Friday 5 February 2010


The Miliband brothers seem to get disproportionate coverage on this blog. Here's an article from Ed:

There is a big fight on for Britain's future. The tide isn't running out on progressive ideas. People don't live in the politics of an electoral pendulum, they live in changed times where progressive values are more, not less, powerful. If we go out and make the case, we should be confident we can succeed.

The word progressive is one of my pet hates*. Everybody is progressive, we differ only on definitions of the word. Every so often I hear a politician say that he wants what's best for Britain, but they never follow this up with free whiskey for all or the humane destruction of the Cornish. It's always healthcare or further education and other ideas that wouldn't make my top forty.
Every policy progresses somewhere. Theocracy, communism, genocide and compulsory nudity might all be progress in somebody's estimation, though I support only two of them. Mr Miliband is right, though trite, that the "tide" can never "run out" on progressive ideas (which I suppose form the beach in which the unpendulous case-makers are fighting). Progress can never stop, but to what strange utopias it may lead, nobody knows.
There are three exceptions to this rule. First, progressive and regressive taxation have both become technical economic terms. The former means taking from the rich and giving to the poor, the latter the reverse.

Second, progressive tenses, of which I shall blog some other time.
The third is a progressive disease: the stately progress of dementia, gangrene, cancer and the like. I had a friend who went for a test for a very serious disease. He was a trifle nervous so the nurse reassured him that it would "all be positive".
David Miliband searching for a pendulum
* I love the idea of a pet hate. I dream of a menagerie of malevolences and I would feed them and stroke them and take them for walks and they would be the happiest hatreds in the whole wide world. They'd wake me up every morning by licking my face with their vindictive tongues.


  1. I think the Guardian is using the word in sense B.1.a from the OED: "A person holding progressive, avant-garde, or liberal views; an advocate or supporter of social, religious, or political progress or reform, or of change within or to a particular political system; a member or supporter of a Progressive Party". Not everyone is a progressive.

  2. I'd like to see a list of your pet hates to see if they correspond with my list of pet hates. We could then "rationalise" them, merge the duplications and thus make savings on the fuelling/stoking/engorging process.

  3. Dogberry - I am guessing that you support theocracy and compulsory nudity, since you have never shown the remotest inclination towards communism or genocide. But do clarify if this is not the case.