Alistair Beaton's "Parlez-Vous Politics?"
A phrase book for Electionland, with handy translations to help you understand what on earth they’re talking about.
We have no plans
A popular phrase, heard almost every day, e.g. ‘We have no plans to increase VAT.’ Translation: ‘We’re going to increase VAT.’ Sometimes this will be heard with the word ‘absolutely’, as in ‘we have absolutely no plans to increase VAT’. Translation: ‘We are definitely going to increase VAT.’ May also be heard in the context of possible post-election scenarios: ‘We have no plans to go into coalition with any other party.’ Translation: ‘We’d shack up with a bunch of rabid left-wing/right-wing meatheads if it got us through the door of Number 10.’
With all due respectTranslation: I hate you
Let me make this crystal clear
Let me repeatedly avoid answering the question. Sometimes takes the form of 'let me be absolutely clear.'
What I want to say is this
I’m going to answer, but not the question I’ve been asked.
It’s the right thing to do
It’s the wrong thing to do, but we’re going to do it anyway. In some contexts, can also mean ‘we haven’t a clue why we’re proposing this, but we want you to feel we have a conscience.’
Almost everyone except beggars, scroungers, spongers and people who look a bit foreign.
Long term economic plan
Making things up as we go along.
Taking tough decisions
Breaking promises. Can also mean cutting benefits to the disabled.
We will balance the books
We might balance the books but it’s highly unlikely.
There are no easy answers
There are easy answers but they all involve putting up taxes and we’re scared to tell people that.
We’ll crack down on tax avoidance
We’ll ask Starbucks to give us a couple of hundred quid.
Supporting small businesses
Supporting large businesses.
A Northern powerhouse
Refurbishing a former department store in Manchester and calling it ‘a business incubator’.
A business incubator
A former department store in Manchester, now filled with hipsters drinking flat whites.
It’s part of an overall package
It won’t make a blind bit of difference.
It’s the right thing to doTranslation: It’s the wrong thing to do
With all due respect
I hate you.
An absolute guarantee (may expire without warning).
We are the party that are committed to protecting the NHS
Let’s face it, it’ll soon be known as Virgin Health Care and anyhow everyone I know goes private.
We’re rolling this out across the country
The whole thing’s years behind schedule.
Getting more people on to the housing ladder
Pushing up property prices.
We’ve had it fully costed
We haven’t a clue how we’ll pay for it so stop asking stupid questions.
Those with the broadest shoulders
Making work pay
Sanctioning the jobless for arriving five minutes late for an interview.
There is no instant solution
God, that was a bloody difficult question. Why on earth did I agree to come on this programme?
Of course I’m committed to a greener environment, but to combat climate change we need a wide range of energy options, and for the time being that includes oil, gas, and nuclear
My constituents don’t like wind turbines. And anyway, I’m much too busy to worry about the destruction of the planet.
We’re campaigning to win an overall majority
God only knows what will happen after 7 May but whatever it is, it won’t involve an overall majority.
Alistair Beaton is a satirist, playwright, radio presenter, novelist and television writer whose credits include Not the Nine O’Clock News, Spitting Image, Feelgood and The Trial of Tony Blair.