Four Cliches In British Politics That Need Retiring

A week is a long time in politics.

This seems all the more true when the same lines keep popping up time and time again, whether it be through the mouths of politicians, political pundits or the general public themselves.

Often these throwaway lines are easy to remember and digestible, but lack any real substance.

But more than anything, I find them irritating and would gladly banish them to Room 101 (Remember that show?)

So here are my four picks for cliched utterances that need retiring from British political discourse. Forever.

In no particular order…

‘Mood of the Nation’

This retort often pops up whenever criticism of the government reaches high levels on social media. Should blatant incompetence be pointed out, there’ll always be one or two defenders to insist that the critics in question (Be they opposition MPs or the media) are ‘misjudging the mood of the nation’.

The ‘mood of the nation’ is such a flimsy phrase that it almost beggars belief that it’s caught on. How exactly does one measure a nation’s collective mood?

Much like ‘national treasure’ and ‘nation’s sweet-heart’, the term seeks to unify us behind a particular sentiment.

I’m sure we’d all like to be optimistic but when you’re treated to a litany of government fumbles and misjudgments, it’s very hard to remain confident in the government’s abilities.

‘It’s A Shambles’

If any phrase has proved the importance of a thesaurus, it’s this one!

‘Shambles’ has seemingly become the go-to word to describe all manners of government incompetence — whether it be spiraling death rates from COVID-19 or delays in Brexit negotiations.

All in all, the word is overused and now ceases to mean anything. If thousands of people dying can be described with the same word used to describe departure from the European Union, it’s a fluffy word lacking substance.

Others words that can be used instead: Calamity, Catastrophe, Disarray, Chaos, Mess, Disorder, Muddle.

Words are your friends!

‘Little England’

This saying is so elitist that I’m surprised it’s use on Twitter doesn’t come with a upturned nose emoji.

The term often appears on #FBPE Twitter (For those not in the know, this stands for #Follow Back Pro European), where tweeters are left feeling faint at the sight of a Union Jack and spend most of their time picking fights and being generally irritating.

As is evident by their name, the FBPErs are pro European Union, and often display great resentment at the UK for voting to leave it. As a result, we see the phrase ‘Little England’ batted about with contempt.

The connotations of ‘Little England’ are that English people are inward looking, narrow minded, racist, stupid and lack curiousity about the world. Interestingly, the phrase ‘Little Wales’ has not entered the lexicon, despite the fact that Wales voted to leave the EU by 52 percent.

Ultimately, ‘Little England’ is a phrase used by people who consider themselves smarter than Brexit voters. It’s elitist, it’s annoying and it’s been used so much that it’s lost all meaning.

Just stop.

‘Imagine if Corbyn had won…’

This one has only gained usage in light of the 2019 General Election, in which Jeremy Corbyn led the Labour Party to it’s worst electoral defeat since 1931. Since then, Corbyn has stepped down as leader, and the Conservatives’ short-lived victory buzz was dampened by the Coronavirus Pandemic that would follow shortly afterwards.

You would be hard-pressed to find many in the country who thinks the government have handled the Pandemic well.

Yet, Conservative supporters still try and deflect criticisms with the flippant remark, “Imagine how bad things would be if Corbyn had won.”

This irritates me, even though I was not a fan of Corbyn. But my reasons for not wanting a Corbyn government are entirely unrelated to matters concerning a global pandemic (After all, very few people went to the polls in 2019 with the thought, ‘Hmm, which guy would better handle a dangerous viral outbreak?’)

The statement that Corbyn would have been worst is based on exactly zero evidence. It’s not like the Labour Party laid out a disastrous policy designed to tackle global pandemics, that we can look back on and go, “Phew! Dodged a bullet there!”

Ultimately, this statement boils down to intellectual laziness. The people saying this are stumped when it comes to defending the current government’s policies and have to fall back onto Corbyn bashing.

But Corbyn is no longer the Labour leader. His bogeyman status among the political right in Britain is due for a retirement.

Ultimately, what drives me crazy about the above statements is that they reek of a lack of creativity.

Rather than thinking for ourselves, we often repeat cliches that we know have gained popular usage.

It shows a lack of independent thinking and it’s something I wish would like to see change as we slowly begin to re-emerge into ‘normal’ political discourse.

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Ben Thompson

Ben Thompson

22 year old writer and journalist from Manchester, UK.