Let’s see: dicere, subjunctive, third person singular. Hmmm … seems right. Maledicere: “to speak ill of”, “to curse”, “to rail against”. OK: let’s go with it.
At its best, Latin has some fine curse words: futete! (yes, you got that one, no problem.). Irrumator! (look it up!). Sterculus! (what comes out of cows backwards is not the Isle of Wight ferry: it is stercus. We made it a diminutive — so, “you little ….”).
Such is the dubious benefit of what remains from an expensive classical education.
Which brings us to the Mayor of London’s question time, and an exchange with Andrew Dinsmore. Sadly we do not have the verbatim transcript, so we have to rely on third-party accounts:
Boris Johnson today told an Assembly Member to “get stuffed” after he accused the mayor of lying about the impact of cuts to the fire service.
In an increasingly bitter exchange during Mayor’s Question Time, Boris lost his temper in a bitter debate with Andrew Dismore.
The mayor of London is pushing ahead with plans to close 10 fire stations and axe over 500 jobs in London’s fire service.
“How can cutting fire stations, cutting fire engines, cutting fire fighters posts not be a reduction in fire cover?” Dismore angrily demanded.
A visibly annoyed Boris glowered over the table and insisted he was in fact improving services.
“Because we’re improving cover – As I’ve said several times,” he retorted, as members of the crowd groaned and called out “how?”
Interrupting the mayor, Dismore said he had “lied to the people of London.”
“Oh get stuffed,” the Mayor grumpily muttered …
Is this much different to the contempt that David Cameron shows to the House of Commons, whenever he deigns to turn up for PMQs?
Edward Miliband: Once again we see from the Prime Minister, as we did from the Chancellor, total complacency. We are in the midst of the slowest recovery in 100 years. Let us talk about the Prime Minister’s record. Can he tell us in how many of the 39 months that he has been Prime Minister have prices been rising faster than wages and living standards falling?
The Prime Minister: I said we face a challenge to help people with living standards, but because this Government have taken 2 million people out of tax and have cut income tax for 25 million working people, household disposable income went up last year—that is what is happening. As I said right at the beginning, we have to build on this; we have got to keep going with dealing with the deficit and helping business to employ people.
The right hon. Gentleman talks about policy. Let me just remind him what the former Chancellor said:
“I’m waiting to hear what we’ve got to say on the economy”.
That is the verdict of the former Chancellor. I have to say that we are all waiting to hear a single, constructive suggestion from the Labour party.
Edward Miliband: The whole House and the country will have heard the Prime Minister unable to answer the question about what is happening to living standards. Let me give him the answer: for 38 out of the 39 months he has been Prime Minister, living standards for working people have gone down, not up. Will he confirm that the only month when wages rose faster than prices was when he handed out the millionaires’ tax cut and City bonuses went up—
The Prime Minister rose—
Edward Miliband: Calm down; hang on a second. And when City bonuses went up 82%?
The Prime Minister: His speeches are so poor, as we saw yesterday, that it is difficult to know when he is finished .[Interruption.]
There was a valid question in there, perhaps even two:
- What is this government doing about ever-declining living standards? The UK is the fourth-worst among the EU nations. Greece (Greece!) is naturally the worst.
- Why does a small group of privileged city slickers — just the types who funded Cameron in his leadership campaign, and then again flooded cash into the Tory General Election coffers — prosper, while the rest of us grind along?
Cameron, of course, reached for the personal insult as an alternative to addressing a serious issue. Serious, that is, for the 99.99% of the [population who did not have Cameron’s and Johnson’s Etonian education.
Both got away with contempt for their questioner, and therefore contempt for the general underprivileged public.
It didn’t receive the publicity it deserved, but the best question at PMQs came here, leaving the PM thoroughly irrumated and stuffed:
Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): The parents of the 1 million young unemployed people will think the Prime Minister is totally out of touch. This year, the number of young people with jobs has dropped by 77,000, and the Government’s Youth Contract has reached fewer than one tenth of the young people it was supposed to help. Does the Prime Minister not understand that not everybody lands their first job with help from a royal equerry?
Of course, in that wonderful Old Etonian parallel world, everything is going swimmingly. All criticism is mere carping.