BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 December 2005, 12:47 GMT
2005: a year in words
By Justin Parkinson
BBC News website political reporter

David Cameron
Mr Cameron brought consensus and cycling to Westminster
The year 2005 saw some big changes and gave rise to cruel, careless and downright cheesy words. The BBC News website takes a look at some.

A-list, The - "If you ain't on, you ain't gettin' in," the Conservative Party has begun telling prospective candidates for safe seats. At least half of the 140 A-listers will have to be women but it is definitely not - repeat not - the Tory equivalent of an all-women shortlist.

Asboid - Latest bogey-figure for MPs trying to sound tough on crime. First used in the Commons this year by Labour's Sion Simon about a young hooligan who had been served with an Anti-Social Behaviour Order, or Asbo (see Hoodie).

Big Beast (end of) - Ken Clarke - the last of the Tory lords of the 1980s and 1990s jungle - roared into the leadership contest with hopes high, but came last in the first MPs' ballot.

Compassion - New Tory leader David Cameron is promising Conservatism with a human face as the party seeks to rebrand itself. Group hugs all round?

Aretha Franklin
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: at least Aretha Franklin knew what it meant

Consensus - The end of "yah-boo" politics heralded by the arrival of Mr Cameron - or his cunning attempt to split Tony Blair from his own party by loudly supporting the prime minister's education reforms. (See Punch and Judy politics).

Cycling - Mr Cameron's preferred mode of transport, at least on the days that MPs' and Tory members' votes for the party's leadership contest were announced.

Dog whistling - Supposedly sinister practice imported from Australia by Conservative spin chief Lynton Crosby. It means sending coded messages that only certain people will hear. Usually on immigration. Very election 2005.

Extraordinary rendition - No, Cherie Blair hasn't been singing "When I'm 64" to a group of bemused Chinese again. It means the practice of transporting terror suspects in secret.

Hard-working families - This is the group most politicians claimed to represent. There were fewer tax and law and order promises for "divorced idlers" and "feckless singletons".

Hoodie - A menacing youth wearing a hooded top - the better to avoid being identified by CCTV. Inevitably destined to be on the receiving end of an Asbo (see Asboid).

Will even popinjays drink sensibly with more relaxed opening hours?

Legacy - A favourite of commentators attempting to give meaning/a label to the Blair years (see retirement).

Mummy issues - Public services, education and the like, as described by Theresa May, now the shadow Commons leader. The time for "daddy issues", such as the economy and defence, is over, she warned those dyed-in-the-wool male types.

Non - The French and the Dutch delighted many a Eurosceptic when they gave a thumbs down to the European Constitution. But as Britain enters a period of more subtle, sophisticated politics, it is wise to remember that the Dutch word for "no" isn't "non"

Pants - Tory rivals David Davis and David Cameron clashed over their choice of undergarments on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour. Mr Cameron opted for the more modern boxer shorts, while Mr Davis - in need of extra support at the time - plumped for briefs.

Period -Mr Blair used this Americanism to demonstrate that the UK's European rebate was not up for negotiation, ever ("period"). With hindsight, maybe he should have said "for a period" - of about six months, it transpired.

Popinjay - When George Galloway called commentator Christopher Hitchens a "drink-sodden former Trotskyist popinjay", hacks everywhere reached for their dictionaries. Popinjay = old word for parrot, or one who is vain. Who's a pretty boy, then?

Ken Clarke and King Kong
Bad year for big beasts: Ken Clarke and King Kong

Punch and Judy politics - Politicians loudly disagreeing with each other for the sake of it. To demonstrate he is above this sort of thing, David Cameron began his first prime minister's questions by accusing Labour's chief whip Hilary Armstrong of "screaming like a child". To loud baying from the benches behind him (see Consensus).

Respect - R-E-S-P-E-C-T: to Mr Blair it meant cutting petty crime. To Mr Galloway, who liked the word so much he named his party after it, it meant unseating Labour's Oona King in Bethnal Green and Bow, east London, in May's election.

Roadblock to reform - An insult thrown in Chancellor Gordon Brown's direction several times by David Cameron - expect to hear it much more in 2006.

Responsible drinking - Labour's hope that drinkers in England will adopt Continental-style social habits when able to drink (in some cases) into the wee small hours. For opponents of the plans the term is an oxymoron (try saying that when drunk).

Retirement - The date of Mr Blair's departure remains uncertain, as he attempts to secure his legacy (see earlier). Meanwhile, the rest of us wonder if we'll ever leave the rat race, with pensions expert Lord Turner proposing an eventual signing off age of 68.

Thirsting and thrusting (for power) - Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy, under fire over his "laid back" leadership style, promised to return in 2006 with a more vigorous style. He even promised to use a skean-dhu - a Scottish dagger - on his detractors.

Veritas - Latin for "truth". Robert Kilroy Silk, annoyed at not becoming leader of the UK Independence Party, decided to set up his own Eurosceptic alternative. But he failed to win a seat. And quit.

Zac - Environmentalist Zac Goldsmith won a place on the Tory preferred candidates' list. An old Etonian like Mr Cameron, and the inheritor of an estimated 300m fortune, could he be the ideal Conservative for the new year: green without envy?

Tory candidates disagree on pants
09 Nov 05 |  UK Politics
Election 2005 at-a-glance
11 May 05 |  Election 2005
Who are 'Britain's hardworking families'?
19 Apr 05 |  Election 2005
Explosive showdown in Senate
17 May 05 |  UK Politics

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific