It's a crying shame that David Miliband didn't become Prime Minister last week. There's an interview with him in today's Times in which he begins by saying:
I'm not going to plead not guilty to the charge of thinking
Reading it I found myself all nostalgic for John Major, the greatest British practitioner of litotes, which is asserting something by denying its opposite. (There's a persistent myth among the lower orders of society that litotes is simply a posh Greek way of saying understatement. It is not. If you desperately want a posh Greek way of saying understatement you can make do with meiosis or a noose). For those of you too young, too senile or too foreign to remember John Major there is a helpful biography of him called Not Inconsiderable.
It's also worth noting that litotes is not necessarily a double negative. Puttenham gives the example "I know you hate me not", meaning you love me.
I believe that with David Miliband we have a chance to return to the moral certainties and linguistic bewilderment of the Major years. The second line of his interview went like this:
I think it's quite important to think. In fact, I think that thinking is...
A busy day at the foreign office