Quotes about plain English

Public figures who have lent their support to the Campaign

The following people have lent their support to the use of plain English.

Tony Blair MP, former Prime Minister
David Cameron MP, Prime Minister
Charles, Prince of Wales
Anne, The Princess Royal
Sir Menzies Campbell MP, former leader of the Liberal Democrats
Jack McConnell MSP, the First Minister of Scotland
Charles Kennedy MP, former leader of the Liberal Democrats
Andrew Marr, broadcaster and former political editor of the BBC
Sir John Major, former Prime Minister
Baroness Thatcher, former Prime Minister
Michael Shanks, former chairman of the National Consumer Council
Kris Neal, Vice President of Marketing Communications, NationsBank Corporation.
Busi Bam, Counsellor, South African High Commission
Colette Flesch, Director-General, European Commission, Brussels
Christopher Balmford, Phillips Fox Solicitors, Australia
Professor Sukanta Chaudhuri, Jadavpur University, India
Lord Alexander of Weedon QC, former Chairman, NatWest Group
Richard Grimes, Rank Xerox (UK) Limited
Joseph Kimble, Professor of Law, Thomas M Cooley Law School, Lansing, Michigan


'The Plain English Campaign has played a major role in improving the way public bodies communicate with citizens. However, there is still plenty of room for improvement - not least from politicians - so the campaign's work is far from over.'
Tony Blair MP, former Prime Minister


'All politicians are guilty of slipping into jargon - and all of us deserve scrutiny from the Plain English Campaign. Complicated sets of initials, official jargon, bureaucracies that over-complicate things to boost their own self-importance - all of these things help to build barriers between government and people.

When important information is being provided by officials or government departments, that is especially serious. So I congratulate the Campaign on all it has achieved to date, and wish it well.'
David Cameron MP, Prime Minister


Letter from Kensington Palace from Prince Charles in 1994

'Due to a frequent regrettable inability to prevent my presence in other locations, I find that I must convey to you my goodwill in a correspondence format. It was when I was still a juvenile future constitutional figurehead substitute that I first became sensitised by mother-tongue abuse awareness. How many of use, I wonder, when faced with pretentious gobbledygook and empty jargon, experience a kick start into despair mode? My feelings towards all of you at today's Awards are, attitudinally, those of enormous encouragement....

God bless the Plain English Campaign.'
Charles, Prince of Wales


Letter from Buckingham Palace containing the public address delivered at the Inside Write Awards ceremony held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London. HRH The Princess Royal presented the awards.

'As Patron of the Adult Literacy Basic Skills Unit (ALBSU) I have heard about the frustrations, embarrassments and frustrations caused by the vagaries of the written word. I also know about all those emotions from personal experience of trying to write rules for sports events and trying to write a book, never mind attempting to decode the instructions on the coffee machine! Over six million adults in the UK have difficulty reading everyday information such as newspapers, dosage instructions for medicines, bank statements and tax returns. Far more people have difficulty understanding the turgid offerings of some of the bureaucracies that house, support or tax them.

Using plain English helps many of the most disadvantaged people in society. But the benefits for busy chief executives, lawyers and administrators are far greater. It is vital for organisations to be able to communicate clearly with their customers, policyholders, borrowers and tenants. No-one has the time or patience to wade through long sentences, legalese, small print or tortured English. People want to be able to absorb information quickly, easily and at first reading. Using plain English will help our readers achieve this aim.

The fight for plain English did not start at this conference, nor will it end here. But the knowledge and experience you share over the next three days will take the campaign a little further.'

signed Anne


'I believe that the use of plain English is at times an overlooked yet essential issue for the improvement of communication between companies and the public. The hard work of the Plain English Campaign to draw attention to this significant issue has been paramount in the improving English standards in our society.'
Sir Menzies Campbell MP, former leader of the Liberal Democrats


'Even the most complicated policies and decisions can be explained in a clear and simple way. People in public life sometimes forget this golden rule, but the Plain English Campaign has been quick to remind us of the importance of straightforward language. Keep up the good work.'
Jack McConnell MSP, former First Minister of Scotland


'As a great believer in straight talking whenever possible - even, occasionally in politics itself - I very much welcome the relaunch of the Plain English Campaign website. The English language is without doubt one of our most cherished national and international resources. It is functional and fulfilling in equal measure. We need to keep it that way in the political discourse of our national life.'
Charles Kennedy MP, former leader of the Liberal Democrats


'We need to ensure that official documents - from Social Security forms to White Papers - are useful and comprehensible. The Plain English Campaign has a splendid track record in nudging us all towards making this happen.'
Sir John Major, former Prime Minister


'Human relationships depend on communication. Bad writing is a barrier to communication. When a large organisation such as the Government tries to communicate with the man and woman in the street the scope for misunderstanding is enormous. Too often clarity and simplicity are overwhelmed by pompous words, long sentences and endless paragraphs.

If we all wrote in plain English, how much easier - and efficient - life would be. It is no exaggeration to describe plain English as a fundamental tool of good Government.

Some people think that flowery language and complicated writing is a sign of intellectual strength. They are wrong. Some of our greatest communicators were - and are - passionate believers in the simplicity of the written word. As Winston Churchill described a particularly tortured piece of 'officialese': 'This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.'

The Civil Service and public administration generally have made great strides in the use of plain English in recent years. Jargon and 'officialese', while far from extinct, are dying out. I would like to see them banished forever. Plain English must be the aim of all who work in government.'

Baroness Thatcher, former Prime Minister


'(Plain English) is not just a question of getting some belly laughs at the expense of the bureaucracy, or saving John and Jill Citizen from unnecessary inconvenience or suffering because authority can't or won't communicate intelligibly; it goes deeper than that.

Gobbledygook may indicate a failure to think clearly, a contempt for one's clients, or more probably a mixture of both. A system that can't or won't communicate is not a safe basis for a democracy.'

Michael Shanks, former chairman of the National Consumer Council


'We're pleased to win the International Plain English Award. We believe all the information we give to customers should be easy to understand, so we work hard to translate financial jargon into simple terms. Our goal is to write from the customer's point of view.'

Kris Neal, Vice President of Marketing Communications at NationsBank Corporation


'With the style of writing taught to South Africans by Plain English Campaign, the Government will indeed be seen to be transparent.

By rewriting the Human Rights Commission Act, Plain English Campaign has contributed positively to the Reconstruction and Development Program.'

Busi Bam, Counselor, South African High Commission


'Bad English is always a sign, as Orwell suggested, of insincerity or sloppy thought. But it can be fought, with the aid of constant ridicule. And this is happening. I think Orwell would have been cheered by the condition of our common culture because of the sheer quantity of this necessary ridicule. From the Plain English Campaign to Pseuds' Corner in Private Eye, from the mockery of Gordon Brown's 'endogenous growth theory' to the attacks on Sir Richard Scott's double negatives, this remains a country passionately committed to plain speech and instinctive in its hostility to overblown English.'

'Cloudy, slimy sentences are the first sign of bad government; plain English is always the democrat's best defence.'

Andrew Marr, former political editor of the BBC


'We fully support the efforts of Plain English Campaign to help organisations around the world communicate clearly with each other and, above all, with the public.'


Colette Flesch, Director-General, European Commission of Brussels


'Lawyers who use plain language know it doesn't just make good sense, it makes good cents.'

Christopher Balmford, Phillips Fox Solicitors, Australia


'It (Plain English Campaign) is the best thing to have come our way from England since parliamentary democracy and leavened bread'

Professor Sukanta Chaudhuri, Jadavpur University, India


'NatWest is committed to using clear language. Using plain English is not just a good intention. It is a business necessity.

'We are working more closely with Plain English Campaign. We do not see them as a supplier to be dealt with at arm's length. We see the Campaign as a partner, to be involved from the beginning to the end of a project.'

Lord Alexander of Weedon QC, former chairman, NatWest Group


'We are proud to be a corporate member of Plain English Campaign. We believe in plain English and use it in all our customer contracts.'

Richard Grimes, Rank Xerox (UK) Limited


'Legalese persists for a lot of bad reasons - habit, inertia, fear of change, the overwhelming influence of poorly written opinions and forms, false notions of prestige, and any number of myths about plain language... There are enormous social costs of poor legal and official writing.'

Joseph Kimble, Professor of Law, Thomas M Cooley Law School, Lansing, Michigan

Copyright © 2014 Plain English Campaign. All Rights Reserved.

We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

I accept cookies from this site.

EU Cookie Directive Module Information