Friday, 4 March 2011


Cllr Warren Swaine has what is below to say about Cllr Ruhemann's remarks.

Pete Ruhemann is suddenly a sensitive soul.

It is a fact that he used the word "Quisling" personally against the Lib Dem group leader pointing his finger whilst he said it. All pretty unambiguous you would have thought. Except he seems to be wriggling like a worm on a hook. His defence seems to be "but sir, he called us names first".

His Master's Voice has picked this up in their usual fashion but I cannot be bothered to link to it or quote it, it's hardly journalism, after all.  "Quisling" is usually I think used to mean a traitor and/or collaborator with the enemy, the latter probably being what Cllr Ruhemann meant.  Leaving aside the notion that if the LibDems get into government they are somehow collaborating with an enemy, rather than going into government because enough people voted for them to make it possible for them to do so, it seems good to shed some light on these expressions which are often bandied about in politics, too often by people who do not know what they are talking about.

Vidkun Quisling was the chief minister of the government of Norway from 1942 to 1945, appointed by the German authorities.  As such you could say that he was a collaborator with the enemy, and certainly he was tried after the war for high treason and executed by firing squad.  But Norway's sympathies at that time were variable, there was no concerted resistance, and British troops parachuting in behind the lines were killed by Norwegians.  And the leaders of governments in other occupied countries were not executed for treason.  So it is not that simple.  The use of "quisling" to mean "traitor" comes from an editorial in a UK newspaper around that time "Quislings everywhere".  These days many people think "quisling" means "hypocrite or two-faced person", as the comments on the HMV piece show, and it is possible that Cllr Ruhemann meant it that way too.  But the Ruhpeople should get their use of epithets straight.  First we had Lovelock with "beyond the pale", using an apartheid idiom to attack a supposedly racist remark.  Now Ruhemann using an idiom from the Second World War Nazi occupation of Norway to attack a LibDem councillor for going into coalition.  Imagine their breakfast table.  Over the Cheerios and toast: "What next, Pete?  You use Holocaust imagery when you have a go at Cllr Willis' traffic light policy, and I'll talk about the killing fields of Whitley when I criticise coalition policy on the Excellence Cluster."  "Splendid idea, Jo. Then we'll go round and draw Hitler moustaches on all the pictures of the front bench councillors."



Anonymous said...

"Beyond the Pale" is centuries older than apartheid. Means "beyond the fence" - particularly the one built across 14th Cenury Ireland. Pale,as in palus (stake). Now remains as "paling" or trimmed pole in a fence. (eg fence of chestnut palings)


Never underestimate the puerility of people in politics.

Anonymous said...

And there was me thinking we'd voted them in to help us poor sods! Ah! how naive we were...where is the calling in power? Heard that Clegg is now getting cold feet on this one. Should apply to COuncillors as well.

Jane Griffiths said...

the recall is a recipe for mob justice and lynchings

Anonymous said...

Anon 16:24.Cleggie has every reason to get cold feet. Jane's understanding of the recall would be used widely right now on his party!. Although personally I believe it has its place. A good debate to have.

Anonymous said...

Jane. the described scene brings images with it. One's imagination can only try so hard. You are cruel.