A letter to The Independent recently quoted the following sentence from an article about the Big Society as an example of obscure writing.
Public sector mutualisation and budgetary takeover by citizens of the state is a crucial initial phase in endowing ordinary citizens with the power to ensure that the services they run are operated in a way which combines public interest with economic efficiency and localised employee ownership building in all the gains that this model delivers.
I would not disagree that the final clause (“building in all the gains that this model delivers.”) is unnecessary and should have been pruned by a good editor, but a complex concept cannot be explain in simple terms.
Mutualisation refers to idea of collectives/co-operatives, for example, building societies. “Public sector mutualisation” is therefore makes people co-owners of the public sector changing the model from one where they are customers or consumers.
budgetary takeover by citizens is a (too) concise term for having spending allocations and priorities determined by citizens and not civil servants.
services they run refers to public sector services now co-owned by the ordinary citizen where said citizen has high level input into budgets and policy but implementation remains with the public sector.
combines public interest with economic efficiency—money is spent in line with public expectations with minimal administration costs. I think it interesting that “public interest” was chosen here instead of “public good”, but this is a post about language not politics so I will not examine that further.
Contemporary mediums with low character limits such as text messages and twitter encourage dense, terse and economic phrasing so I find it surprising that someone would complain about a sentence which is all of these things. However perhaps at 348 characters (requiring three tweets) it was the length that offended the letter-writer?
[Mostly typed one-handed due to a broken collar bone; enforced R&R at home has given me too much time to read and consider such things!]