The case for dropping ‘ConDem’ in political sloganeering


4:43 pm - December 3rd 2010

by Jim Jepps    


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I’ve been particularly excised recently by the constant use of the phrase ‘ConDem’ to describe the coalition government. It’s on leaflets, placards, blog posts and even painted on faces. My problem is that it reeks of dogma.

The moment I hear someone use the phrase I know with absolute certainty that this is not a ‘normal’ person but a political activist.

I’ve never heard any member of my family use the phrase, any of my non-activist friends nor come across it in everyday conversation, even when discussing the government.

The *only* time I hear it in use is from committed political activists. The phrase ConDem simply serves to create an internal language for the left that excludes those we’re seeking to bring in.

It’s effectively the equivalent of the right’s ZaNu-Labour that tried to draw similarities between Mugabe’s regime and Brown’s.

Its sole useful function is that it allows you to identify people who are going to be against the government no matter what happens, effectively ruling them out of any rational debate.

For me, ConDem is very much like the phrase FibDem. Whoever came up with it can feel rightly smug about a nice turn of phrase, but the moment it goes into your everyday language it’s just lazy and childish. These pieces of jargon seek to deepen the tribalism of the situation at the expense of reasoned analysis.

Don’t get me wrong, some people love it. Just as some people like screaming the word ‘SCUM’ at the top of their lungs on demonstrations. God bless them all I say, but I hope it’s worth bearing in mind that while the name calling is an easy way of making one part of the movement feel warm and cuddly it simultaneously makes another part of the movement wince in embarrassment.

Where it’s a question of semantics why adopt jargon that adds nothing to your point but creates a barrier to potential allies enthusiastically embracing your ideas? Even if it’s only 5% of people who end up labelling you as dogmatic, that’s 5% of people that we want, that we’ve lost.

Obviously there’s no neutral way of speaking and we all have dialects and idiosyncrasies that some will like better than others, which is one reason why political and cultural diversity is a good thing when you’re trying to build a movement, but I’m not quite sure that’s the same thing as using language only a clique relate to.

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About the author
Jim Jepps is a socialist in the Green Party and formerly blogged at the Daily (Maybe). He currently writes on London politics, community and the environment at Big Smoke.
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Reader comments


That, and plenty of Tories with a sense of humour crack their own ConDemNation jokes – which suggests it’s not achieving the objective.

YES. It makes me cringe. I would consider myself an activist and I never use it.

It is totally the same as Zanu LiarBore and Dross and Bland (for Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross). It belongs nowhere except a Daily Mail comment box, and we should confine it to the lexical dustbin!

3. Chaise Guevara

Seconded!

“Whoever came up with it can feel rightly smug about a nice turn of phrase”

I think that’s pretty generous. “Fib Dem” is up there with calling our beloved PM “Dave Smellybumface”.

Good piece though. I once got a Labour leaflet that pushed me towards voting Lib Dem, which I ultimately did, merely by referring to them as the Fib Dems throughout. I know it’s not the best rationale, but I find it hard to vote for someone who talks to me like I’m a five year old and probably thinks the Beano is the last word in humour.

You could call the government “LibCon”… oh wait.

Well, I used to use ‘Nu Labour’ (as in ‘Nu Metal’), but I gave up after all the ZaNuLab trolls really got up and running. That said, I can never type ‘the Coalition’ (sic) without hearing bad-guy theme music in the background.

6. Malcolm Armsteen

Oh do give over.

I am not sure I agree, though I appreciate the argument. Shorthand is just that, a way of making a point quickly. It’s perfectly descriptive – just the same as LibLab coalition was – and is only pejorative in context (alright, often in contexts I use it.) And there is much to be gained by uniting people behind a simple idea: that this government is, in almost every arguable sense, a con trick.

And it is USEFUL: just do a quick hashtag search. Exclusive, I don’t think so.

But just think of the confusion if you call them LibCon!

It’s effectively the equivalent of the right’s ZaNu-Labour that tried to draw similarities between Mugabe’s regime and Brown’s.

Spot on. Like ‘ZaNu Labour’ or ‘Tony Bliar’ (or Harriet Hatemen, Dave Chameleon, Boy George etc etc) it’s a perfect signal that the speaker has nothing of interest to say.

10. Stuart White

I think this is one symptom of a more general issue of making sure that the language and actions we use in the anti-cuts movement are accessible and meaningful – and certainly not unattractive – to the wider public we need to address and win over.

For example, singing songs at public protests about building bonfires of bankers and Tories, which I’ve heard a couple of times in the past 2 months, is stupid. Many people passing by a demo will (rightly) be put off by this sort of rhetoric because what will be salient to them when they hear this is the idea of burning people, not the injustices due to bankers and Tories. People with normal moral reflexes shrink from the idea of burning people.

The strength of the anti-cuts movement lies in the contrast between the humanity and decency which our cause represents and the basic inhumanity and indecency of the Coalition’s policies. Overly aggressive, hateful language obscures this contrast, corrupts our message, and harms our cause.

11. Stuart White

All that said (@ 10), I also think ‘ConDem’ itself is pretty innocuous…and perfectly OK if used sparingly.

I wish the Lib Dems had formed a coalition with Labour – for no reason other than LibLab rolls off the tongue so nicely.

Chaise, how DARE you criticise the Beano!

This is absolutely spot on.

I don’t think ConDem is considered that insulting by the targets any way. It’s a not particularly difficult pun, with no real menance (so in many ways much less successful than the dire ZaNu Labour thing or the horrible jokes at Mr Brown’s expense at spreading an image).

But I agree with your point, that it excludes people. I think that Peter @7 kind of makes your point for you:

And it is USEFUL: just do a quick hashtag search. Exclusive, I don’t think so.

If you are an activist, Twitter may well be a major part of your world. If you are not, will the hashtag really matter… It is possible to be exclusive by only appealing to the sort of person who tweets politics you know.

Basically, it is simply grown up politics. If you believe you can win by being the playground bully and calling others silly names in the hope they will run off crying, then fine. But you will lose out in the adult world to those who put forward arguments, not slogans.

15. Chaise Guevara

What’s wrong with Libservative?

“Chaise, how DARE you criticise the Beano!”

LOL. I actually have this genuine, retroactive problem with the Beano, because ten years after reading it it occured to me that it really helped spread the message that weak and/or bright kids were losers. Most of its heroes were bullies. And then I get torn, because I feel like I’m turning into one of those arseholes who complains about every damn tv show because they’ve decided it promotes irresponsible behaviour.

Hmmm, interesting piece. I had never realised that I might be infuriating people by my lazy use of the ‘ConDem’ label. However I don’t think it will stop me using the term, sorry and all that – simply because I think that repeatedly saying ‘the Coalition Government’ can after a time sound pompous and longwinded! And to refer simply to the ‘Government’ is not on for me because I do not want ANYONE to forget that the government is in fact an amalgam of right wing politicians who only got into power because one part of it, the Liberal Democrats party, reneged on most of its pre-election supposed intentions and – as once before with the Social Democrat Party – agreed to anything that would give it a sniff of greater electoral authority.

Since I have heard and read non-activists using the term ‘ConDem’ it doesn’t strike me immediately that a user must, per se, be an activist. Lots of things annoy me in the modern world and if I were to let all of them ‘wind me up’ [to use a phrase that, yes, does annoy me!] I would spend my day so enraged I would have no time for blogging, tweeting, facebooking and activism. What a loss that would be to humanity. So I endeavour to chillax [yes, you’ve guessed it another term I deplore!] particularly when I hear yet another historian use the present tense about, say, the Crusades or a weather forecaster talking about ‘Snow Events’. Umm, perhaps I feel another blog impending….

I still like LiberaTor :->

18. Chaise Guevara

@ 16. Elizannie

What’s wrong with just “the Coalition”? Takes the same time to say as “the Conservatives”.

19. Chaise Guevara

@ 17

“I still like LiberaTor :->”

I remember a thread awhile back where everyone was trying to come up with a single name for Cameron and Clegg. I still favour the Cleggeron, mainly because it sounds like something that’s about to lay waste to downtown Tokyo.

i agree about zanu labour. mugabe never supported the invasion of iraq on trumped up charges and slaughtered 100s of 1000s of people in iraq unlike brown.

@18. Chaise Guevara

I take your point but somehow ‘Coalition’ on its own sounds too cosy to me! Perhaps it is just because I still cannot believe that the LibDems did in fact join up with the Tories!

May I suggest ……….

Conmen/Liedem

Says it all really.

Well if we’re going to take this argument forward than I think from now on all people must refer to Trots as Trotskyite Communists regardless of their political persuasion. Who’s with me?

How about ‘ Cammienicks’ seductive apparel covering unity divided?

How about ‘CammieNicks’ -seductive material covering divided unity?

How about ‘CammieNicks’ ?

OP – Well bloody said. As soon as I hear “ConDem” or “FibDem” I immediately write off the person who said it as a blinkered cretin whom there is no point arguing with.

@22

“May I suggest ……….

Conmen/Liedem

Says it all really.”

Indeed it does say it all, though not perhaps in the way you think…

I suppose what is really coming out of this discussion is how individuals react to certain things. There is a wonderful quote in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’: ‘…you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them’. Today I am realising that words/phrases that do not worry me provoke great emotions in others.

Previously on here I was taken to task for using ‘wo/man’ in a piece to denote a non-sexist approach which apparently made someone sick to the stomach. However what does worry me is the idea that some people would stop reading what might be an otherwise interesting/thought-provoking article because a buzz-word or phrase ‘turned them off’. This could be construed as a form of thought censorship although I really am sure that is not intended by any of the writers. But to any writer it is salutary to realise how easy it is to alienate one’s readership.

Jesus, someone wrote something sensible on LibCon! What’s the date?!

Seriously, to the OP author, well said.

Good luck getting Hundal to stop using ConDem though.

“The Conservative Party” would seem a good description – I’m not really seeing any policies from the Lib Dem manifesto that the Tories do not agree with too aside from a referendum on AV that the Government and media will campaign against

surprised to see this phrase characterised as the product of left-wing activism. it first appeared in tv news coverage of the coalition talks, and is fairly useful shorthand for the coalition. ConLib is less comfortable on the tongue. what exactly is wrong with it? that it sounds like “condemn”?

26

Your leader is a pathological liar, and the tories are con men.

Sorry you have such trouble with reality.

would “TorDem” sound too much like “boredom”?

How about for the Lib Dems

‘Hypocritical, compulsive lying pieces of shit?’

I was going to go with “mendacious toss weasels”, but I suppose the less accurate “the coalition” shall suffice.

Good luck getting Hundal to stop using ConDem though.

*sigh*
can anyone point to the last time I did?

surely if tory and their orange book lib dem friends don’t like the name “condem”(as some of their supporters have shown by their posts on here),then thats exactly what the rest of us should carry on calling them.

how about Conocrat?

I second Chaise Guevara’s proposal of Cleggeron. It has a nice ring to it, with overtones of Klingons.

41. Sunder Katwala

Agree. I don’t use it. Partly aesthetic objection, but the preaching to the converted point is a good one. (Though I imagine it is sometimes used, esp on twitter, simply as shorthand for government, coalition, etc). Since this is LibCon, they would have to be ConLib!

So the use of ConDem is now the test of (political) normalcy (as opposed to abnormal political activists???) – whatever that means – thanks for that, I haven’t laughed so hard all day. In my world, ConDem is part of everyday lingo and little to do with one’s activist cred and it’s not always used as a slur. Personally I think of it as a realist term, indicative of the era we’re living in.

I don’t like the term but it’s not the same – unless, and I do wonder, I am missing something about it being a pun. I thought it was meant to sound like ‘condemn’, which is not the same as comparing a democratically elected government to Mugabe’s murderous party. But am I missing something?

I’ll call the Contraceptive-Literal Demagogue coalition whatever I please thank you very much; for the time being I favour the ConDems, tomorrow it could be Sir Denis Montgomery Thistlewick Jones III, who knows! 😉

@Richard Lawson (38)

As a ‘tr’ into the mix and you have cleggertron and you have the name of a rather sinister, spineless and back-pedling transformer. Sort of a mix between Megatron and Starscream.

I had to search my inner geek for that one! 😀

I completely agree, this has been driving me nuts since about three weeks after the election. Sloganeering – outside an actual demonstration – makes the debate sound trivial. I want our counter-argument to be couched in terms that make us sound like we have an intelligent alternative. Calling the coalition clever names makes us sound smug and limited.

As for the ‘coalition’ sounding cosy; well, that’s sort of what it is, and what the opposition needs to be trying to get across. We’re not going to touch Tory votes yet; Tory voters got what they voted for. It’s LibDem voters we need to swing; calling them names won’t do that. Underlining the cosy nature of their leaders’ position in government might.

I also second Chaise’s idea of referring to David Cameron as “Dave Smellybumface”.
Heh.

I also like how political activists are apparently ‘abnormals’, such freaks you are, being interested in boring politics.

The moment I hear someone use the phrase I know with absolute certainty that this is not a ‘normal’ person but a political activist.

Perhaps we should just remain silent and let the ‘normal’ people get on with the important business of electing this year’s X Factor winner eh?

Likewise burning effigies, which I regard as quite a positive development in political culture. To burn a person in effigy is basically to send a smoke signal saying “I’m a moron, don’t associate with me.”

we burn someone in effigy every 5th of November.

Read, read.

Besides, given the tightly-coiled authoritarian state Labour had wound itself into, the more accurate term is “LiberaTory Coaliton”

Guilty as I am of using most of the shorthand already mentioned, I quite prefer the term “cabinet of millionaires” to describe our beloved leaders.

51. Chaise Guevara

@ 33 Sally

“How about for the Lib Dems

‘Hypocritical, compulsive lying pieces of shit?’”

I know I generally argue with you, and I don’t even agree with the statement, but I have no choice but to award you several hundred coolpoints for that one.

52. Chaise Guevara

27. Elizannie

“I suppose what is really coming out of this discussion is how individuals react to certain things.”

That’s a gutpunch of a good point. You’ve made me realise that my reaction to stuff like Fib Dems has a lot to do with my own personal prejudice: I’ve decided that people who use these terms are dicks, and therefore I don’t listen to them long enough to find out whether or not that’s true. Curses!

And maybe people who use these terms find things about my childish or stupid in the same way (I know that some object to my habit of throwing the word “fuck” around like it was going out of fucking fashion).

Likewise burning effigies, which I regard as quite a positive development in political culture. To burn a person in effigy is basically to send a smoke signal saying “I’m a moron, don’t associate with me.”

Oh come on, that’s going too far surely. You’re dissing about half the Indian sub-continent here in one go

54. scandalousbill

Interesting discussion,

I think the references simply reflect the general disapproval of the coalition and the intentional media bites of the terribkle twins attached at the hip.

I suppose if you give the polls ant credibility they should be called the Lib damned, LOL

55. scandalousbill

apologies for the above ypos, using one og those damned euro keboards!

56. John Rennie

I agree that flippant terms such as ‘condem’ or ‘fib-dems’ are just the childish flip side of ‘bliar-nu-liar-bore’ and people should be more imaginative than endlessly repeating these lame puns. That said, this government is engaged in a vicious class based attack on the poor and the weak. That is scummy behaviour in anyones language so chants of Tory Scum seem to me fair game on demos. Also the new militancy shown by the youngsters engaged in occupations and demonstrations around the country have given the left some much needed vigour. People are justifiably angry and we do not need to engage with Tories masquerading as New Labour voters who wince in emabrrassment when we call a spade a spade. The low turn outs at recent elections suggest that voters might actually want to see politics based on values and ideas they can get behind rather than having to hold their nose and pick the least worst option.

57. Chaise Guevara

“Oh come on, that’s going too far surely. You’re dissing about half the Indian sub-continent here in one go”

Also France.

i really think certain people (dare i suggest, not ‘normal’ people but committed political activists) are reading far too much into this by seeing it as a slogan or some sort of internal language, when it is simply a useful contraction of “Conservative” and “Liberal Democrat”.

“coalition” is not specific enough, and i can’t really see another viable label (although i do personally like “Conocrat”, presumably that would raise the same objections as “ConDem” – though i’m still not entirely clear as to what those are).

59. Chaise Guevara

“I think the references simply reflect the general disapproval of the coalition and the intentional media bites of the terribkle twins attached at the hip.”

Strangely (and demonstrating that I’m half-cut but bringing song lyrics up) I’m listening to Meat Loaf right now and he’s talking about the Coalition:

And all the morons, and all the stooges with their coins
They’re the ones who make the rules. It’s not a game, it’s just a rout.

@3 I rather like ‘Dave Smellybumface’. I hope that one sticks.

Richard Lawson:

I second Chaise Guevara’s proposal of Cleggeron. It has a nice ring to it, with overtones of Klingons.

Nah – it sounds like a Decepticon, which would be more apt.

62. Stuart White

56: ‘That is scummy behaviour in anyones language so chants of Tory Scum seem to me fair game on demos.’

And how do you think this message of ‘Tory scum’ is received by the wider public? Do you think it persuades anyone currently not minded to oppose the Tories to think again?

63. Chaise Guevara

@ 62

“And how do you think this message of ‘Tory scum’ is received by the wider public? Do you think it persuades anyone currently not minded to oppose the Tories to think again?”

Speaking as a member of the wider public, some of the protesters were on my bus to work before the protests, and I was not exactly happy to see TORY SCUM written on their placards. It put me off. I was, however, pleased to discover that the other side read “Sauron would be proud”. More fun.

Hm, but burning effigies as an act of ceremonial commemoration/worship/celebration is a little different. Had I been around in 1605 to witness the beginning of the custom here I would almost certainly have been one of the grumps on the sidelines saying “Huh, morons, I mean he may have threatened to blow up the Houses of Parliament, but that’s no reason to stoop to his level and meet threats of violence with threats of violence, and anyway why are you lot defending parliament? As if them fancy gennelmen in their fancy tights’d give you the time of day, run you through with a pikestaff soon as look at you…”

OK, so we can’t use the contraction “ConDem”, we can’t call the Tories “scum” and we can’t burn politicians in effigy.

This is political correctness gone mad.

66. Chaise Guevara

@ 64

Agreed: Guy Fawkes Night is not the same as making an effigy of a living human being and setting it on fire because you don’t like their opinions.

Don’t get me wrong, people can burn effigies if they want, but it doesn’t exactly draw me to their cause.

67. Chaise Guevara

“OK, so we can’t use the contraction “ConDem”, we can’t call the Tories “scum” and we can’t burn politicians in effigy.”

Um, says who?

The same people who think that these are all strategies designed to nudge the thinker of imagined normal people, rather than a useful contraction, an emotive expression of dislike, and a fun thing to do with old newspaper and glue.

Tron, you’re not one of those people who thinks that pointing out how dumb something is is the same as wanting to ban it, are you? Au contraire, as I said before, it’s a useful signifier…

Ban, no. Obsess about erroenously and try to discourage, yes.

This is hilarious. I refer to the burning of effigies for, as far as I’m aware, the first time ever on this site, and say how I think it’s actually beneficial to political discourse because it allows me to mark out who the idiots are (joking aside, this is a real liberal argument – free speech among its many other virtues is a great way of letting people distinguish who they do and don’t want to associate with). Everybody else thinks this is a mildly amusing aside, but to you it’s “obsessive” and a sign that I’m “trying to discourage” it, despite stating the precise opposite.

Why the defensiveness? You keep effigies in stock for burning or something?

72. Arthur Seaton

Agree with the article. I’ve used it once non-ironically myself in a venomous message , and felt slightly wrong doing so. It’s just plain naff, as was “Bliar” in its day. Its not that the point’s being made aren’t correct , its that puns are a weak way of doing it. A pun only really works the first time you hear it. The third time and you’re sick. By the time it makes it on to placards, you want to throttle the users to death.

Good piece, Jim.

@37 I reckon it’s back in the summer, Sunny. Plus one to you for keeping quiet about it.

I’ve always treated it as a – like ZanuLab and the rest – an attempt to typecast a thing (the coalition) needing a new label as -ve, which also managed to typecast those using it as stuck in shock at the election loss. If they’re coming out of it, then perhaps we should start listening again :-).

Interesting to note that the word has been in use for some time. This is Helen Jones (Lab, Warrington North), in Parliament in March 2008 – of a Local Gov coalition.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2008-03-19b.247.0&s=condem#g247.1

Perhaps labels which stick are useful summaries – iDave and callmedave are good, as is Harperson. Personally, I also quite like Boy George.

Why not call it ‘the National Government’?

I’m sure tories and libdems would love to be called the national government implying the whole country supported them, i’ll stick with condem,if people don’t like it – tough.

Good piece, a labour mate of mine mentioned before this year’s May election that the tories love being referred to as tories as it gives them some sort of street cred. Quite what that is I’m not sure when you look up the full meaning and history of the word ! If my interpretation of the word and history is correct, none of our lot are qualified by a long shot to be tories ?

77. Benfleet Boy

But why do we use the term Coalition and not Collaboration? The latter is defined as either; to work together with another or others on something; or to co-operate or collude with an enemy. Both seem to fit the current stance of the Liberal Democrats. But then, a Coalition is defined as a pact or treaty among individuals or groups, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in their own self interest, joining forces together for a common cause. It’s the “self interest” bit that perhaps makes both interchangeable. However, I find it easier and more accurate to describe individual Liberal Democrat Ministers as collaborators rather than coalitionists.

“However, I find it easier and more accurate to describe individual Liberal Democrat Ministers as collaborators rather than coalitionists.”

Yes, because implying that two other parties working together is treasonous in no way risks getting you labelled as ideologically dogmatic.

yes, god forbid anyone be tarnished as ideologically dogmatic. no doubt, the last thing any of us wants is for other people to think we actually believe in something.

i think that makes us Blair’s children.

I see nothing wrong with calling the government “Con Dems”. It’s a near perfect portmanteau of the two parties names. It’s also short and snappy unlike the phrase “Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition” which doesn’t trip off the tongue so easily. What would you rather us call them? Fluffy fun bundles?

“What would you rather us call them?”

The coalition.

But they aren’t just ‘the Coalition’. That phrase doesn’t mean much, it’s just like referring to a party as ‘the government’. It has no lasting relevance.

Besides, what about other coalitions? The Coalition of Resistance has just the same right to the phrase.

I agree with the opinion that use of “condem” in a purely pejorative fashion does indeed appear childish and is counterproductive. However, the use of it in a grown-up descriptive fashion as in “the condem coalition” government is perfectly acceptable as a similar contraction to the “liblab” government of yore.

As for “political sloganeering”, where would any movement or party be without slogans?

How about a nice acronym? Unfortunately, the only one I can come up with is Conservatives United for Neoliberal Trading and Supply…

Besides, ConDem is strange if it’s meant to evoke “condom”. They’re not all that protectionist, are they…

87. Chiase Guevara

@Tron

“Ban, no. Obsess about erroenously and try to discourage, yes.”

So you admit that when you said “we can’t burn effigies” etc. you were talking nonsense?

The fact that people disagree with you is not “political correctness gone mad”, it’s, um, freedom of speech. I hate people who act as if contrary opinion oppresses them.

88. Chiase Guevara

* Rereading, that sounds like it implies “and therefore I hate you”, which isn’t what I’m trying to say.

Is it possible that the Left are too busy looking up their own arses that they completely miss what is going on around them? Do we really think that people all over Britain are thinking: ‘Gee, I wish somebody would attack these cuts, but not those people who call the coalition the ‘ConDems’, these people are just the political classes? People are being damaged by the cuts; their lives are being ruined. ‘Someone’ needs to start looking after the interests of these people and exposing their plight to the media and the general public. Having long internal discussions on what to call ‘the enemy’ (if that is not too a controversial label) smacks of the petty self indulgent crap that was satirised in things like ‘The life of Brian’ a generation ago.

‘The Community charge’

When you read the above, did you think of the ‘poll tax’? I bet many of you did. The poll tax was used by the Left to stigmatise it all those years ago. It quickly replaced the official name in common usage and was used everywhere. In newspapers, TV even Parliament, by both those who supported it and equally those who bitterly opposed it.

Don’t sweat the small stuff guys.

I have faithfully read all the comments. No-one is going to change their mind, all points are good. I sent a political message out to someone last night and because I love puns and word play I said something about we must keeping fighting [obviously in a pacifist sense] against these cuts other future generations will be condem-ed [deliberate mis-spelling to emphasise my point]

You say potaaato, I say potahhto. Lets get back to the real business of arguing with Cameron, Clegg et al – in fact anyone who does not live up to our Socialist ideals. And we can all call the government whatever names we like…

@ 90
against these cuts other future generations will be condem-ed = against these cuts otherwise future generations will be condem-ed
I shouldn’t try to be so clever when I am so tired!

I broadly agree with you about ‘ConDem’, Jim. But I think your condescension towards the term ‘FibDem’ and to whoever invented it (I think it may have been John Matthissen, but the term is now very widespread) is less merited, and shows a possible weakness in your case.
The case for the term ‘FibDem’ is that it accurately indexes an important feature of the LibDems as political animals – that almost every leaflet they produce contains at least one fib (at least one distorted bar chart, for instance). The case for the term ‘ConDem’ is much weaker. All the term really has going for it is an aural allusion to ‘condemn’, and some general suggestion that the govt is a ‘con’. Not bad – but not enough. No cigar. _That_ is why the term ‘ConDem’ should probably be put on the backburner, or at least reserved primarily for contexts in which we are only talking among ourselves (pubtalk, and its net equivalents).

‘I’m sure tories and libdems would love to be called the national government’

No, they’d hate it. The historically aware ones anyway.

94. Chiase Guevara

@ 92

“The case for the term ‘FibDem’ is that it accurately indexes an important feature of the LibDems as political animals – that almost every leaflet they produce contains at least one fib (at least one distorted bar chart, for instance).”

So? Every political party does that. I remember a Labour leaflet calling the local Lib Dems liars because they hadn’t delivered on a campaign pledge (hint: manifesto pledges only need to be kept if you actually win the national election). Trying to make it a Lib Dem issue is ridiculous, it’s a bit like saying “the problem with the Tories is they evade direct question in interviews” or “I hate the way Labour MPs hang around in the House of Commons all the time”.

I’m happy to let people use whatever labels they want, but to remember that labels tell us about two groups – the people they are stuck on, and the people doing the sticking.

96. Chiase Guevara

@ 94

To be clear, the leaflet I was talking about was sent out while Labour were in power, not after the last election. So it was basically attacking the local MP for not delivering on a national policy.

>You say potaaato, I say potahhto.

This could get amusingly abusive 🙂

You say . I say “arsehole”.

Gah. It deleted my “insert politician” before the fullstop.

Labels are childish and only attract children to giggle along with. I’m totally on board with this article, the attitude of many a labour supporter and how they choose to define their “debates” has left me not feeling any desire to engage with them.

And to also comment as Chiase has done to Rupert, the idea that the Lib Dems are the only ones who tell lies as a political party is hilarious. I know you feel slighted in particular by the Lib Dems, but any kind of continued support for stupid labels like “FibDems” is only showing you up to be pretty damn petty, rather than right.

@87

But there is a tut-tutting moral compunction here. “How will we ever convert the curtain-twitchers to our noble cause if we do scary things or use neologisms?!”

If I go on protests and burn effigies (I’ve never actually done the latter, but by god this thread has made me determined to do it at the first opportunity), it’s because I am passionately opposed to something and wish to express my opposition – I’m not seeking to recruit people, and I think I am more likely to convince people that this thing is important and they should probably oppose if I’m more passionate (so, burning effigies, not a problem).

If I use the term “ConDem” it’s for the same reason that all the other ‘normal’ people do (I can’t be bothered to say “Conservative and Liberal Democrat”) – and they do, however much one fraction of committed political activists think it’s just another fraction of committed political activists.

ConDem is perfectly accurate, it is a contraction of Conservative and Democrat. Conservative has always been shortened to Con and as the dominant partner should have precedence in the contracted word. Liberal Democrat is more problematic, ConLibDem sounds like three parties and while the LIberal Democrats may still have a vestigial title from the days of the Social Democrats, said party no longer has any separate identity. What’s the alternative? ConLib sounds like one of those weird words the Americans made up during the Cold War like CONELRAD. ToryLib sounds like a pressure group for in-the-closet gentry.

I’m all for honesty in naming and perhaps its time to rename the political parties to reflect what they have become, Labour would have to be renamed Capital, the Conservatives are now conservative only in social policy being radical right wing in economic policy so would best be described as Rich Idiots And Toadies while the LibDems will do anything to sit next to the big boys and should be renamed Mini-Me.

Does it matter what they’re called? The public may hold politicians in contempt but the feeling is more than mutual, most are in safe seats and their priority is sucking up to the party heirarchy and business, the only time the electorate float across their minds in during an election. Their contempt can be seen from this year’s manifestos: Labour’s was just plain desperate, the Conservatives didn’t have one except for not being Gordon Brown and the LibDems was the exact opposite of what they now profess to believe. And saying things were worse than they thought in opposition is just feeble, what’s the next duplicitous toad going to say? “I had my fingers crossed”. The depth of cynicism is hown by the speed and relish with which the governement has implemented cuts it didn’t put in is manifesto. I believe these cuts were planned well in advance and concealed from the electorate. Almost all politicians are monsters of vanity, greed and stupidity which is why they are politicians and they have the sensitivity of armour plating and simply do not care what the plebs call them. Renaming George Osborne as Mr Snuggly Fluffikins would not make him any smarter or more likable than a dead goat.

I’ve come to think of this government as The Human Centipede. Nick Clegg, his teeth extracted, has had his mouth surgically attached to David Cameron’s sphincter and now survives on a diet of Tory excremement.

102. Chiase Guevara

@ 100

That’s entirely fair enough, and I do think that intellectual arrogance is an ingredient in the instinctive dislike of stuff like ConDem. It’s just that the people you’re trying to convince are also capable of thinking this way, and if they’re anything like me they’ll find playground insults* a real turn-off.

*I accept that ConDem doesn’t fall into this category as easily as Fib Dem or New Liabore, as it is a reasonable contraction rather than a straight-up insult.

>That’s entirely fair enough, and I do think that intellectual arrogance is an ingredient in the instinctive dislike of stuff like ConDem.

This still going?

I think that moral arrogance is an ingredient of the coining of stuff like ConDem…

M

Just realised whilst ‘having a go’ at someone on twitter that recognisable abbreviations of any sort are so necessary when trying to get a pithy message into the character and spaces limit!

The idea of deriving a name for a political party as a term of abuse is nothing new. People are happy to use the term ‘Tory’ but have the origins of that word been considered?

From Wikipaedia:

The word derives from the Middle Irish word tóraidhe; modern Irish tóraí: outlaw, robber, from the Irish word tóir, meaning “pursuit”, since outlaws were “pursued men”. It was originally used to refer to an Irish outlaw and later applied to Confederates or Royalists in arms. The term was thus originally a term of abuse, “an Irish rebel”

I shall offer a poem from the Faber book of Popular Verse:

Ho, brother Teig, what is your story?
I went to the wood and shot a Tory.
I went to the wood and shot another,
Was it the same or was it his brother?
I hunted him in, I hunted him out,
Three times through the bog, out and about,
Till out through the bush I spied his head,
So I levelled my gun and I shot him dead.

…not that I would advocate the use of violence in any form and for any reason.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    The case for dropping 'ConDem' in political sloganeering http://bit.ly/fIwaeB

  2. Greg Foster

    The case for dropping ‘ConDem’ in political sloganeering http://retwt.me/1PZ3U

  3. Ellie Mae

    RT @libcon: The case for dropping 'ConDem' in political sloganeering http://bit.ly/fIwaeB << yes!!!

  4. Nigel Stanley

    RT @libcon: The case for dropping 'ConDem' in political sloganeering http://bit.ly/fIwaeB. >>hear, here. Not clever, funny or strategic

  5. Richard Simcox

    Never used it, it was funny for about five seconds RT @NigelStanley: RT @libcon: The case for dropping 'ConDem' http://bit.ly/fIwaeB

  6. Get Political Fund » Blog Archive » The case for dropping 'ConDem' in political sloganeering | Liberal …

    […] Original post: The case for dropping 'ConDem' in political sloganeering | Liberal … […]

  7. Caspar 01

    RT @libcon: The case for dropping 'ConDem' in political sloganeering http://bit.ly/fIwaeB

  8. Bored London Gurl

    RT @libcon The case for dropping 'ConDem' in political sloganeering http://bit.ly/fIwaeB << it's just a word! I like it

  9. Paul Crowley

    RT @libcon: The case for dropping 'ConDem' in political sloganeering http://bit.ly/fIwaeB

  10. tom dissonance

    RT @libcon: The case for dropping 'ConDem' in political sloganeering http://bit.ly/fIwaeB

  11. Dick Mandrake

    RT @sunny_hundal People should stop using 'ConDem’ in political slogans and campaigns, says @JimJepps – http://is.gd/i9EC8 < Finally.

  12. Dan West

    RT @libcon: The case for dropping 'ConDem' in political sloganeering http://bit.ly/fIwaeB

  13. paulstpancras

    The case for dropping ‘ConDem’ in political sloganeering | Liberal Conspiracy
    http://bit.ly/eY1fO1

  14. Huw Irranca-Davies

    Not the end of the ConDems, but a case for dropping ‘ConDem’ in political sloganeering | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/hHnDIvM via @libcon





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