The Whiffle Flib test

A brief suggestion for speechwriters seeking to test whether their draft speech containing a capitalised two word phrase designed to sum up a brilliant new political philosophy contains any actual meaning and content.

First take your phrase, whether “New Frontier” “New Deal”, “Great Society”, “Big Society”, “One Nation” “New Labour” “Fair Deal”, “Fair Society”, “Big Nation”, “Great Deal”, “One Society”, “Big Frontier” or “Fair Labour”.

Next, find every example of this phrase in your draft speech and replace it with the words “Whiffle Flib“. Note: Remember to save as New Document. Otherwise you will miss one when you try to change them all back, which will be embarrassing at Conference.

Now, find an intern, lover, or other sap who cannot plausibly refuse your “request” for a favour and read to them every sentence explaining what “Whiffle Flib” is all about.

It’ll probably read something like this:

“we can only build Whiffle Flib if we all pull together to face the future.

If the current crisis has taught us anything it is that we must use Whiffle Flib to make us all more than the sum of our parts, because Whiffle Flib recognises all of us have a contribution to make.

My opponents cannot create Whiffle Flib because they are wedded to a failed ideology.

What Whiffle Flib is all about is liberating the talents of all.

Whiffle Flib does this by combining the best of both freedom and responsibility”

Once you have finished, untie your intern, perform CPR if needed, and ask them what they now understand by “Whiffle Flib”.

If they are able to respond by describing something other than vague statements that apply to anything nice and kind and lovely then you have written a speech with a real, identifiable and critiqueable idea in it.

If this is the case, you will want to find out what sections of your draft went beyond banal platitudes, statements of the obvious or flowery expressions of preference for the nice over unpleasantness and immediately excise them from the final draft.

After all, no-one ever won an election by making enemies or saying what they mean.

One Response to “The Whiffle Flib test”

  1. Mark Pack

    This reminds me of my old “Peanut Butter Treaty” test for news coverage of international treaty negotiations.

    Take the story, replace all references to the actual treaty with “Peanut Butter Treaty” and see if the story still makes sense. If it does – that’s because the story is all about process, and nowt about content.

    Distressingly little coverage passes this test!


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