Later, during teacher training, I was informed that writing in the third person was evil. You see, all those readability tests (Flesch-Kincaid and the like) say that third-person writing is harder to read, requiring a higher reading age, and therefore excludes the less-able pupil (or student, as we were meant to call them). All writing must be immediate and personal, or the kids will not be able, or wish to, read it. (There's a whole nother post here, but I will refrain.)
But it is still a very useful tool, especially for politicians. Using the third person can make a decision seem more rational than it really is, as it starts to look as though the forces of nature are at work, rather then individuals making personal decisions. Compare:
Quantitative easing has been permitted in order to boost growthwith
We're going to print tons more money so that you lot will feel - temporarily - better off and start to spend again.And of course it becomes a habit. Look at Eric Joyce's comment outside court, where he has just been convicted of a series of violent assaults while angry drunk:
Clearly it's a matter of considerable personal shame.Not "I feel considerable personal shame", but "it's a matter of", which tends to put the events in the category of "descriptions of things that people do". He could have used that exact form of words when commenting on the behaviour of anyone.
Man caught with indecent images on his computer? Clearly it's a matter of considerable personal shame.
Bank chief caught with his fingers in the till? Clearly it's a matter of considerable personal shame.
MP convicted of head-butting a fellow MP while in a radge? Clearly it's a matter of considerable personal shame.
I'm not having a go at the MP. He's obviously got a problem with his intake, and he has behaved dreadfully and paid a price. But it is instructive how, even in moments of personal distress (perhaps especially in moments of personal distress) a politician will use a form of words that suggests that he is a neutral observer of events and is merely commenting on them.
The boiling of the water in the flask is clearly a result of the heat from the bunsen burner below it. Nothing to do with me, guv.