Magazine article The Spectator

Election Speak

Magazine article The Spectator

Election Speak

Article excerpt

'It's not good enough just to appear on your doorstep at election times, ' says the leaflet from Chuka Umunna, my local Labour candidate. Which is presumably why he hasn't.

This is not to imply that I have never seen him. I once caught a glimpse of him galloping past my house. I think he was speed canvassing. One of his helpers knocked on my door for a chat, though, which was nice. She was one of those cheerful, ruddy-cheeked, capable-looking community organiser types. The kind who knows how to administer basic first aid to a severed artery. She wouldn't necessarily save your life but she'd make you a bit more comfortable while you were dying.

She wasn't at all fazed by my ranting on about how civilisation as we know it was falling apart. She just smiled and thrust a leaflet at me inviting me to an 'Ed Miliband climate change event' at Streatham community centre. What this was I have no idea because I didn't go. Possibly Mr Miliband single-handedly cooled the area down with the power of his aura.

Mr Umunna's election leaflet is just as mystical. 'Chuka is a 21st-century candidate, ' it proclaims, which makes him sound like the bionic man, a sort of Lee Majors with nuclear-powered limbs come to save the people of south London. Married couple Alice and Jonny, smiling in a park, are quoted as saying: 'We really like Chuka's positive approach: he's more likely to talk up our area and promote the talents of its people, rather than do down the place.'

Hmm. Either Alice and Jonny were beamed down from another planet where they think 'do down the place' is a decent stab at earth-speak or they have had this written for them by an election leaflet-producing centralised computer.

'I am sure Chuka will be the best possible candidate for our locality, ' says the retiring MP Keith Hill, improbably. No one says the word 'locality' except at election time. I'll be glad when all this madness is over and we can go back to saying 'local area' and 'round here'.

A leaflet from Rahoul Bhansali, the Conservative candidate, does little to cheer me up. 'Labour have run Streatham Pool into the ground, ' it says, annoyingly making my brain work overtime to conjure an image of a hole in the ground being driven into the ground. 'Labour-run Lambeth are now directing our swimmers to pools miles away in Wandsworth and even Merton!'

Dear god, the filthy, evil swines, do they have no shame, sending swimmers to pools not in their locality? …

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