A dictionary of British politico-speak

Theresa May suffered her first big Commons defeat on Brexit this week. David Davis said that he was disappointed, which is politico-speak for banging your head off a wall until it bleeds while screaming for your mother. This isn’t the usual definition of disappointed, but when British politicians say words those words don’t usually mean what those of us who are encumbered by handicaps like merely being fluent in the language might expect them to mean.

It’s helpful these days to be able to decode what politicians actually mean when they say something, because the words that come out of their mouths bear very little resemblance to what has actually happened. What we really need is a dictionary of British politico-speak. Like when Boris Johnson said that he apologised if other people had misinterpreted what he had said, which really means that he’s a liar liar pants on fire and he’s upset that he got caught out. Or when Theresa May says she’s going to be very clear you know that what you’re in for makes less sense to the average human being than the collected works of Wittgenstein translated into Klingon by Google while using a Sinclair Spectrum computer. Or when anyone in the Conservative party refers to Michael Gove as my honourable friend, what they really mean is “that duplicitous backstabbing slimy wee bawbag bastert wi a coupon like a well skelpt airse”.

The defeat suffered by the government – well I say suffered by the government, it’s really the rest of us who have to do the suffering – centred on another of the 21st century’s British politico-speak novel interpretations. This time it was all about the obstensible reason for leaving the EU, which was taking back control and restoring full sovereignty to the British parliament. It’s just that restoring the full sovereignty of the British parliament has turned out to mean giving the prime minister of the day untrammelled powers to do pretty much whatever he or she likes without having to be held to account by a parliamentary debate or to bother their pretty little head with annoying trifles like having to explain themselves. Restoring the full sovereignty of parliament really means reducing the sovereignty of parliament. Although we were told by our honourable friend Michael Gove, amongst others, that the full sovereignty of parliament was going to be restored, which really ought to have told us everything that we needed to know about the veracity of the promise. And it wasn’t even written on the side of a bus. However, many MPs were unhappy with a government which planned on ramming through a Brexit deal which was supposed to be all about restoring sovereignty to the British parliament, and then not actually allowing that parliament to have any meaningful say on what that deal might be.

Some Conservatives actually had enough integrity to rebel and to insist that the government needs to give parliament a meaningful say on the Brexit deal. Although saying that there’s a Tory who has retained some integrity isn’t saying a great deal really. A piece of sweetcorn that’s passed through your digestive system and is excreted out the other end has also retained some integrity, but it’s still embedded in foul smelling crap and it’s not as if you’d like to have it on your plate.

The Daily Mail was furious though, so that was a result. As a rule of thumb, anything which annoys the Daily Mail is good news. The far right lunatic end of the Brexiteers, which is most of them really, were crying betrayal. It’s a remoaner coup! Although when a government is defeated in parliament by a vote of MPs that’s kind of the exact opposite of a coup, but then this is an article about how British politicians use words to mean the opposite of what the rest of us use them to mean, so that was only to be expected.

None of Scotland’s Tory MPs voted against the government, just like none of them voted against the government in an amendment the previous day which the Conservatives managed to defeat.  That’s defending Scotland’s interests in British politico-speak.  The amendmentwould have prevented the government from using the so-called Henry VIII powers to make unilateral changes to the devolution settlement. Scotland’s Tory MPs are quite happy for the government to do that, and they’re quite happy for the government to ram through a Brexit deal without having to bother with minor irritations like democracy or accountability. Let’s face it, if it doesn’t involve making crass remarks about the Travelling Community or disabled people, Scottish Tory MPs just aren’t interested. I’d say that their hearts weren’t in it, but that would imply that they had hearts to put in.

The Tories and the Scottish Unionist media are sure as hell not standing up for Scotland’s interests in this universe. It’s even unfair to say that there is a parallel universe in which the Scottish Conservatives and their pals in the Scottish Unionist media are defending Scotland’s interests. It’s more like a universe which has wandered off on a wee tangent of its own. It may be the universe where half the population of Glasgow are Tories, and most people in Dundee are posh people with upper class English accents. You know, the universe where Question Time finds its audiences.

It’s not that the Scottish Conservatives have burned out, because that would imply that they had some sort of fuel to begin with. They were in fact being entirely propelled by hot air from the Scottish Unionist media but that’s not enough to sustain them, hence their inevitable decline in opinion polls. Today the Tories are upset about the Scottish budget and an increase in income tax for high earners and hoping that their vileness and incompetence in Holyrood can be a distraction from their vileness and incompetence in Westminster. “It’s a tax on aspiration!” harrumphed Murdo Fraser. Some of us aspire to have decent public services though. Some of us aspire to live in a society where the better off pay more than the poor.  Some of us aspire to a country which provides for the disabled.  Personally I’m happy to pay a wee bit more in tax if it means pissing off some raving British nationalist zoomer on the internet.

Naturally there was a howl of outrage in the Scottish media about how the Tories are less effective at standing up for Scotland in Westminster than some wet toilet paper studded with a couple of pieces of digested sweetcorn. Of course you need to read that sentence in the same way that you’d read any sentence uttered in British politico-speak, so it really means “Oh no, the other thing.” The same newspapers which trumpeted the Vow and yelled to the heavens that a No vote really meant stronger devolution and entrenched powers for the Scottish Parliament were predictably silent when Westminster delivered the opposite, just as they’re silent on how Ruth Davidson and her wee band of saviours of the Union are doing precisely bugger all to stand up for Scotland’s interests.

You might think, if you were a reasonable person, that it would strengthen the Union if Scottish Tory MPs defended Scottish interests and if Scottish Unionist newspapers held a Westminster government to account. Clearly neither the Tories nor their media pals consider the people of Scotland to be reasonable. They might hope that we don’t notice, but we do. That’s precisely why the UK’s days are numbered.


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0 thoughts on “A dictionary of British politico-speak

  1. Pingback: “A dictionary of British politico-speak” | Wee Ginger Dug | COMRADE BOYCIE: VIVA THE ANTI-TORY/UKIP/DUP REVOLUTION!

  2. Politics as it is practised.

    Spin, fib, rinse and repeat. Amendment 158’s vote still hasn’t warranted any mainstream attention even though it is an utter betrayal of not just devolution, but the concept of union, partnership and equality.

    As for the rantings of the usual suspects on today’s Scottish budget?

    They’re upset because it was a pretty sound budget. They’re upset because they have no alternative budget to offer. They’re upset because they have no alternative policies to offer. They’re upset because they are reduced to sniping from the sidelines with playground childish politics. They have neither the courage or the imagination to chart their own course and hold it up for comparison and why? Mainly because they are not in charge of their respective parties.

    They are merely local branches of mainstream unionist parties and their budget and policy decisions are made elsewhere.

    The Scottish government made a decent fist of producing a budget from a reducing handout. They made a decent fist of a bad deal. Most folk need to bear in mind that Scotland is NOT in charge of its own economy. UK gov is in charge of the economy. The wealth creating taxes and competences are held by UK gov. What Scotgov does is dispense funds to pay for devolved competences and latterly mitigate someone elses’ car crash handling of the economic powers. That would be mainly successive Conservative and Labour governments. The same folk whose local spokeswonks are girning from the sidelines.

    It’d be an even better budget if mitigation was not involved right enough, but then it’d be a nice change if we were totally responsible for our own economy.

    I think what offends most is their dishonesty, their unwillingness to admit their failure, their responsibility for the UK’s economic and political woes and their inference that they have done no wrong and are incapable of doing any wrong.

    The UK political class and their pet meeja.

    Well done them.

  3. Absolutely your finest piece in a long time, Paul. I howled – with laughter and rage alternately – all the way through reading this. Your description of Michael Gove and your definition of Tory integrity will linger long in my memory! This post deserves the widest possible circulation – it’s a masterpiece!

  4. Agree with your message Paul.

    In a similar analogy the great unionist media have made it ‘them and us’ issue with the Brexit negotiations. It’s like they forgot they agreed the talks format and structure during the first week of discussion. Now it is the EU having a go at us and brave Theresa and David fighting the good fight for us.

    Then you keep hearing that the EU has been frustrated at the UK’s lack of detail. They have even asked us to bring along the detail of the trade agreement we want. No chance, we will bring a 20 pager with Mr Davies smiling like a numpty who knows his stuff. Then Davies goes back on the phase one talks. What an unprofessional pratt.

  5. Leask on twitter claiming it was the Vow that allowed the SG to do what it did in the budget, asking for praise for it. I noticed Wings asked him was he claiming ownership of the Vow or not. Leask has flopped back and forward on that issue. He didn’t answer.

  6. Had a look on twatter to see how the yoonstream are faring. DANG! 😮

    They are in a complete tizz of spin and fibbery this morning. With, it has to be said, some creative mathematical skills of their own on show. MEGALOL 😀

    If you value your sanity and you don’t want your IQ to drop significantly, I’d avoid the twattersphere today. It’s full of some very upset Britnats who can’t decide whether the Scottish government taxed too much or not enough. Taxed the right people. Taxed the wrong people. Shouldn’t have used the tax powers they’ve been begging Scotgov to use since… forever. The list of confused mentalness is nigh on endless, which means only one thing.

    Mr Mackay did no bad. No bad at all. 😀

    • Well, the Daily Mail and the Tories have have lots in common and one thing above all: A disturbed relationship with the truth. Lies, lies & lies again and permanently propagating falsehoods. What happened to honest journalism? Their “whatever the SNP does is bad”- stance has reached almost unbelievable, ridiculous proportions and I am convinced that the people of Scotland are slowly seeing through this very biased, with an own agenda, type of reporting. I hope one day all their lies will come back to haunt them…

      Meanwhile: Congratulations to Nicola Sturgeon for her response: https://twitter.com/NicolaSturgeon/status/941600321599569921

      The lies of the Tories, the BBC, of the rightwing rags like the Daily Mail have to be pointed out every time now!

  7. Mackay did good all things considered and Patrick Harvie seemed to be swinging his way although he’s trying to say greens had a major part in it in today’s national but the torys and labour nothing but moan moan moan they left Derek Mackay so many open goals it was ridiculous and macintosh was a disgrace letting the torys shout the snp back benches question down so Derek couldn’t hear the question the Yoons are in knots there wacthing that britnat train wreck

  8. Without the Britnat media British nationalism in Scotland would be a long-dead anachronism. I see it as a good sign that Britnat media is increasingly becoming more and more desperate in its lies and deceit. It’s all it has. Constant negativity will always destroy itself in the end.

  9. What this week’s excellent budget has confirmed is that the Red Blue and Yellow Tories will lie, cheat, and support each other to bring down Scotland the nation.
    Budgets aren’t produced to fund public services, to finance Health Education, and keeping the street lights on if you are an ‘aspirational’ Tory of any hue.
    No it’s all about reducing the burden on the well off, driving the rest of us into 18th Century serfdom and early deaths.
    It is of little consequence to these people that 260,000 of our children, 500,000 adults are dying a slow death by WM Unionist Brit Nat instigated class genocide, cynically dubbed ‘austerity’, and that despite 62% and counting of Scots citizens opting to remain within the EU, are all our Holyrood Yoons are now rabid Brexiteers, just to save their miserable little skins.
    They have a great wee job that pays well, just as long as they cow tow to their Englsh Masters.
    England is lost to us now.
    Watch 5 minutes of of last night’s QT from Bradford.
    The wild eyed crazed xenophobes and Little Englanders drown out any alternative now.
    I volunteer to carry the hod for the brickie who builds a border at Gretna.

  10. I’m always amazed by the Yoons claim that higher taxes drive people out of the country. Where to? Decisions decisions, pay the price of a coffee each day to improve our country or sell the house, move to Landaan, buy a flat half the size at double to price just to prove SNP Baaaad

    • I popped on to the Herald Britland to sample their mad Yoon BTL comments. They’re at Scotsman mad Ultras level now.
      One Maddie in criticising Del Boy’s Tax On The Rich budget actually wrote that NHS England was getting more money in real terms..I love ‘in real terms’. It is yet another Big Fat Lie.
      ‘In real terms’ NHS England is charged with ‘making savings and efficiencies’ of £20 billion during the current Parliament.
      ‘Savings and efficiencies’ since we are on Paul’s excellent piece lampooning the Yes Minister garble from WM, means cuts and redundancies.
      The heads of England’s NHS screamed blue murder and this led to the cuts being reduced to ‘only’ £20 billion in sackings and cuts to vital services.
      The £10 billion that is not to be cut by staff sackings, and longer waiting times, is now described by Jeremy Hunt, as ‘ an additional £10 billion being put into NHS England.
      That’s how cynical and unforgiving these social vandals are.
      Hence some zoomer Yoon in the Herald spouts unsubstantiated pish and it gets published as gospel.
      People are dying and these arseholes continue to lie. You Herald Britland BTL idiots are as culpable as your Tory masters.
      You are helping to kill people.

  11. Agreed. I admit to getting a bit peeved when the electorate is exonerated from the consequences of their choices as if they were poor, trusting innocents misled by devious tricksters. Tricksters, they often are, but politicians are rarely so clever and the electorate are rarely so lacking in guile that they can be made to swallow anything. Venal and self-serving as these Tory politicians are, it can’t be denied that many of their voters know that very well when they vote for them.

    If you vote for a party which is about serving the narrow interests of a few, then you approve of those policies.

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