John Profumo: utterly contemptible little shit

… but probably not for the reason you’d think.

After being elected as an MP in 1940, Profumo voted against the Chamberlain government in the famous House of Commons debate on Norway. So angered was the government whip, David Margesson, that he wrote a letter to Profumo which included the memorable line:

I can tell you this, you utterly contemptible little shit. On every morning that you wake up for the rest of your life you will be ashamed of what you did last night.

(We’re keen followers of the intersection of swearing and politics here at arbitrary constant. Our favourite post on the topic is here, though many a selection can be found here. If you come across one you think we’d like, let us know.)


Right person, wrong subject no.9: David Gower

I have to confess: I thought the General Election was going to throw up far more contributions to this series than I’ve spotted so far (aside from the usual celebrity endorsements including, my personal favourite, Daniel Radcliffe endorsing the Liberal Democrats). Michael Caine’s thoughtful contribution was the best so far.

Nevertheless, the Telegraph reports on this from David Gower: having heard that he may once have told Andy Burnham (the current Health Secretary) to

fuck off, you little shit

Gower responded with:

[G]iven the state that the country is in after all these years of Labour rule, it is the sort of phrase I might well be tempted to say to Mr Burnham if I were ever to come across him again today

Fucking Newsnight

You could almost feel the disdain with which Jeremy Paxman made his apology for ‘swearing’ during last night’s Newsnight. For one thing, he was reading directly from a book rather than, say, offering his own analysis on a minister’s veracity. For another, does the BBC honestly think that the people who watch Newsnight can’t cope with the odd swearword every now and again?

I’m afraid I can’t resist saying it’s fucking ridiculous.

(We have more than a passing interest in swearing here at arbitrary constant. For a collection of our finest posts on this topic, feel free to have a look here and the links therein.)

He’s not the PM, he’s just a very naughty boy

All bullying should be condemned. Bulling probably goes on, in one form or another, in probably every workplace in the country. The vast majority of people in power, from your local parish council leader to you leisure centre manager, have some megalomaniac tendencies. All bears shit in the woods.

Having worked in elected government and watched ‘The Thick of It’, I know that politics fosters (as with our confrontational political and parliamentary system) quiet a bit of swearing and cock swinging. Whilst being guilty of the occasional fruity phrase or two, these were generally directed towards inanimate objects or the Lord. But I still see that swearing, anger and bullying are ultimately the products of deeper frustrations or failings. There should be and can be no “If you can’t stand the heat…” bullshit. A more cerebral and less confrontation politics would be good for politics and people. The same applies to all businesses where you get aggressive (or passive-aggressive)bullying, which is probably most. Its generally not good for morale and not good for profits. A happy workforce is a productive workforce.

I’m not shocked that this debate has fast descended into a party slanging match. I am disappointed that, yet again, neither the media nor any of the parties are using this example to reflect on our own behaviours and what they might say about the way the country/the place we work in, is run.

Politicians swearing? Surely not

Turns out, politicians swear! Who’d have thought it?

Erm, arbitrary constant would: we’ve covered the topic in some detail before (1, 2).

On a related note, this:

THE official slogan for the 2012 Olympics will be ‘London, City of Fucking Sport and Shit’, mayor Boris Johnson has confirmed. Mr Johnson insisted the foul-mouthed slogan not only encapsulated London’s status as one of the world’s great cities but emphasised that it would ‘host the fuck out of the Olympics’… Mr Johnson was joined at the launch by Beijing gold medallists Rebecca Adlington and cyclist Sir Chris Hoy who he described as ‘fast as fuck on a bike’.

He added: “Fuck me if the London Olympics are not going to be absolutely cocktastic. The city will be filled with fuckers from every corner of the globe.”

And a side order of swearing, please

We’re no strangers to swearing here at arbitrary constant, though it is my esteemed colleague Stef who generally leads the way in that department (see here).

Stef, then, will be pleased to see the latest offering from Giles Coren, a restaurant critic whose email missives have been made public on numerous occasions and which have always caused a wry fuss. Here’s a taster:

This is someone thinking “I’ll just remove this indefinite article because Coren is an illiterate cunt and i know best”. Well, you fucking don’t. This was shit, shit sub-editing for three reasons.

Coren gives his three reasons here. The senior sub-editors of the Times respond here. And there are more examples of Coren’s email outbursts here. And why not? Food is a topic many get passionate about.

(Initial story via minor 9th.)

What the fuck?

Now it is true that I have been known to overdo the use of ‘foul language’ but in the circumstances it seems only possible to paraphrase Richard Mottram:

We’re all fucked: I’m fucked, you’re fucked, the whole world’s fucked*

* Except possibly China and some of the Gulf states**

**But including the vast majority of their population, whom are fucked on a daily basis

I have been saying that I want to get a qualification in economics after I finish my current MSc but it seems like it wouldn’t be worth the paper it was written on. Whilst I’m not saying this is the fall of capitalism, it is one head-fucking paradigm shift.

The FTSE had the largest one day drop E V E R. Stockmarkets everywhere, including Russia and India having massive falls. Iceland possibly bankrupt.

Where did it all begin? Greed is probably a good place to start but we’ve always had that so that doesn’t really explain much. Nope, the complete irrational exuberance of the market and the human race seems the main culprit. Government (in all countries, of all political colours and types) and multinational corporations have taught us that stuff is good, which clearly it is, but also that we all deserve it.

There is a link between the growth of celebrity and reality TV and the recently deceased hyper-capitalist model. Celebrity and reality TV teach us what we want and that we can all deserve and can achieve it, no matter how brain dead (someone please explain Peaches Geldof). The truth is that stuff is actually scarce and as such costly, however the miracle of credit banishes that truth.

Again, we have always had credit but the magical ‘masters of the universe’ created new ways of banishing reality (you’ve got to give it to them, they must have been tripping their nuts off dealing with all those unreal numbers and financial models). Whilst not rocket science or even particularly clever (the annoying bastard Robert Peston’s book ‘Who Runs Britain?’ simply exposes that myth) these people made shit loads of money, as it turns out out of other people’s misery. But this doesn’t actually matter either, the government let them and even encouraged it. And so did we, we wanted stuff and felt we deserved it.

So as a great philosopher once said:

The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again.

Random House not keen on free speech

Do you think ‘twat’ is offensive?

Technically it is, referring to, well, you know what it refers to. But, as with most swear words, its current usage is not really related to its original use.

In response to parents who think it is offensive and so shouldn’t be in a children’s book, Random House are going to change the appearance of ‘twat’ in a Jacqueline Wilson book to ‘twit’.

I would have thought the author would be best placed to make that judgement, not the publishers. If parents are offended by the inclusion of a word in a book then they don’t need to buy or read the book. It is not for Random House to essentially censure an author.

F-ing Blair

I have been known, on very, very, very rare occasions to make use of the odd expletive. So it is with some shock I see that Alaistair Campbell’s pension/diaries have been censored to keep the image of Rich’s Dear Leader as, ahem, saintly as we all know he is.

Quite why Blair would be ‘horrified’ that his rude tounge would be exposed to the public is beyond me. What with his “yer know” and other attempts at connecting with the common man, surely the revelation that he swore like a trooper would only endear us all the more to him?

Update by Rich: Stef and politicians alike — a swearing society?