Writing specialists take parties to task for illiterate waffle

The weaknesses broken down into five measures for each party
The weaknesses broken down into five measures for each party

Writing experts have analysed the election manifestos of the main parties.

Writing experts from Brighton have analysed the election manifestos of the main parties - and concluded they must do better.

The overall weaknesses for each of the seven main parties

The overall weaknesses for each of the seven main parties

Business-writing trainers at Emphasis found a litany of mistakes and shortcomings when they put them under the microscope.

They suggest it sets a poor example and claim the parties could again fail to connect with voters at the next General Election.

Rob Ashton, chief executive officer of Emphasis, said: “We found far too much waffle. And, in some cases, the parties even failed to spot unfortunate punctuation and grammatical errors – or issues with sentence structure - before publication. Politicians should lead by example if they want voters to take them seriously.”

Emphasis analysed the manifestos of each of the seven parties that took part in the televised leaders’ debate on April 2: the Conservatives, the Greens, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the Scottish National Party and UKIP.

Experts at the Queen’s Road firm - founded in 1998 - looked at 1,000 words from each manifesto, beginning at the start of the parties’ education policies. The analysts then produced graphs to compare them on style and technical accuracy. The company uses the same kind of analysis for delegates on its training courses.

The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats outperformed the other parties overall in the study. UKIP struggled the most on sentence structure while Labour fared worst on grammar and punctuation.

The Greens’ Caroline Lucas hopes to retain the party’s only parliamentary seat - Brighton Pavilion. But her party’s manifesto may not help her cause.

Mr Ashton said: “The Greens and Plaid Cymru tend towards a more passive, sometimes quite anonymous style. They often leave out who or what will take the action they describe (eg ‘will be introduced’). This ‘passive voice’ is the natural style of academics and policy specialists.

“UKIP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru have all tended to use long sentences containing a multitude of ideas. Labour and the Liberal Democrats favoured shorter, simpler sentences, with the Tories taking the middle road.”

He added: “The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats had fewer weaknesses overall so are more likely to connect with their audience (through their manifestos at least).

“Their less academic style could be down to their in-depth experience of fighting national elections, which has given them more opportunity to fine-tune their message for public consumption.”

For more detailed analysis of the manifestos, visit: www.writing-skills.com/election2015