London, April 30 (IANS) The first full week of campaigning ahead of snap general election in Britain has ended with headlines dominated by a quirky insult hurtled by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Brexit, the state of the Natioanl Health Scheme (NHS) and Scottish devolution were never far away, but many important matters of state took second place after Eton-educated Johnson, noted for his eloquent use of English language, referred to Corbyn as a “mutton headed old mugwump”, Xinhua news agency reported.
Political commentators and linguists were searching for its proper meaning, and similar insulting or unusual terms suitable during a war of words as politicians battle it out over votes.
The Telegraph told its readers of mugwumps: “Its strict dictionary definition is: A person who remains aloof or independent, especially from party politics. But as it rhymes with chump, it can be used to mean idiot.”
Johnson used the expression in an article in Sun newspaper, saying that Britons should not be fooled by Corbyn’s “meandering and nonsensical questions”.
He wrote: “They say to themselves: he may be a mutton-headed old mugwump, but he is probably harmless.”
The Daily Mirror on Friday said fans of J.K. Rowling’s wizard character Harry Potter will recall the term “Supreme Mugwump”, one of the titles held by the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Professor Dumbledore. It was also used in one of the stories by the children’s writer Roald Dahl.
The Mirror said in its commentary: “The Foreign Secretary loves to show off his classical knowledge and known for using bizarre and archaic language.”
The Mirror offered a collection of “Boris style” expressions: A throttlebottom (an innocuously inept and futile person in public office), a cumberworld (a useless waste of space), a foozle (an old fogey or someone who is behind the times).
Johnson’s use of mugwump had the nation searching the internet for similar words.
Meanwhile back on the election trail, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Corbyn and the other party leaders, spent the week criss-crossing Britain hoping to gather support in the June 8 election.
That criss-crossing took May north of the border on Saturday to address a rally of Conservative supporters in Scotland.
Although Scottish politics is dominated by the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) led by Nicola Sturgeon, the Conservatives have been picking up support in Scotland and are now ahead of third-placed Labour.
May, who earlier this week visited Wales on the election trail, pressed her message to the people of Scotland: “If you vote for me, it will strengthen my hand in the Brexit negotiations. It will strengthen the Union, strengthen the economy, and together the UK and Scotland will flourish. Because when Scotland is flourishing, the rest of the United Kingdom is flourishing too.”
Scotland, however, voted ‘remain with EU’ by 62 to 38 in last year’s referendum, unlike the UK-wide result which showed 52-48 in support of ‘leave the EU’ bloc.
Scotland boasts Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, and May’s Conservatives may well have a mountain to climb.
In the 2015 general election, the SNP swept to power, wining 56 of the 59 Scottish seats in the House of Commons. Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats were left with just one seat each.
Five years earlier, the SNP had won just six seats, Labour gathered 41 and the Liberal Democrats 11.
The Conservatives only had one MP in Scotland, though even that was better than the 1950s when it didn’t have a single MP from Scotland.
Paul Nuttall, leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), on Saturday said he will stand for election in the British town with the highest support for Brexit.
Nuttall will contest the seat of Boston and Skegness in the election, where support for Brexit in the referendum was 75.6 per cent. Earlier this year, Nuttall was runner-up in a by-election in Stoke on Trent.
The UKIP currently has no serving MPs in the House of Commons, despite being the party that spearheaded the ‘leave’ campaign over nearly 30 years.