Friday, 29 October 2010


In the past I have written about the (in my opinion) puerile habit Labour has of calling the Liberal Democrats the 'Liberal party'. Not calling opponents by their proper name, and indeed calling them by a politically dead name, is puerile.

And they obviously knew it, because during the coalition negotiations after the election, Labour and Gordon Brown were notable for properly calling them the 'Liberal Democrats'. Since the formation of the coalition with the Conservatives, however, they are now back to referring to them as the 'Liberal party'. It is childish. Someone criticised me for this point, saying it was unimportant (something I obviously do not agree with).

For clarity, there is no problem with the Liberal Democrats being called 'Liberals'; it is an accepted shortening. Calling them the Liberal Party, however, refers back to another and much older organisation. In doing so, it ignores the Labour split that formed the SDP and then, later, the Liberal Democrats.

It has got worse, however. Many people are calling the coalition the 'ConDems', a term that has obvious negative connotations. It is playground politics; labelling the opposition negatively in a hope that it will catch on. It is not about politics; it is about playground name-calling.

I can understand the political laity doing it - such labelling is common in the playground, especially by bullies. However, it is worrying when MPs such as Chris Williamson engage in it. They may not like the Coalition or the Conservatives; there are many good reasons not to. However, both the parties (and the coalition) represent a large proportion of the population, and are hardly extremist. They deserve just as much respect as the Labour party. MPs should realise that when they disrespect another MP, they are also disrespecting that MP's constituents.

The media are not helping; they are allowing commentators, MPs and callers to refer to the coalition as the 'ConDems'. It should not be allowed. Any professional commentator referring to them as such should be cut off air.

Labour's hypocrisy on this is startling, even for them. There were angry howls when Jeremy Clarkson - not even a politician - called Gordon Brown a 'one-eyed Scottish idiot'. Yet Labour politicians and commentators feel perfectly free to call George Osborne 'Boy George', a nickname that infers not only inexperience but also perpetuates other rumours about him.

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me". Whilst that may be the case, names can shape debate, and that will happen if 'ConDems' is allowed to gain currency. Name-calling cheapens politics, and should not be engaged in by politicians.

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