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Tuesday, 29 February, 2000, 18:34 GMT
Political soundness: Say the right thing?

When William Hague dismissed the Scottish Parliament on Monday for being "politically correct" it was a familiar conservative taunt.

Ever since the 1980s, some left wingers have been a slave to political correctness with terms such as vertically challenged (short) and spokesperson (spokesman).

But the pendulum has begun to swing the other way. Political journalist Matthew Parris has identified a new lexicon of beliefs and ideologies among some right wingers.

He termed it "politically sound". Here, E-cyclopedia presents a guide to the emerging voice of the PS.


The PS tend to be fiercely against further integration of Europe on any level, and conduct most such debates in terms of the future of the pound.

It's a "field sport", not a "blood sport"
The main slogan is "keep the pound". This was recently changed from "save the pound" because the word "save" implied it had already been lost.

Their enemies are "scrapping the pound", or "abolishing the pound".

Most references to EU legislation are made in Soviet-tinged terms such as "diktat". "Eurocrats", "Brussels bureaucrats" and "meddling" are also popular.

The PS particularly regret the passing of imperial weights and measures - which they refer to as the "customary" system.

The countryside

Another hot debate between the right and left-wing is the countryside - and, in particular, hunting.

Ken Clarke: Fighting the "excesses of the nanny state"
The PS do not use the term "blood sports", preferring "field sports", "country sports" or "country pursuits". At a push, they might opt for "pest control" or "conservation".

They are also concerned about "the rural way of life" and "rural employment".

Opponents are dismissed with one of three phrases - "sab", "townie" or "vegetarian".


Recent debates about Section 28, the ban on homosexuals in the military and the lowering of the age of consent have made homosexuality another hot topic.

Hague: PS when it comes to Europe
The PS are not particularly comfortable with homosexuality, although Michael Portillo's youthful exploits can be overlooked.

They certainly do not use the word "gay", which they are still mourning as a synonym for "merry" or "bright".


Anyone PS would not want to display too great a knowledge of drugs, in case of being mistaken for an eco-warrior or cardigan-wearing liberal.

Mattel's Jill Barad: Chairperson? Chairwoman? Chair?
Thus, any substance abuser is "on drugs". Cannabis "leads to harder drugs". People who sell drugs are "dealers" or "pushers".

Any attempt to bond with a drug user will usually involve an arch reference to "wacky baccy".

Alcohol, however, is perceived by the PS to be harmless and amusing.

And any moves against smoking are perceived as infringements of personal freedom.

Thus pro-smoking pressure group Forest recently criticised a medical report into nicotine addiction as "the nanny state gone mad and one step from prohibition".

Religion and spirituality

The PS accept there are other religions beyond the Church Of England - Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism or Hinduism, for instance.

But other faiths may be viewed with suspicion, associated with feng shui and dismissed as "pick'n'mix spirituality".

Any attempts by local councils or other authorities to accept the rituals of other religions are usually met with the lament: "We're still a Christian country!"

Followed by: "Heaven forbid we should go all American and start wishing each other Happy Holidays!"


It appears to be physically impossible for the PS to say the word "women" without it sounding like "wimmin". They prefer "ladies".

The term "Ms" is quite simply not used. All women are "Miss or Mrs" - if they demur they become "one of those feminist types".

Similarly, the PS can get in a terrible twist about "chairwoman", referring to some as "Madam chairman" and receiving the gender-neutral term "chair" with the phrase: "Oh, is she an item of furniture?"

Ethnicity and immigration

In polite conversation, the PS try to avoid the whole issue of ethnicity altogether, so fraught it is with traps and pitfalls.

Those who wade in prefer "coloured" to "black" and frequently view asylum-seekers as "bogus". Britain, when it comes to immigration issues, is a "soft touch".


"Heritage" and "tradition" are catch-all terms for anything from a previous era but threatened with extinction.

Thus attempts to abolish hereditary peers have been seen as "destroying our heritage", as have any moves against public schools and the monarchy.

And anyone who wants to update the more personal British institutions, such as marriage, parenting and child discipline, should beware of invoking that PS uber-phrase: "It goes against family values".

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