Could Bad Grammar Cost the Election?

Does it matter that a parliamentary candidate doesn’t know the possessive apostrophe should be used for a measurement of time?

Well, as far my vote is concerned, yes it does.

Home from work yesterday and two election leaflets are lying on the mat. One – national – from UKIP: the other – local – from the Conservatives. Let’s see what they have to say. UKIP first…

Sam – the candidate whose picture seems to suggest that his underpants are far too tight – has over 10 years service. Oh dear, not a good start.

Sam campaigns on ‘Stop the waste of Tax-payers money’,

So it goes on. A Trustee of Dial-a-Ride and a Lion. Sam has not claimed one penny in expenses.

There are ten grammar mistakes in nine lines. Whatever mistake your English teacher beat you about the head with, Sam’s made it. But never mind, here’s the Conservative leaflet. The party of Michael Gove and a radical reform of education: this will be perfect, I’m sure.

Andrew is a very active councillor … Issues been dealt with have been many and varied. Among his achievements has been getting the bus shelters renovated. And on to Andrew’s running mate. Luke as a young family man with major concerns. His wife, Victoria, have a baby daughter…

Had my daughter – the writer in the family – produced rubbish like that when she was 12 or 13 I’d have sent her back to her bedroom and told her to do her homework properly. Then I’d have had a little cry…

Does it matter, though? Clearly good grammar isn’t the only measure of intelligence or fitness to hold public office. And people probably won’t notice the mistakes anyway: after all, more than 50% of the UK population now think ‘should of’ is correct.

But I can’t vote for someone who writes like that. After all, if you can’t be bothered to make sure your leaflets are correct, why should I think you’ll be bothered about my neighbour’s hedge – or the bus shelters?

There’s an exact parallel with business websites. Our hotel has a stunning view of Whitby Abby. Well I’m sure Abby’s a really nice girl…

Again, you may not think it matters. But there’s now firm evidence that poor grammar and bad spelling is costing British business a lot of money. As above: if the hotel doesn’t care about getting its website right, why should I think it’ll care about getting my breakfast right?

Back to the central question. Do I really think bad grammar will cost anyone the election? Probably not. But do I think bad grammar and poor spelling could lose your business a client or a customer? Without a doubt.

If you want to have absolute confidence in your website give me a call. For the average site, reading through it and checking the grammar is a morning’s work. I’ve also got a crib-sheet on the ten most common grammar mistakes: if you’d like a copy, let me know.

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