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Last updated: 25 february, 2010 - 16:58 GMT

British MEP Nigel Farage insults EU president Herman Van Rompuy

Nigel Farage MEP (l) and Herman Van Rompuy

What is acceptable language for a member of parliament?

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On Wednesday, the UK Independence Party Member of the European Parliament, Nigel Farage, launched a full-frontal assault on the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy.

But he is not the first parliamentarian to descend to personal abuse.

Newshour put together these recent examples of unparliamentary language.

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They are: Paul Keating, former Australian prime minister; then Congressman Joe Wilson, shouting out "You lie!" during President Barack Obama's address to congress on healthcare; and finally Irish MP Paul Gogarty, getting rather incensed in the Irish parliament last year.

So where does Nigel Farage's outburst fit in the context of political insults?

Mary Ann Sieghart asked Matthew Parris, a columist with the Times Newspaper, and author of the book Scorn: an Anthology of Insults.

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First broadcast 25 February 2010

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