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political labels

Condemnation by label is a favourite tactic of political antagonism. In the belief that socialism is unpopular with the conservative British, especially after the sorry collapse of European communism, Labour party policies are dismissed by their free market opponents, without the need for argument, as ‘socialist’. In the belief that to be Tory denotes snobby, class-ridden, patrician attitudes, leftwing critics scoff at ‘Tories’, no argument needed. To evoke echoes of the political party that had no hope of success after Lloyd George split them into the wilderness, opponents of the Liberal Democrats sometimes refer to them, in spurious forgetfulness, as ‘the Liberals’. Descriptions like ‘hard left’, ‘far left’, ‘extreme left’ and ‘extreme right’ all have extra connotations, political under-meanings to damage the people they describe. In the same way, ‘Euro-phobe’ is adversely loaded in a way that ‘Euro-sceptic’ is not. To improve their reputation with the sceptic or phobic doubters, ‘Euro-enthusiasts’ became ‘Eurorealists’. In the raging years of deregulation, free-market economics, monetarism and privatisation in the 1980s, the ‘wets’ in British Conservative politics were dismissed by description. Labour dominated local councils in depressed, over-crowded, graffiti-ridden areas were run by the ‘looney left’. ‘Moderates’ are always preferred to ‘extremists’, and ‘militants’ are instantly suspectwithout anything else being known about them.