UK Politics

2013: A political year in words

Politicians always have plenty to say. Here is the pick of some of the words and phrases of 2013.

Alcohol - As David Cameron scrapped plans for a minimum price for booze, Ed Miliband asked if there was anything the prime minister could organise in a brewery. Cheeky.

Andor (Laszlo) - The EU Commissioner warned the UK it risked looking "nasty" if it curbed benefits and pushed for restrictions on free movement within Europe. David Cameron called the comments "unacceptable".

Image caption The head honcho is known as the "big boss" by his Chinese fans

Big boss - Cameron fever hit the world's second-biggest economy, as the PM and about 100 of the country's biggest business figures (OK, some of them were a little more on the small and medium enterprise side) touched down to sell, sell, sell. He joined the Mandarin social network site Weibo, with embassy staff proclaiming the "Big Boss" was online.

Image caption Electric blankets are energy-efficient but not politically wise, necessarily

Blankets (electric) - Conservative Baroness Rawlings had her own "Marie Antoinette" moment in the Lords when she made a recommendation for people struggling with rising energy bills. But rather than suggesting a nice bit of cake, as the 18th Century French queen once reportedly did, the peer used a speech to promote the use of electric blankets. "They are the answer to many of the government's aims. They are very green, as they use little electricity and they reduce the need for so much heating in the home," she said.

Bullying - The Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge Julian Huppert, a man with donnish levels of detail, complained of being "bullied" in the Commons chamber. The walls of groans and shouts of "Oh, no" whenever he speaks seem to have declined since.

Image caption This is NOT a picture of Nigel Farage's preparation for his UKIP conference speech

Clowns - Veteran's veteran and Europhile cabinet minister Ken Clarke went on the attack against UKIP, calling the party a "collection of clowns". The party denied this.

Cockroaches - With friends like this... Lib Dem president Tim Farron paid tribute to his party's resilience, but not in the most appealing terms: "We are a bit like cockroaches after a nuclear war, just a bit less smelly. We are made of sterner stuff." Check behind your fridge for yellow rosettes.

Image caption The PM blamed Ed Miliband for dealing him a bad hand on the economy

Croupier - Ed Miliband's role in the Labour government was described in less than flattering terms by David Cameron, who likened him to the "croupier in the casino" when the City's excesses were at their worst.

Desolate - Conservative peer made the north east of England sound like a cross between Middle Earth and the Mojave desert, as he advocated fracking in the "desolate" and "uninhabited" parts of the region. He was later invited to see for himself. He did so, saying his comments had been "distorted".

Egg - If it's good enough for John Major and John Prescott... Ed Miliband went through the ultimate rite of passage in UK politics when he had an egg chucked at him. Unlike Prezza, the Labour leader refrained from retaliation, telling voters he was "always happy to connect", as yolk and white slipped down his face.

Image caption Life can be terribly tame, but not at the Home Office

Generation Game - What do points make? Driving bans. New Home Office minister Norman Baker explained that working in the department was a bit like trying to keep up with the conveyor belt memory game on Bruce Forsyth's Generation Game, such is the pace of events.

Goalposts - Those poor badgers. First they get blamed for spreading TB to cattle. When the government's culling programme failed to bring in the numbers of dead predicted, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson created a metaphorical phrase of some distinction: "The badgers have moved the goalposts." They were making life harder for marksmen than had been expected.

Horse meat - Nag-sagne? Shergar and chips? The tasteless jokes ran as free as Red Rum on the Southport sands when it was discovered that horse meat, considered a delicacy in some parts of the Continent, had found its way into some of the frozen food sold in the UK.

IQ - London Mayor Boris Johnson is a clever chap. Classics and all that. But he wound some folk up when he said IQ levels were "surely relevant" in trying to explain economic inequality.

Image caption Ed Balls was a delight, not a nightmare, according to his wife

Nightmare - Those sleepless, sweaty nights. According to leaked emails, one of Labour leader Ed Miliband's aides described shadow chancellor Ed Balls as a "nightmare". But wife Yvette Cooper cleared everything up when she stated for the record that he was in fact "lovely". He cooks a mean lasagne too, supposedly.

Image caption The Clegg look was all the rage in 2013 - sort of

Onesie - Comfort is in short supply in the adversarial world of the Commons. Sometimes one just needs to snuggle down and forget the criticism from all sides. Someone near Nick Clegg gets it. He revealed in January that he had been given a "big green onesie" - the suddenly de rigeur adult garment resembling a child's sleepsuit. Hasn't he been through enough?

Image caption Michelle Obama was less amused than her husband and his pals when the mobile came out

Scuffle - One man and his dog went to stand behind an interview with former Gordon Brown spin doctor Damian McBride, who was publicising his memoirs on TV. Two men and a dog then had a bit of a fight. Mr McBride's publisher, Iain Dale, tried to clear anti-nuclear protester Stuart Holmes and his pet - also called Stuart - from the scene, but they ended up rolling on the floor. Stuart (the dog) mistakenly bit his human namesake rather than the publisher. Mr Dale was given a police caution and later apologised.

Selfie - It was officially the Oxford English Dictionary's word of the year. David Cameron and Barack Obama gave it their seal of approval when they posed for a light-hearted pic with Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt, taken by her, at Nelson Mandela's memorial service.

Sluts - UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom caused a stir when he joked to a party conference fringe meeting, after being told some women present did not clean behind the fridge: "This place is full of sluts." Having previously referred to countries receiving UK aid as "Bongo Bongo Land", he and his party parted company.

Image caption Uh, uh from Marr: The Smiths guitarist rejected David Cameron's affection

Smiths (The) - U2's Bono once called Tony Blair and Gordon Brown the "John (Lennon) and Paul (McCartney) of the global development stage". Johnny Marr, lead guitarist of the 1980s Manchester band The Smiths showed no such goodwill to David Cameron when he officially prohibited from being a fan. But the PM promised to go on listening and proclaiming his love of the Morrissey-fronted outfit. There is a liking that will never go out.

Swivel-eyed loons - A nattily named 1990s band? No, the term used to describe Conservative activists by a Downing Street insider, according to press reports, which were denied.

Topless - The prime ministerial torso got a good airing on Polzeath beach in Cornwall over the summer. Ed Balls later joked about the towel covering his modesty been a little on the small side. Did Gladstone and Disraeli do the same?

Vans - The Home Office gave illegal immigrants a gentle reminder that they were not welcome. Vans were driven around parts of London telling them: "Go home or face arrest." Few called the helpline number provided.

Image caption Will late-night revellers come to see Nadhim Zahawi as the Egon Ronay of kebabs?

Zahawi - Yes, it's a cop out. Last year there was Boris Johnson's zipwire ride to conclude our rather erratic journey through the alphabet. This year, only the conveniently surnamed Nadhim Zahawi, the Conservative MP for Stratford-on-Avon, makes it in. He organised the British Kebab Awards, ensuring chicken and doner-lovers got a better deal. Rarely can a politician have done such service for country. Remember him next time you are out at 3am.

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