repay its £billion pound banking liability in fish; setting a new gold-standard in equivalent weight of frozen Cod.

The Bank of England, private investors and a number of County Councils have welcomed the gesture of goodwill and reportedly deliveries of the new currency will soon be appearing in specially prepared frozen vaults in banks around the country. With the pound now heading towards parity with the Euro, Chancellor Alasdair Darling is expected to announce Britain's own currency commitment to the new Cod-standard, on account of his boss, Gordon, having sold –off most of the country's gold at a rock-bottom price when Labour first came to power.

javelin said...

If you analyse this letter you will see that the 1st and last paragraph were written by a different person than the one who wrote the rest of the letter. Whilst its hard for us to see with our untrained eyes there is software on the intenet that can analyse the letter for us.

It turns out the first and last paragraph was written by a grade school 15 (i.e. 20 year old - and who doesnt write clearly either), the 2nd,3rd and 4th paragraph was written by somebody trying to write like a grade
school 11 (i.e 16 year old).

If you cut and paste the text of the letter here this shows a nice graph proving the point.

http://www.wordscount.info/wc/jsp/clear/analyze_clear.jsp

You can cut and paste the 1st+PS vs. 2nd,3rd,4th paragraphs here to see the school grade age of the writers.

http://www.wordscount.info/wc/jsp/clear/analyze_readability.jsp

What's interesting is that the last paragraph (i.e. the PS) is a plea for cash. It implies that Gordon is desperate to tag on the message that he needs some cash. So the person who wrote the letter was focused on dumbing it
down for Labour voters (i.e a 16 year old reading ability) - but the person who edited it (and only had time for the first paragraph) was also so worried about money they added then PS on the end.

Again, it may not be obvious from our untrained eyes, but this software will be able to tell you that different paragraphs were written by different people.

I Squiggle said...

@javelin

Or, one person. Who may be suffering from a stress related illness?

canvas said...

"Again, it may not be obvious from our untrained eyes, but this software will be able to tell you that different paragraphs were written by different people"

why is that unusual?

Sean Haffey said...

I disagree with Javelin.

This kind of analysis needs far more words to be statistically significant and it's by no means unusual to change styles through different parts of a letter or article.

It may be true, of course, but these programmes cannot accurately show this.

Gallimaufry said...

"That, for me, says it all about the spirit of our Labour Party – we never give in, we never give up, we fight for progress house by house, street by street, day by day."
Has someone been googling Churchill speeches?

Rob said...

"So the person who wrote the letter was focused on dumbing it
down for Labour voters (i.e a 16 year old reading ability)."

Ah, just when I'm considering voting Tory I read this. Keep up the good work Iain! And to think you actually believe class-based politics is irrelevant!

Iain Dale said...

Rob, if you bothered to read it, you would have read I was quoting one of my commenters, not writing that myself.

Henry Rogers said...

Thanks to Javelin for flagging up an interesting bit of software. Looking at the small print it seems to be more about the readability of a text than about the linguistic skills of the writer. I tried typing in the Lord's Prayer (Book of Common Prayer version) and the program came up with a reader age of around 16, despite the old fashioned English.

I then typed in a couple of paragraphs of the Warner translation of Thucydides, that is to say modern English, and was not at all surprised when when it suggested a reader age of 35.

I think this program might be a useful sanity check on anything written for a wide audience rather than an academic minority.

laurie171079 said...

It doesn't necessarily tell you that though Iain, though I believe that GB didn't write it.

What it does say is that someone was using the English language at a lower level than they usually would. Any email that was maxed out with wonkish words would be discarded by a voter. It makes sense to simplify the language.

Also, it's not proof that many people wrote the message, but evidence.

Daily Referendum said...

OT: http://dailyreferendum.blogspot.com/2010/01/cisions-top-50-uk-blogs-712010.html

pete-s said...

You need to check everthing that GB or No 10 says. Not for grammar but for the degree of untruth. With Gordo you need a LIAR WATCH site. The statement about wind farms is full of false exaggeration. Statements about their preparedness for this weather are usually found to be false.

vervet said...

Trivia, all trivia.

New World Order = World Government by big business.

George W. Bush > Barack Obama
Gordon Brown > David Cameron

Do you see it now ?

You MUST watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VebOTc-7shU&feature=player_embedded

then you will understand.

OldSlaughter said...

Sean Haffey,

As happens quite often, I entirely agree with you.

Unsworth said...

Just because Brown says something doesn't make it so. Indeed it's usually exactly the opposite. Why would any OE believe a word that this class-warrior utters? Why would anyone?

If I receive a letter from Brown I shall make immediate arrangements to leave the country. He's mobile death, Typhoid Mary from Fife.

Cogito Dexter said...

The absolute first thing I thought upon reading it earlier was that it had been largely written by (or for) a 14 year old.

I'm now very pleased with my instincts!

Bryan said...

I would be a bit more impressed if Javelin could write grammatical English himself...

Tyler Durden said...

Dear Iain,

If there’s one thing that our recent by-election successes and this week’s coverage about the £34 billion credibility gap in the Tories’ spending plans shows us, it’s that the media haven’t noticed our £178bn credibility gap.

I know that despite the icy conditions, Ellie Gellard is preparing to go out campaigning this weekend. That, for me, says it all about the spirit of our Labour Party – we never give in, we never give up, we fight for progress house by house, street by street, day by day, and we’re a touch delusional.

If you want to get involved in fighting the greatest force for fairness our country has ever known, click here.

And I hope you will also take the time to check in on elderly neighbours and others in your community, as so many of you have been already, to ensure people stay safe and stay warm during the cold weather. After all, the winter fuel allowance isn’t enough to heat their homes now that i’ve stolen their pensions, and the Police will be too busy filling in forms to come out if any real criminals happen to be about.

Earlier today the cabinet met to discuss how we intend to focus laser-like on two fronts: keeping our jobs and fiddling expenses. We should be united in serving Britain and working as a team to lead our movement into a big choice election, but we’re too busy navel gazing and fighting like randy ferrets in a small sack.

Labour is on your side – if you vote for us, are a civil servant or live on benefits. So let’s get the message out this weekend; if you’re not one of the above we’re either going to tax you till you move abroad, or simply ban you under our equality agenda.

Yours,
Gordon Brown

Cinnamon Marine said...

Just as a bit of insight into the way these things work, the PS is highly unlikely to have been tacked on at a later date to the main text. The PS was probably the first part written, however if this was an emailed missive rather than a hardcopy letter then it's a foolish way of doing it because the psychological aspects of reading a letter are different to an email. With a letter, the usual thing that happens is the reader goes straight to the signatory at the bottom, thus the important part of the message in any letter from a political party is encapsulated in the PS as the part most likely to actually be read. With email that doesn't happen so the strategy for writing should be different - the PS is useless from that point of view and the important part of the text should be succinctly put in the opening paragraph.

Unsworth said...

Well said, Tyler Durden.

One small addition, and that is that your elderly and poverty-struck neighbours may actually have starved to death on account of having no money and being unable to get to the shops and cashpoints without damaging themselves on the untreated pavements and streets.

However, if despite this they do manage to get to the shops they will find that food has not been delivered, milk is being poured down the drains, sell-by food is being thrown in the skip and the just-in-time food chain is collapsing. But Lord Adonis has now returned from his skiing holiday to take charge - as we can see from his regular appearances on the media. His skiing skills are being put to good use for the nation as he takes the piste between broadcasting studios.

In any event, none of us wants our streets to be littered with the corpses of the old and poor. So best to stay indoors - because it's the right thing to do.

Phil Walker said...

Iain, Javelin, I'm not sure that analysis stacks up. The linked software doesn't recognise some of the punctuation symbols which Guido uses. It's the apostrophes and the dashes which are causing problems: if you remove the dashes and change all the apostrophes to the usual keyboard ones, you get a graph which is far flatter. Then hardest words are then identified as 'Tories' and 'laser', although the software seems to struggle with contractions.

Now, the high frequency of those contractions in the first and last paragraphs, coupled with their absence from the rest of the letter, may be an indication that the material comes from two sources. However, contractions are generally considered 'simpler' than writing in full, so my suggestion is the exact inverse of Javelin's: Brown wrote the more complicated middle section, and a staffer wrote a simpler introduction and conclusion.

All told, textual criticism is not something which can be automated, I'm afraid.

(This comment comes to you with a reading age of 15 and a bit, apparently.)

Bob S said...

Actually a better, snappier soundbite would be - "Labour is on your side - wherever you've come from and wherever you're going to" - problems with the BNP obviously precluded this version :)