Hors de Combat



It is common knowledge that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a great admirer of Winston Churchill. He has written a biography of the wartime leader, and it is reputed that his relentless drive to become leader of the Conservative Party, and thus PM, has grown out of a desire to emulate the great man.

Watching his daily press briefings during the current health crisis, I cannot help wondering whether, somewhere in his secret heart, Boris is relishing having a situation to manage which has been described as ‘the most serious since World War II.’

These thoughts were further stimulated by hearing his choice of metaphor in a recent broadcast: according to our national leader at Westminster, we are ‘at war’ with the virus.

Unfortunately, Boris’ rhetorical style does not match up to that of his erstwhile hero. Instead of a clear and measured delivery, our PM provides for us, through often spluttering verbal episodes, messages which can be convoluted, at times even self-contradictory. A notable example of this was his exhortation to the vulnerable to stay at home, but to feel free to go out and enjoy themselves.

Without wishing to be party political, I cannot help but compare his performances with those of the First Minister of Scotland, who has been, so far, a model of honesty, transparency and lucidity in her messages to the public.

As someone self-isolating on grounds of age and health, and therefore not currently participating in any battles, I much prefer her straightforward clarity to his attempt to draw a somewhat inappropriate historical parallel.


7 thoughts on “Hors de Combat”

  1. errr…
    “our national leader at Westminster” ???
    Our Nation is Scotland.
    Our National Leader is Nichola Sturgeon
    The rest of the texts does not seem to read as if you were referring to
    Scotlands political leader at Westminster Union Jack the tory Estate Owner.
    Perhaps you would resolve this apparent error in the choice of words?


  2. As a closet pedant myself, I am happy to notice that my piece has been closely read and made subject to critique. However, one of the downsides of pedantry is its frequent failure to note irony when it is present. I did try to differentiate between the titles I gave to Boris and Nicola, and to use (ironically) the title for Boris most frequently applied by UK mass media. . . regretfully, however we see ourselves, however we may rail against it and wish that were not so.


  3. I Thankyou for for your well thought out reply, an indeed acknowledge the widely experienced and longstanding issues with appreciation of irony ( and sarcasm) on the (written) internet. πŸ˜‰

    Valiant attempts to prevail upon the internet standards authorities to bless html tag pairs </irony and have inexplicably fallen upon deaf ears, despite their manifest necessity.

    Curiously the pedants of Wikipedia, despite unrestrained verbosity fail to adequately address this crucial conundrum:

    And the suggestion of “Scare Quotes”

    clearly would offend any auteur of delicate sensibility!

    Might I suggest the somewhat unusual use of (single) quotation marks when _repeating_ a word or phrase if one intends to convey ones inherent dissaffection with it?

    That compromise seems to work very well for ‘Welsh Scion’ on WGD.

    Radical, I know! πŸ˜‰

    p.s. all above meant in fun. More power to you quill sir!

    yours lightheartedly,


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