Posts Tagged ‘‘You All Spoken Here’’

Words from the Southern US to Describe Ian Duncan Smith

February 3, 2016

ids-slug1

I’ve been going through dictionaries of slang, turning up words and turns of phrase that describe the current head of the DWP, and minister in charge of culling the unemployed, sick and disabled. One of them is ‘Gentleman Ranker’, a 19th century term which described a broken gentleman, who was forced to serve as a private soldier. One of the rumours going around about IDS is that, contrary to his claim to have been an army major, he flunked the course at Sandhurst and was R.T.U.’ed – returned to unit. IDS certainly has pretensions to gentility, and so the term suits him admirably. And looking through You All Spoken Here, a compendium of words and phrases from the southern US, I found a few more terms that could be imported over here to describe this least honourable of Honourable Gentlemen. These are:

‘Coattail politician: One who depends on the favour of a more successful political figure.’ IDS has been an abject failure on his own. His stint as leader of the Tory party was a disaster, as has been his management of the DWP. He is massively incompetent, and his big idea – the consolidation of all the various welfare benefits into a single, Universal Credit, has been marked since its inception with massive cost overruns and postponements. It seems to me that he owes his whole position in the cabinet to his vocal support for David Cameron. And it seems to me that it is only Cameron’s power that’s keeping him there.

‘Snollygoster’: The book defines this as

A tadpole; a pretentious boaster; a political shyster. The Dictionary of Americanisms quotes “a Georgia editor” as defining snollygoster as “a pretentious boaster” and a “fellow who wants office, regardless of party, platform or principle, and who, whenever he wins, gets there by the sheer force of monumental talknophical assumnacy.”

Whatever “talknophical assumnacy” is, deponent knoweth not. But we know the editor quoted was Colonel H.W.J. Ham. He was great shakes as a platform speaker, circa 1890, and on the northern lecture circuit was known as “the Cracker Chaucer.”

The Colonel’s son, Walter Ham, said his father applied the snollygoster tag to “a fellow who is continually side-wiping around after a little office which he can’t get, and which ain’t got sense enough to fill even if he could get it.”

President Harry S. Truman, in his whistle-stop campaign in 1952, renewed interest in the term. This when he applied it to “a group of Republican obstructionists – men of little minds and mean aspirations – who have put party above country and have worked for votes instead of peace.” “Republican snollygosters,” he called them.

The article ends by stating that the term originated as a colloquial word in the south for a tadpole.

It also fairly accurately describes IDS. He is indeed a vain boaster. He claimed that his benefit reforms would end poverty, and likened himself to the great anti-slavery campaigner, William Wilberforce. He has also claimed to have a degree from an Italian college or university, even though that particular institution doesn’t issue first degrees. His management of the DWP is massively incompetent, and he seems to have zero scruples whatsoever.

He and Cameron won their first campaign going round slum estates and expressing concern about poverty in Britain. The book, Red Tory, by Cameron’s political mentor, Andrew Blond, made Cameron’s Conservatism seem more left-wing than Blair’s Labour administration. Once actually in power, of course, the mask came off, and it was back to privatisation, stringent welfare cuts, and the demonization of the poor, the underprivileged, the unemployed and the disabled as usual. Cameron also declared that his ‘would be the greenest government ever’. That also went by the board very quickly. Once in office, Cameron ditched the windmill he’d put over his front door, and set about passing laws to allow fracking, build nuclear power stations and generally set about avoiding any kind of environmental regulations. And now he and Osbo have decided to cut the subsidies for renewables. And despite Osborne’s statement that all this austerity and hardship is to cut the deficit, it’s actually gone up under the Tories. So in that respect, just about the entire Tory front bench are snollygosters.

It’s time to call them what they are, and throw them out of government for good.

Advertisements

An Old Southern Word for Competitive Political Racism

February 3, 2016

I found a term in the book, You All Spoken Here, by Roy Wilder (New York: Viking Penguin 1984) that exactly describes the competitive use of racial rhetoric to beat a political rival. The book’s subtitled ‘A Plunder Room of Words and Phrases used in Common and Not-So-Common Speech As It Is Spoken in Southern Parts of the United States’. In the chapter ‘Reflections on the Political Scene’, it has the term ‘outnigger’, which it defines as ‘Exceed one’s opponent in expressing anti-Black hostility’.

It’s an ugly term, for an ugly practice, and it basically describes the entire Republican stance on race. It’s all carefully veiled, and few of the Republican candidates would ever forthrightly express their hatreds and prejudices in such crude and blatant terms, but nevertheless it describes the boiling hatred they have for Blacks, Mexicans and Muslims, and the way the candidates have competed to express their hostility to those ethnic minorities. It’s couched in the debates about affirmative action programmes and immigration, but nevertheless, it’s still there. And the clear winner in this odious contest is Donald Trump, who has ‘outn*ggered’ everyone when it comes to Mexicans and Muslims.

Of course, this kind of vile rhetoric isn’t confined to the US. It’s been used over here by the Tories and outright Fascist groups like the BNP, ever since the 1970s when some Nazi came up with the slogan, If you want a N*gger for a neighbour, vote Labour’.

And that kind of vile rhetoric isn’t confined to racial groups, either. Under the Tories the right have been doing their utmost to reach new depths smearing and vilifying the unemployed, the poor and the disabled. I think we need a new term to describe this form of political slander.

In the meantime, let’s be brutally honest. Donald Trump is indeed a racist, a throwback to the kind of hick politician associated with the Deep South. And he owes much of his political success so far to outn*ggering everyone in his determination to play on racial fears and hate.