UK Politics

2011: A political year in words

Politicians always have plenty to say. Here is the pick of some of the words and phrases that rose to prominence in 2011.

Alluring Labour MP Paul Flynn told the world that a spell at Westminster makes even the "ugly, foolish and frail" more attractive. In a book for new MPs, the septuagenarian offered his advice on how to defuse "sexual magnetism". Cold baths and a glass of milk were recommended. Cheers.

Annoying Dave doesn't like Ed. But which one? Prime Minister's Questions is meant to be a stand-off between David Cameron and the leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, Ed Miliband. So why does he frequently direct his ire at the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls? He once called him "the most annoying person in modern politics." But how does he compare to the greats of the past?

Image caption Benny Hill is the PM's favourite chanteur and an inspiration for his rhetoric

Boos Is it really just four-and-a-half years since Tony Blair left British politics? How easily the Labour Party forgets. The very mention of the ex-PM's name during a speech by party leader Ed Miliband prompted cat-calling and barbs.

Calm down, dear Michael Winner has come a long way from directing Hollywood blockbusters like Death Wish to appearing in adverts for car insurance. And David Cameron decided to invoke the commercials' catchphrase, "Calm down, dear", when placating Labour's Angela Eagle. He was later accused of sexism. Look, just calm down.

Cats (I) Felines ran high this year. Home Secretary Theresa May alleged that an asylum seeker had been allowed to stay in the UK because of a relationship with his pet. Justice Secretary Ken Clarke demurred somewhat, calling the comments "childlike". Mee-ow!

Cats (II) Larry, the Downing Street mouser, was criticised for a lack of attention to detail. A large rodent scuttled behind the BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson, as he stood outside Number 10. No, he wasn't ginger.

Image caption Call us Dave: Hasslehoff met Cameron but only one managed to remain popular in Germany

Fairy Dairy Land It was the Valhalla to which Ernie, the fictional milkman in the song by the comedian Benny Hill, went after his final round. But, during one Prime Minister's Questions session, David Cameron said Fairy Dairy Land would be an appropriate home for Labour's Kelvin Hopkins - rather than his native Luton.

Flatlining The economy may - or may not - be in for a period of stagnation. But was Labour's Ed Balls guilty of performing too many mid-air, slow-motion, horizontal karate chops in his efforts to indicate that the economy is, shall we say, flat. Did it infuriate the PM further? Probably.

Foam "Gotcha" was decidedly not the Sun's headline when its uber-boss Rupert Murdoch was splatted with a foam pie by a protester during his appearance before the Commons culture, media and sport committee.

Hoff (The) Some people stay in the darkness, afraid to step into the light. But even the clerks in the Palace of Westminster made their way outside for a gawp when David Hasselhoff, star of the wet-and-watchable lifeguard show Baywatch, turned up for a visit. Another David (Cameron) posed for pics with him. Not in trunks.

Image caption Jam with everything: Were Paul Weller and his mates an inspiration to Ed Miliband?

Humble Prior to the foam incident, Rupert Murdoch came over all Mr Micawber-ish in displaying his humility and regret over the phone hacking which took place at the News of the World. It was the "humblest day of my life", he declared.

Iron Maiden Tory backbencher Mike Weatherley was thwarted in his attempts to wear a T-shirt bearing the name of his favourite heavy metal band in the Commons chamber.

Jam generation Ed Miliband used this expression to describe politicians who grew up in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Paul Weller at al were flying high in the charts with songs like Town Called Malice and Eton Rifles. Did it stick or spread? No.

Muscular liberalism Nick Clegg decided to flex his figurative pecs. The deputy PM described his brand of centre-ground politics as "muscular". But after David Cameron opted out of talks on the eurozone - to the dismay of many Lib Dems - Mr Clegg did not turn up for the subsequent Commons statement. Where was he? In the gym, apparently.

Nose Ed Miliband had an op to fix a deviated septum. It had been giving him sleepless nights.

Punchbag Does he go to the same gym as Nick Clegg? Labour's ex-Deputy PM Lord Prescott was filmed smacking the hell out of a leather punchbag for a car insurance TV ad. What was on his mind? Tories? A certain egg-throwing protester from Wales? Or did his agent negotiate a lower appearance fee for his commercials than Michael Winner's?

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBaroness Trumpington startles Lord King in debate

Sexy The political spouse has, down the ages, been a demure figure. Floral dresses - or blazers - when attending constituency fetes were the limit of their attention-seeking garb. But Sally Bercow, the wife of the Commons Speaker, is made of more flamboyant stuff. She appeared in a newspaper with nothing more than a bed-sheet to cover her modesty. Mrs Bercow also helpfully declared that more women had "hit on" her husband since he had taken up his current role.

Tears Waaahhhhh! It always gets me when a grandfather clock is valued at more than £200. OK, so the price of historical curiosities isn't top of most people's lists of emotional stimuli. But Labour's Ed Balls is a more sensitive soul. He admitted to shedding a tear whenever a punter on Antiques Roadshow brings in an heirloom that's worth a deficit-shattering pile of wonga. He waxes lachrymose too when watching the Sound of Music. It's all that beautifully ornate mahogany in the Von Trapp house that really does it.

V-sign Baroness Trumpington - a Land Girl during the Second World War - invoked the bulldog spirit of former prime minister Winston Churchill when she raised two fingers to a colleague in the House of Lords. His crime? A reference to her age. This message from the Tory baroness, who also worked at Bletchley Park, didn't need a great deal of decoding.

Werritty For a week or two, Liam Fox's Adam Werritty became the best-known best man since Prince Harry.

Zealots and zones The Conservative Party conference was conspicuous for the large number of people in the hall at all times. At least that's how it looked on TV. Some media folk were none too delighted when security staff at Manchester Central ushered them away from the cosy recesses near the exits to sit among the delegates to boost numbers.

Zombies Hordes of the living dead besieged Leicester City Council's HQ. This was after the authority admitted it had foolishly failed to plan for how to deal with the ultimate civil emergency - an invasion of zombies. But can they stay if they own a cat?

More on this story