Party Conference Choice Debate 06 – Jamie Oliver

Wednesday 4th October 2006

Conference choice debate.

Chaired by Theresa Villiers MP, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Panel:
Anna Soubry, + Gedling PPC in 2005, Conservative PPC for Broxtowe
Matthew Parris, Journalist
Boris Johnson MP, Shadow Higher Education Minister.

The debate choice was:

1. Road pricing is the future
2. Is Jamie Oliver a national hero?
3. Supermarkets have too much power.
4. We like the new look conference.

The choice made by the audience was #2: Is Jamie Oliver a national hero?

The panel was introduced and the Chair focused immediately on Boris Johnson in the light of the furore surrounding his alleged comments regarding Jamie Oliver at the conference. Johnson embraced this opportunity with gusto and declared himself to be not only in support of the motion but, in response to a muttered comment from the panel, that he is a determined member of the pie-eating liberation front. Also that the BBC had told him they were at a loss as to how his comments had been reported upside down.

Boris had pointed out that while schools are going to the often unfunded expense of ‘providing alfalfa or what have you’, as long as the children have the choice of crisps and junk food then it will be ‘difficult’ to persuade them to chose the healthy option and what is needed is a completely paternalistic approach. With not enough funding from central government, Boris simply voiced that he didn’t know how the initiative would work without parents’ support and an ‘eat what you’re given approach’.

Matthew Parris then told us he had bumped into William Hague and, as a short notice replacement, had asked him for advice on this issue. “Support the issue” was apparently Hague’s advice, “and if Boris was suggesting otherwise..”, “I wasn’t” added Boris. “But on personalities” continued Matthew Parris, ” support Boris” to loud agreement from the audience. Parris then made a serious point: In politics we want politicians to speak their minds and when they do we shoot them down in flames. Parris then recounted the press feeding frenzy over Boris and that Boris had been subjected to a circle of ‘about 200 photographers’ whilst he wrote an article.

Comments in favour or against the motion were then invited from the floor.


Sally Roberts from Hammersmith said that she had a problem with ‘food issues’ and dieting and stated that she disagred with ‘food fascism’, declaring that ‘5 & 8 yr olds will be on diets’ and ‘vilified for their body size’.

Barbera Stroud from the Poole constituency focused on the subject of water, “drinking, shower, bath, swimming,” but for how long could these be enjoyed? Global warming could cause acute shortages of water, water is for life and whilst we can make economies now, her suggestion is for the government to build underground reservoirs to collect winter water. She was interrupted by the Chair and asked to finish which the audience applauded. She ended with “We cannot live without it”. Anna Soubry agreed and added that the threat of drought was a real concern.

Derek Thomas disagreed with the motion because he said Jamie Oliver had made bad language fashionable.

Boris said that he wasn’t familiar with Jamie Oliver’s bad language and that he there was nothing bad about ‘pukka’ and that there is no bad language in Jamie Oliver’s books, which caused amusement. He agreed with the previous point about water and said that Jamie Oliver should “get kids to drink it” rather than the fizzy alternative.

James, a 20 yr old male school governor who’s school had employed the regime “for a year now” applauded Jamie Oliver, the healthy eating initiative and for “sticking his head above the parapet”

Mike Christie lamented that given a choice, the only people who ate healthy food in his school were the staff – “We need to stop serving unhealthy food to make it work”

Matthew Parris interjected that Jamie Oliver has succeeded because he’s a self-publicist and we’ve got to have self-publicists to draw attention to issues. People who are good at getting attention – Jamie Oliver does and so does Boris. (the audience warmly agreed)

Boris urged Matthew Parris to focus on the issue. “We can’t get back to a paternalist solution” he asked “but I’d like to know what you think. What is our solution?” he asked the audience, “Are we going to ban packed lunches?” Boris mooted the idea that a completely paternalistic solution might be unrealistic IF the parents aren’t behind it. There is no way a school can win if parents are irresponsible enough to put crisps into packed lunches.

Cllr Sue Littimore, a mother with an 11yr old daughter who she said was “on the verge of anorexia” and supported her view that doctors rely too much on the Body Mass Index, that by their reckoning, some athletes would be clinically obese. Jamie Oliver works, she said “because he comes across as simple” which raised a laugh from the audience, though they understood her meaning that Jamie Oliver had a good, simple message.

Anna Soubry couldn’t believe that Boris had ever read a Jamie Oliver recipe, even though he said he had cooked a Jamie Oliver dish. “I think Jamie Oliver is a star” she went on, “just like you Boris”.

“I couldn’t disagree with you less” answered Boris, to everyone’s enjoyment.

Anna Soubry also stated that her children eat healthily but that she had never packed a lunch for them, as she doesn’t believe in packing lunches. “They eat what they are told to eat”

Matthew Parris reminded us that there was no golden age of packed lunches and that he, in the fifties, had a jam sandwich and a banana every day.

Dawn Parry of Weston Super Mare argued for the motion and stated that her husband worked in an inner city school and that since a healthy eating programme had been introduced it was noticed that the children’s behaviour had changed and improved. So, she said emphatically, “Jamie Oliver IS a hero”

Cllr Anne Saunders from Winchester argued in favour of the motion. She said that she voted for this debate “not to focus on Boris Johnson’s egotism”, a statement which did not gain any support from the crowd. She disagreed with children eating “toxic food” which made behaviour “impossible” and stated that “you are what you eat” and that “Jamie Oliver is a hero, way above most politicians”

Cllr Mistry from Brent agreed that Jamie Oliver is a hero but pointed out the many fast food outlets in the high street. So, after the 200 photographers spectacle, she urged Boris to go to Brent and try to stop planning permission for fast food outlets.

Cllr Wendy Prince said “TOSH!” to the motion. “Aim this at the parents, not kids” she said, “some don’t know what a pea is in a pod”.

Anna Soubry agreed: “Yes, they don’t know how to cook because we don’t teach it in schools any more”, a point which gained applause. “Jamie Oliver inspires” she said.

Matthew Parris admitted that he can’t cook and that we were all in danger of “becoming a bit pious”. He doesn’t cook and eats bread and cheese when he’s hungry, and he’s alright.

Boris admitted when asked that he does cook but that he’s not a good cook. He agreed with the lady’s point. He went on to say that at 17stone plus.. (plus 3 stone added Anna Soubry) Not plus 3 stone said Boris. “I’m fat, I’m proud to be fat” and he thought we should all “worry less about using these words like ‘fatso'” which caused laughter from the audience.

Annabel Harriet told us that her school had embraced the initiative and had a school garden so children could grow food, cook it, as they taught cookery, and then eat it. It was a great success. “Jamie Oliver is a hero” she declared.

Matthew Parris suggested that as the Conservative Party Conference was now more open, “why not get Jamie Oliver to speak?”

Boris thought this an excellent idea. “Jamie Oliver is the messiah” he announced and he was glad this topic was chosen as the subject for discussion. Boris planted his flag firmly in the Jamie Oliver camp and salutes him. However, Boris thought that for the programme to work it needs to get “sensible, logical support” from all concerned, to which the audience loudly agreed.

The motion was declared carried: Jamie Oliver is a national hero.

The Chair added that if Jamie Oliver was a national hero then Boris Johnson was a national treasure.

Edmond Dantes & Melissa CW

43 thoughts on “Party Conference Choice Debate 06 – Jamie Oliver”

  1. I had to refer to dictionary.com on the matter, in my interpretation of hero was wrong

    Here we find :

    he‧ro  /Pronunciation Key [heer-oh]

    -noun, plural -roes; for 5 also -ros.

    1.a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

    2.a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal: He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child.

    3.the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc.

    4.Classical Mythology.

    5.hero sandwich.

    6.the bread or roll used in making a hero sandwich.

    Clearly then, applying the rules above diligently we must conclude that he is indeed a hero.

    Either as definition 3. The lead character in a play or perhaps pantomime.

    or as 5. :

    A hero sandwich.

  2. I love Boris of course but this business of wanting politicians to speak their minds is a bit of a rich pudding. As a member of the inner sect of the C`mair roon faction Boris is not allowed to speak his mind. Like most grown ups I couldn’t care less what he has to say about Jamie Oliver . I would be more interested in what he has to say about taxation but rigid discipline will be observed and I understand, to some extent, why. Hence we get a pantomime; the trivial is the only area of disagreement left to party members. Most are considerably less brave than Boris

    So what , you might say , but with a succession of similarly inconsequential and dim -witted initiatives are coming from central office I am finding it very hard to maintain interest in campaigning. This weekend its.,.” how we are going to run the NHS roughly the way Blair did but do it better” ; how thrilling . I cannot persuade intelligent people to stand in the street and make fools of themselves and I don’t want to.

    Party discipline is needed of course, but in the Blair period being a Conservative, for me, came to stand not only for a particular point of view, but for the concept of honest political principle itself. Norman Tebbit , Margaret Thatcher and many less known characters like the late Eric Forth are the heroes . Tony Benn is another who happens to honestly talk heroic not to say epic rubbish.
    I am unhappy to be a slogan repeater in an advertising campaign; it is not the reason I became involved .

    We want to win of course and we recognise the way the world is but as JACK TARGET pointed out in another context; if you become your enemy, to beat you enemy; then they, not you, have won.

  3. I watched the documentry movie ‘Supersize Me’ last night for the first time. Apparently those big cups the Yanks use for their fizzy drinks hold 48 spoons of sugar when full of Coke.

    They also showed a special school that had improved its kids behaviour by feeding them fresh wholesome food. The staff there swore that junk food made these kids crazy and badly behaved.

    All this led me to think that if eating lots of junk food does make you hyperactive and crazy, then perhaps this goes a long way towards explaining why the Americans are like they are.

    The other week I was saying kids should get used to bad canteen food at school, for when they start work. However if we’re going to end up with a whole generation being ‘americanised’ by junk food then maybe I’ll think again.

  4. Newmania is quite right. There’s lots of more important issues where Boris should be directing his wit, spleen and ideals, rather than trivia like this. Is it indeed the case that he has been nobbled by DC, the well known leader of the Kh’mer Roon? (thanks for this idea Paul!).

    I keep hearing that DC isn’t quite as limp-wristed as he tries so hard to appear, but as the weeks go on, I find it increasingly hard to suspend my disbelief any longer.

    Come on Boris, be once again the Rottweiler than you can be. More tearing out of entrails is required!

  5. The topic of this debate was voted for by the audience at the Conservative Party conference. Boris had no say in the matter. However in it he addresses the very nature of the problem and elegantly done. He highlights the need for a paternalistic approach (rather than spending money on a big brother intrusion such as ID cards?). There are a raft of problems in schools and in society which could be mostly solved by this initiative. And concerning oneself with the attitude of government as a politicain is not a bad thing. Addressing education and nutrition for children is not trivial. This addresses the building blocks for life. It is not wrong that Boris voices concern for less privilaged children, and more important that he voices solutions.

  6. Well I’m not sure how well a paternalistic ‘eat what your given’ approach would work.

    Parents might start to get ‘maternalistic’ in response, sending little Danny to school with a packed lunch box full of chocolate spread sandwiches and chocolate bars because he doesn’t eat green vegetables.

    Then what? The school gets even more paternalistic, sending home a letter banning chocolate spread sandwiches and chocolate bars from packed lunch boxes?

    Then you end up with the parents criticising the school for not providing any choice at dinner time. The school reply ‘But Boris Johnson and Jamie Oliver say little Danny has to eat his 5-a-day’. Little Danny’s mother will probably say ‘Never mind what that pompus old tory toff and his foul-mouthed friend off the tele are saying, I know what’s best for my Danny and my Danny doesn’t eat greens!’

    Anyway, it doesn’t matter if you do force them to have greens on their plates, they’ll just end up in the slops bin. Then what? Letter home to little Danny’s mother because he isn’t eating his greens?

    No wait, I’ve got it, they can amend that anti-truency law, the one that means parents can get fined and go to jail because their kids are skiving. They could introduce on-the-spot fines, sent home to the parents of course, for when Danny doesn’t eat his greens. That’ll make sure the little blighter gets his 5-a-day, and a good hiding for not eating his cabbage.

  7. Any man who begins such a debate by stating on the record his enthusiastic support of pie-eating is never going to have any trouble with the women’s vote.

  8. Let me just get this straight, please indulge me:
    1) When the conservatives do it, it is “supporting a paternalistic approach”, when labour do it, it is “promoting the nanny state”.
    2) A load of politicians spent a long time agreeing that it was good for children to eat healthy food.
    Well, slap me with spinach and call me Gladys if that is not the most convincing scenario to persuade me to abandon my position as a cynic and join the party.

  9. Jamie Oliver, a national hero? He marches at the head of A Stop Stansted Expansion demo because the planes affect his village, then Jets around the world on any pretext – probably from Stansted too.

    Does our Jamie give a hoot about the carcingous particles he showers over the kids of the world? Does he worry about squandering the world’s oil resources? Does he ‘eckers like.

    And how dare he humiliate fat people by dressing up as one. My guess is that Jamie Oliver is a secret pie eater.

  10. When I look around me I am amazed at the number of people who seem overweight. When I was a child, I seem to recall ‘old people’ (over 60s) (sometimes) being obese, but this was rarely the case with young and middle aged adults. Obesity was virtually unknown, by my recollection anyway, in children.

    Thinking back, I can’t recall being a particularly healthy eater as a child either. I seem to remember a staple diet of wheatabix (breakfast), beans on toast (lunch), and chips and meat/fish (supper) all washed down with lashings of sugary lemonade well before the advent of 7-up ‘lite’ type concoctions. Everything was cooked in dripping or butter and poly-unsaturated fats hadn’t been invented.

    Margarine was eaten by poor people who couldn’t afford butter.

    I also recall an enormous quantity of crisps, sweets and ice-cream playing a large part in the natural diet of myself and my peers. Unhealthy though modern fast food may be, I really can’t see how much worse it can be than the fare I thrived on as a child.

    I think we are looking in the wrong place. It isn’t food which is causing the problem of obesity in children, it’s NOT exercising and ‘playing outdoors’. Up to the age of about 14, I had to be virtually hit with a tranquiliser dart to get me indoors before 7:30 in the evening even when it was raining.

    The advent of play stations and 24 hour kid’s television is far more likely to be the cause of the obeastity epidemic in contemprary Britain.

    Jamie Oliver’s contribution has (perhaps) made school meals more appetising and nutritious; surely this will only make things worse!

    Not a hero I’m afraid, Headline grabbing egotist who has missed the point perhaps.

  11. VICUS witty and true .You are wrong though “I’m in favour of good” isn’t the only policy . The controversial .”I `m also against evil” policy is shortly to be unveiled.

    Spinach ?

  12. I tend to agree with Kdapt speaker to Tories. I think kids are getting fatter because they only exercise their thumbs these days too.

    I was going to suggest that some of the more enterprising amongst us could open ‘fat camps’, but after doing some research it seems the term ‘fat camp’ is not PC over the pond any more.

    I found one ‘fat camp’ website that divulges: ‘When we think of “fat camp”, we think of a place where desperate, overweight children are sent against their will. Their “punishment” for being fat comes in the form of near-starvation, forced exercise and glum surroundings. In this stereotype, fat camp is a judgmental, unfriendly and unpleasant experience.’

    According to my source in the States: ‘The “fat camp” mentality is part of a culture that demands makeovers – the faster and more extreme the better.’

    It struck me that perhaps Jamie Oliver, some parents, local councils and politicians have developed the ‘fat camp mentality’ when it comes to our school dinners.

    Simple swapping turket twizzlers for fresh chicken drumsticks and home-made chilli-con-carne seems to have become the Jamie Oliver inspired ‘fat camp’ taking place in our school kitchens. Once the little brats are eating jacket potatoes and salad instead of sausage and chips everything will be fixed; the kids will achieve a desirable weight and behave themselves.

    I imagine that this whole Jamie Oliver thing is a ‘judgmental, unfriendly and unpleasant experience’ for our school cooks, who have effectively been placed in the spotlight of their own ‘fat camp’ by this whole media charade.

    Not everyone who ate turkey twizzlers and chips for their school dinners is fat. It can only be the case that the fat ones are eating too much at home or not doing enough exercise.

    So here we go again, blame the local council, blame the dinner ladies, blame the headteacher and the governors.

    Perhaps local authorities, instead of spending extra cash on school dinners should open fat camps during the summer holidays. Only they would have to be called ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle Education Camps’ or something suitably PC.

  13. Thinking more long-term there could be a new quango to coordinate the purge of childhood obesity within our councils on a national level. We could call it:

    Local Authorities Regulators for Dietry And Recreactional Sports Education.

    or LARDARSE for short.

  14. The group: ‘Friends Against Tackling Serious Obesity’ may have something to say about that.

  15. I like fatty food and seldom resist temptation . Kdapt , I hope you didn`t miss my decimation of your anarchic musings …….?

  16. Dear Boris,

    So our champion in the struggle against biometric ID cards introduced by crazed blind Lotharios pursuing their former lovers in the courts for sperm tests has had a sudden fit of the munchies and joined the Oily Jamwagon? Where is the meal break cover? My left-wing friends have been using the expression ‘faire Camerone’ with depressing regularity, and giggles, of late. I observed that at least Wilson appeared on Morecambe and Wise, while Blair preferred Des O’Connor, but it doesn’t stop them. ‘Des O’Connor’ they giggled- ‘faire Camerone’. Either that or ‘This sticky bun’s covered in human beings the size of amoebas- here you go, Jumbo’, but that was from the most cynical and joyless of them, and I wouldn’t worry overmuch about him.

    The problem for the New, New Conservatives is even with children strapped into back-seat rocket packs begging mum for their first taste of phonix, the party will still feel guilty about the key issues of immigration, the pound and Europe- having been responsible for betraying the country on all of them, then introducing a woman as prime minister to try to hide the fact behind lipstick, hairspray and handbags. All the angry fat divorced men in England hang-gliding into the Gherkhin in superhero costumes with ex-Iraqi mini-nukes strapped to their wallets and ‘She stole my womb’ banners couldn’t conceal that, even with seven billion spent on Blunkett-passports. After all, that’s a billion less than Labour’s last culinary creation, Foot and Mouth. If the gels would join in, rather than sit around dreaming and posing for Italians and their ‘Penguin’ super-villain statues, the anti-ID crusade might have a chance. Two weeks a year spent flashing their breasts at Arabs over the Mediterranean and they consider that they’ve done their bit for the War on Terror. They’d do more, if the ID card mob asked.

    This might seem misogynist and anti-celeb anti-goss, but Euro Syndrome will get much worse before it gets better. Also, even if Eton wins in 2009 and enough late-Thatcher Tories have survived to remember how to run a government, the senior civil servants will have been in their early forties during the last one. Still, DC has to be better at the unwritten constitution than ‘We’ve started a war- we lost all the legal memos and intelligence stuff, trust me, I’m telegenic.’ I suppose there must also be an actual plan for the future of the second chamber, beyond marginal eyesight tests in front of the school canteen. What is it, please?

    The visually impressive ‘Stand aside, Ivan Mykola’ sequence isn’t from the Gogol novel, where the cowardly Ataman bends low and hides in the crowd. Would you be able to express a preference for us, Boris?

    Best wishes,

    ‘Anecdota’

  17. I am with Auntie Flo on this one-I cannot stand jamie Oliver ever since he wore that fat suit. Apart from the fact that thin people who eat junk food are equally at risk from heart disease, he seems to forget that far more young people in the UK die each year from being underweight than from being fat.
    Where was Jamie oliver at London fashion week when it refused to ban models with unhealthy BMI’s from the catwalk?
    Where is he when young womens magazines bombard teenage girls with images of underweight models and diet advice?
    Why is he not campaigning for the banning of pro-mia and pro-ana websites?

  18. k said:

    far more young people in the UK die each year from being underweight than from being fat.

    Where did you get your figures for that? Sounds dead fishy to me. Far more young people in Somalia die each year from being underweight than overweight, but I’m not really feeling that statement for the UK. Help me out with some hard numbers and a reference, please.

  19. I must confess that I hate all these celebrity chefs, Jamie Oliver included. And the lowest of the low, in my humble opinion, is the foul-mouthed Gordon Ramsey/Ramsay. And the best is the immensely flirtatious Nigella Lawson.

    I watched Jamie Oliver’s school dinner series with despair. Why the heck did it require a chef to step in to condemn school kids’ lunches? I mean, can’t our government even do that for itself?

  20. far more young people in the UK die each year from being underweight than from being fat.

    Must be all those catwalk models with a BMI of -200 and look like they’re in the advanced stages of AIDS.

    Sunday lunch with a supermodel:
    “Eat up all your greens dear.”
    “Awwww Mum! Vegetables don’t make me puke!”

  21. I have wondered before why it is women want to be so much thinner than men would prefer them. Isn’t the whole point of all this clothing, make up and adornment to become more attractive to … well me ?I have been doing academic research on the subject of the female image as presented in contemporary media since I was about 11 Many more years of study are required before I can present my final conclusions.

    JAQ as a single mother, what do you make of the Anne Atkins defence of marriage in the DT today. There are some very convincing statistics amenable to various interpretations perhaps. I wish I knew how you clever people did links.
    Kdapt – I see you have resisted the temptation to correct me on decimation.. rats !

  22. Idlex – I’m with you babes, on the issue and fancying Nigella, she’s a fox!

    Newmania – ooh going to have to check out the daily bellylaugh now. (not another pundit having a go, struth! ) I wouldn’t mind but whilst these top journo’s are in London slagging off the way other mums raise their children, they’re, well, in London! And their kids are mostly in private school, or with a nanny. But it’s absolutely wrong to pay another person to raise your children, unless they’re very expensive obviously. And stay at home mothers are the way to go but a husband is essential, even if he does spend half his time in another country and the rest of the time in London, popping home to sleep and eat after the kids have gone to bed. Of course they have sundays….. um I’m saying nothing. Newmania you’re a very naughty boy!

    I’ll email you how to do links but only one per post remember.

  23. Today is home cooking day with Jamie Oliver folks. He’ll be cooking at home, with you, on the net – so Boris, put your pinny on! Oh, parliament has started hasn’t it? No chocolate brownies for you then Boz πŸ™ Awwww. I think Jamie should have Boris on his next show and let us see the Big Boz whip up some tasty dish.

  24. Kdapt – I see you have resisted the temptation to correct me on decimation.. rats ! (newmania)

    It’s a lost cause; along with (inter alia) hopefully, sophisticated, “Between you and I…” and “different than”.

    It’s my hypothesis that bad English reflects on a person much like scruffy clothing or poor cleanliness. I equate using the term decimate incorrectly to wearing an un-ironed shirt or not washing one’s hair for a week.

    Habits to which I am, happily, unaccustomed.

  25. K DAPT-It’s my hypothesis that bad English reflects on a person much like scruffy clothing or poor cleanliness……

    Oh I don’t know , would you call a dialect scruffy ? Do you not allow that language develops? Idlex corrected Shakespeare’s spelling (with typical Idlex style) Actually the bard`s spelling was ramshackle by the standards of a modern estate agent`s press release.
    What does this tell us? I have a feeling that the modern prissiness about prescriptive grammar and spelling is unhelpful at times. I find descriptive grammar fascinating on the other hand.

    You sound like an odd sort of anarchist to me .I believe I may assume Society is not under immediate threat.

  26. It’s my hypothesis that bad English reflects on a person much like scruffy clothing or poor cleanliness. (Kdapt)

    I’m generally inclined to think that people who overly fuss about their clothes, or what car they drive, or in whose company they wish to be seen, are people who are primarily concerned with what other people think of them.

    And, since you believe that what people think is all that matters, I have no doubt that you go to very great lengths to have people think well of you. And I bet you don’t smoke either.

    I never judge anyone by their superficial appearance, or the car they drive, or who they know, or the letters after their name. Appearances can deceive, and indeed are very arguably always intended to deceive. No, I judge people by their character, by the readiness of their smile, the quickness of their wit, their openness and their honesty.

    Which is one reason why I like Boris, and his growing thatch of unruly hair. Here’s a man who is more concerned with what he himself thinks than with what other people may or may not think of him.

  27. Idlex corrected Shakespeare’s spelling (newmania)

    The ‘lief’ typo that I corrected to ‘life’?

    That was a little joke (as indeed was the entire posting). Shakespeare wrote his plays by hand, not with a typewriter, and so could not possibly have been guilty of a typo.

    And ‘lief’ is simply a rather archaic word which means ‘gladly’. The Bard knew what he was doing.

  28. You sound like an odd sort of anarchist to me .I believe I may assume Society is not under immediate threat. (newmania)

    I am not an anarchist and have never represented myself as such. I was merely drawing attention to the fact that the term anarchy is sometimes used incorrectly in the context of political thought.

    I acknowledge that all (living) languages change over time and this is, in my view, a good thing. I resent it, however, when perfectly good and useful words are hijacked for other purposes. ‘Gay’ is probably one of the most irritatin and it amuses me darkly that the latter has been hijacked again to mean ‘bad’.

    Remarkably, although I think ‘decimate’, when used improperly, is tooth-grindingly unpleasant, I also recognize that the new meaning of the word, i.e. to almost eradicate, fills important gap in English; perhaps it is this semantic hole that has caused the word to be re-interpreted into its new meaning somewhat like a tiny Pleistocene mammal exploiting a new ecological niche.

    My annoyance with these re-interpretations stems simply from the fact that, when such words are misused in this manner, they introduce ambiguity into communication. For example, now when someone states “British troops have been decimated by the onslaught of Taliban…” have ten percent of the troops bought it or has the battalion been virtually wiped out? When somebody states “XYZ Company is completely anarchic” are they suggesting that the business operates without a formal managerial structure or that it is a shambles?

    I have no objection to languages changing I simply think that these changes can significantly contribute to misunderstanding and these mutated terms should be used with care.

  29. And I bet you don’t smoke either. (idlex)

    You would be entirely wrong. I have, however, been advised to stop by my doctor and am considering doing so.

    I believe the matter you raised with regard spoken and written style is just a matter of personal taste. I like lucid, concise, unambiguous English and I enjoy it when I hear it or read it. Yours, idlex, is very good, newmania’s is (sometimes) very bad. Therefore, of the two of you, I prefer to read your comments because I rarely have to re-read your sentences to determine your position or hypothesis.

    newmania, on the other hand, often makes one work to follow his arguments.

  30. Thank you, Kdapt.

    And I hope your doctor has a very good reason for advising you to give up smoking.

    I am fortunately in perfect health myself, but nevertheless my doctor recently suggested that I go on some counselling course to give up smoking. She seemed to be under the illusion that all smokers must want to give up smoking. I declined the offer, telling her that I had no absolutely no wish to give up smoking.

  31. Count yourself lucky it’s only your GP asking Idlex.

    When I asked my father what he wanted for his birthday last month he replied ‘I want you to give up smoking.’

    Talk about emotional blackmail. We compromised that I would try to give up at some unspecified point in the future.

  32. hi . im from tehran. i dont love bomb. i love god ,peac ,development. i dont love ahmadi nejad . i love mohamad ( masenger )
    bye

  33. How much does he charge for those masenges?

    Speaking of English…

    And Steven, that is nothing. I had one cousin (of 14) who smoked. One of the last things my mother did was arrange a meeting with him, which he repeatedly tried to delay until she finally said, “if you’re not here on Thursday, I may not be here on Friday. Be there.” He arrived, and was treated to three-quarters of an hour of his favorite aunt lecturing him about smoking as she lay dying from lung cancer.

    When he came out (we were all in the hall, ready to block him if he tried to flee) the first thing he said was, “I need a cigarette.” But he doesn’t actually smoke anymore.

  34. Yes. Emotional blackmail indeed.

    But it reminds me that, after some 40 years of smoking I’ve yet to hear of any of my smoking friends dying of lung cancer.

    The only two people I have known who died of lung cancer were, strange to say, both non-smokers.

    We can all tell anecdotes, raincoaster.

  35. idlex, sweetheart, if you’d prefer I kept my remarks to myself, I’m perfectly willing to do so.

    raincoaster sweetheart, I’m always willing to read your remarks, and have no wish for you to stop posting them. I merely ask to be permitted to disagree.

  36. I was realy surprised by reading what you have said about Iran. I do not know how much you know about Middle East and the Iranian Mullahs. I hope you have closer look at the things that matter for this region.

  37. Off Topic:

    Happy Birthday to me πŸ™‚

    Raincoaster there’s even a picture on my blog today, after long last. Considering the last year and that only Peter Hitchens hates me, that’s regrettable and sad, but Guido would probably say: ‘only one? MUST try harder’. Hope y’all have a good year folks.

    Boris for PM!

  38. One picture of YOU, or one picture of Boris, or is that one picture of the two of you? Work with me here; I’m easily confused today.

    Happy belated birthday!

Comments are closed.