Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

British politics and assault on character

  1. Nov 20, 2005 #1
    So in America, the Republicans are big on calling people harsh names. They accuse people of being traitors, cowards, anti-american, unpatriotic, allies of terrorism, and all other sorts of things like that if that particular person doesn't agree with Republican ideology in foreign affairs.

    Recently there was this Democrat who suggested we need to immediately begin pulling troops out of Iraq. This guy was a highly decorated combat veteran, and a very respected person (apparently) within the military community, but some Republicans (none of whom, I believe, served in the military at all) began calling him names like those mentioned above; coward, traitor, ally of terrorism, that sort of stuff.

    My mom heard this and commented that she'd never heard of anything like this in British politics, even though their Parliament was notoriously more raucuss.

    But I don't buy that.

    I mean, the way the British talk, it's like "Is the Honorable Prime Minister really such an arrogant, dispicable, horrible human being as to suggest that we accept this fascist policy that would totally demean the British Public and shatter Britain's standing in the world as a whole? Does the Prime Minister really want to throw Britain to the savages and have all of our daughters become prostitutes and our sons murderers? Is that what the Honorable Prime Minister really wants?"

    At least, that's how it seems to me.

    Do British politicians accuse those who disagree with them of being things like cowards and un-patriortic and allied with terrorism?

    Just checking,
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Some do, some don't.

    The difference which strikes me rather frequently is that even on issues where different parties (and even different individuals within the same party) vehemently disgree, there is a mutual respect of the other standpoint. There are indeed occasions where one MP might have an underhand dig at another, but these are often witty and, rather than cause offence, can make good a point through sarcasm or hyperbole. These are usually taken in good humour and are almost a tradition of British politics.
  4. Nov 20, 2005 #3
    "Maggy Thatcher the milk snatcher" comes to mind.
  5. Nov 20, 2005 #4


    User Avatar

    Political personal attacks are rare in Britain for one simple reason; the British public doesn't like it. Any attempt to gain an electoral advantage by personally abusing one's opponent will inevitably backfire. M. Howard came close to the mark in comments he made about T. Blair in the last general election and it undoubtedly did his party more harm than Blair's.
    As one poster said earlier when insults are traded they are invariable witty such as when a female MP said to W. Churchill one time "Sir, if I was your wife I'd poison your tea" to which he immediately replied "Madam, if you were my wife I'd drink it"
  6. Nov 20, 2005 #5
    Hey man, at least your Presidents don't get pies thrown at them.
  7. Nov 20, 2005 #6


    User Avatar

    During the hustings in the last general election John Prescott the deputy PM had eggs thrown at him by one rather large male protester. John responded by throwing a right hook quickly followed by a couple of lefts the free for all was broken up by his police guard but when the Tory party tried to use this against his character it backfired spectacularly as polls showed ~90% of the public supported John Prescott wholeheartedly.
  8. Nov 20, 2005 #7
    :rofl: So insults are taboo but fist fights are all good, eh?
  9. Nov 20, 2005 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I'd forgotten about that, thanks for reminding me! It was bloody legendary! The farmer was a right prick, Prescott was just being northern and sticking up for himself. Good on him I say.
  10. Nov 20, 2005 #9


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Anybody remember the Taiwanese parliament and their infamous brawls? Spitting on people, throwing microphones, glasses of water, and calling each other "garbage cockroaches" is what I call politics.
  11. Nov 20, 2005 #10
    Not as cool as when people in the U.S. Congress used to carry around guns and stuff. Didn't a Congressman once shoot and kill another congressman during a debate in the 1800's?
  12. Nov 20, 2005 #11
    I think American politicians should be more like British ones. Witty reposte is much preferable to beligerant barrages of epithets.
    Oh and I love the way that brits interrogate their politicians. I once saw Blair practically roasted on TV, it was great!
  13. Nov 21, 2005 #12
    That's why I thought maybe British politicans weren't so immune from attacking people's character. I mean, you see people talking to Tony Blair and they're like "You have DESTROYED Great Britain, I hope you and George Bush both die!"
  14. Nov 21, 2005 #13


    User Avatar

    Even when the press attack politicians it is their policies they attack not the man / woman. They never resort to the sort of ad-hominem attacks you see in congress or to a lesser extent on this forum. :biggrin:
  15. Nov 21, 2005 #14
    What about with Margaret Thatcher? Weren't there all sorts of Ad Homenim attacks against her?

    I heard this story about these 2 British guys in a pub in the '80's.

    One guy is a bit drunk, and decides to speak his mind to the general public. He gets up on the bar-stool and shouts "Margaret Thatcher looks like a sheep's ass!".

    Another guy hears him and punches him right in the face.

    The first guy looks at the second with a dazed look and says, "Sorry mate, are you a Torry?"

    The second guy looks at the first with a face of disgust and says, "A Torry? God no! I'm a shepherd!"

    I thought that kinda stuff was common around the U.K.
  16. Nov 24, 2005 #15
    My favourite Churchillian story is he was taking a woman home nadshe commented "Winston, your drunk!, to which the hero replied "Indeed I am, but in the morning I will be sober, and you will still be ugly".

    On Maggie - I am too young to have a solid view but i have heard a great story about the Isreali Embassy seige. Her and her husband (no idea of name) met the SAS who had entered the embassy and shewas sat infront of one of the SAS and he said "Oi luv, duck your head down" and she turned round and said "Yes, sure!" And did! V. Cool!

    Now quoting Wikipedia and the Guardian
    "Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis paid a visit to the SAS at Regents Park barracks after the incident to thank them. "Tom", one of the SAS soldiers present, quotes Denis as saying they had partially failed: "He had a big grin on his face and said, 'You let one of the bastards live.' We failed in that respect." (Guardian interview in 2002)"

    nice story too.

    Back on topic, could one not say that there is no need for personal attacks as either the politicians are too bland or if not, the public makes the attacks themselves!! See IDS 'the quiet man', Howard 'the vampire', and Blair 'the Liar'.

    In reply to an earlier post, the poster 'Vote Blair. Get Brown' was very ineffective, as everyone wanted Brown :P!

Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: British politics and assault on character
  1. The British are coming (Replies: 10)