Well-crafted scorn is a joy forever

What a shame that our current options for Dear Leader of Orstraya are Beige and Beiger. We are most unlikely to be hearing anything about drover’s dogs, or mouths filled with Achilles heels, or even a statement as relatively mild as that the other party’s policies are opportunist claptrap. There will be a definite deficit of conga lines of suckholes. The best we can expect is a few desiccated coconuts, all-tip-no-icebergs and floggings with warm lettuce from our nation’s ratbag emeritus Paul Keating.

The campaign will still absorb our attention of course, but it’s not going to be very entertaining on the insults that make one gasp in appreciation front. This is not just an Australian phenomenon, it has been noted earlier this year by The Times’ Ben McIntyre, concluding that the decline of the art of public invective is a by-product of the rise of the spinmeister.

In ten years Tony Blair has not delivered a single one-line public insult worth remembering. Even the insults aimed at Mr Blair seem pallid. Thatcher’s reign left her festooned with nasty labels: Rhoda the Rhino, Attila the Hen, Virago Intacta, Petain in Petticoats and La Pasionara of Privilege. Poodle Blair just doesn’t have the same bite.
The British political insult started to die in May 1997. The age of spin required that slighting remarks be delivered sotto voce, anonymously, though the planted story and the sly aside. Politicians were just as rude as ever, but seldom to each other’s faces: this was called “civility”.

Today, to get our fix of bile, we must turn to the television diatribes of Simon Cowell or Alan Sugar, professionals churning out confected insults aimed at people who do not matter and cannot defend themselves.

I’m totally with McIntyre on the hypocrisy of the idea that simply avoiding invective amounts to civility. This misconception is often paraded in the blogosphere by prating numpties who deserve to grow unsightly warts as they lead apes in hell, the fawning, hedge-born, wheyfaced fleas (to paraphrase that master of the art, Stratford Bill).

What a waste that Glenda Jackson hanging up her thespian boots for a turn at climbing the slippery pole coincided with her losing her reputation for delivering stinging rebukes as few have done before or since. Westminster sounds far too tame these days. Thank goodness for bloggers who eschew faux civility and the subtle art of spin is all I can say. The best insult I’ve read this week came from Kyso Kisaen:

…your stunning self-absorption and barely masked loathing of the fairer sex means that you actually do deserve to be alone. So very alone. Quite honestly, if I was your right hand I’d refuse to form a fist. That’s how alone you should be.


What’s the best insult you’ve come across lately? Alternatively, what is the most entertaining invective your fertile minds can devise for the cohorts of the Beige and Beiger campaigns?

crossposted at LP

Categories: Culture, culture wars, language, Politics, Sociology

Tags: , , , ,

4 replies

  1. I knew there was something missing in my life. I feel whole now. Bring em on!

  2. I miss Backberner.

  3. Wish I had something new and original to contribute, but I find I keep returning to the famous Gladstone/Disreli exchange: “Sir, I predict that you will die either by hanging or by some vile disease.” “That would depend, sir, on whether I were to embrace your policies or your mistress.”


  1. Scorn as Art at Hoyden About Town
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