Taking inspiration from John Rentoul’s Banned List, I introduce the Total Politics guide to political jargon. This is by no means either complete or extensive, and I would like to invite all readers to contribute, in the best traditions of social networking.
Keep it clean(ish), although exceptions will be made for submissions of genuine hilarity
Less bile, more laughs: yeah, we know, politicians are all the same, evil bastards, yadda yadda yadda. If you want to contribute that sort of thing, take it to either the Daily Mail or Comment is Free
Please maintain a degree of political neutrality
- Sign my email address up to spam and I will hunt you down and cause you pain. Remember the Hellraiser franchise? “Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell.”
Here are my submissions. Now, let’s do it!
38 Degrees: A website that, with a simple click, allows a constituent to send an already-drafted email on a certain issue to their Member of Parliament. Scourge of bag-carriers who spend hours responding to them all, only to be whinged at subsequently that the letter from their elected representative “was just a standard response”. (See also, irony. Actually, don’t. It’s too depressing).
Adjournment Debate: Debates hosted by backbench MPs who are selected via a ballot. There are two types: those held in Westminster Hall before the main chamber sits, and the “End of Day” debate after formal business has concluded. Sponsoring MPs use these as a way of getting the relevant minister to comment on a local issue, and they are great for press releases. For example, “Local MP, Jim McBackbenchshire, quizzes minister on dog fouling in Boringwold’s public parks” complete with a picture of the boss looking Churchillian in the chamber - regional press gold.
Dimbleby, A: Term for someone who has achieved preferment in their party not down to ability, hard work or any other personality trait, but because of who their parents are.
Douchebag swagger: Sported by an up and coming politico of either the MP or bag-carrying class. This is often nicely supplemented by the swaggerer yelling importantly into a mobile phone.
Early Day Motion (EDM): A form of Parliamentary petition, these are never debated on the floor of the House, although there are discussions about introducing a mechanism to allow them to be. They are basically a bit of a fraud: constituents like MPs signing them because it allows them to think they’ve taken action on an issue they feel strongly about. Lobbyists like them because they can get a friendly MP to table one, encourage others to sign it, and inform their clients that this represents substantial progress. MPs like them because it gives the impression of parliamentary activity. It’s basically 38 Degrees (see also) for Members of Parliament.
Lords Bar: Largely used by House staff, it’s actually pretty good and bag-carriers are allowed in but not on the Terrace.
Presentation Bill: Somewhere between a Ten Minute Rule Bill and an Early Day Motion. The proposer will read out the long title of the Bill and it will be allocated a day for its second reading but, because it will be below the Private Members' Bills on the running order for that day, it will never be got to. Useful for flagging up local issues/concerns (See also, Private Members' Bill, Slaughter of the Innocents, Ten Minute Rule Bill.
Private Members' Bill: Allocated via a ballot, these are Bills that are brought forward by backbench Members and debated on designated sitting Fridays. If an MP is number one or two on the running order, there’s a chance that his or her Bill might make it into law. Largely, however, if the Bill doesn’t have government support, it is easy for the whips to kill it off. (See also, Presentation Bill, Slaughter of the Innocents, Ten Minute Rule Bill).
Researcher: A male member of staff (See also, secretary)
Secretary: A female member of staff. (See also, researcher)
Slaughter of the Innocents: Last sitting Friday of a session, when all it takes to kill a Private Members' Bill is for someone to yell, “Object!” So named because of the high legislative attrition rate on that day. Also a nickname for karaoke night in the Sports and Social.
Sports and Social: The bar for bag-carriers.
Statutory Instrument Committee: The means via which primary legislation is updated or amended after it has received Royal Assent. Famously boring. If you notice your boss has spent nine consecutive Mondays on committees called things like, “Ways And Means Act 1965 (Thickness of Toilet Roll in the Department for Health) (No.2) Order 2012”, you might enquire what they have done to irritate your whips.
Strangers' Bar: Where journalists, booze, and politicians mingle. Never a happy combination in my experience. [Ed: Sadie's post about one particular night in Strangers' when it all kicked off somewhat is well worth a read]
“Sunday”: When used as part of the phrase, “Hello, I am calling from [X newspaper] on Sunday. I have a few questions relating to your MP’s expense claims.” These calls usually occur at 5.15pm on a Friday in the half-hour window between your lawyer calling it a day and heading to the pub, and you attempting to do the same. This is for two reasons. First, you’re more likely to panic and say something stupid. Secondly, they want you have a really rubbish weekend.
Ten Minute Rule Bill: A form of Private Members' Bill, so called because the MP presenting the Bill will speak in support of it for ten minutes. Occasionally these become law if they get government support, but are lower down in the parliamentary scheduling than their balloted-for cousins, the Private Members' Bill (See also, Presentation Bill, Private Members' Bill, Slaughter of the Innocents).
Wamble: (via @jreedmp) Or “Wannabe Alistair Campbell”. This sub-species of the aspirant political advisor class spends a lot of time talking loudly about his important work in the hope that it will make him more attractive to girls (See also, Douchebag swagger)