Friday, April 23, 2010

Should Clegg Apologise for "Nutters" Comment?

In the debate last night Nick Clegg just used the word "nutters" when talking about the Conservative Party's European partners. It is a use of language he may come to regret. All three party leaders have agreed with the charity Rethink not to use words or language that will increase stigma against people with mental health problems. See HERE. By using the word "nutter" Clegg has already breached this pledge.

It may be a small thing to some people - and a case of political correctness gone mad for others - and of course people say many things in the heat of the moment, but a word of regret from Mr Clegg may be in order here.


bnzss said...

Yeah, that's proper 'storm in a teacup' stuff.

Scraping the bottom of the barrel, if you like.

tory boys never grow up said...

Perhaps Mr Dale should google how many times "nutter", lunatic" and even "spastic" have been used on his own blog first?

Iain Dale said...

Number 1, I have not signed a pledge, Number 2, I have never used the word spastic and would appreciate it if you would acknowledge that.

john in cheshire said...

Yes he should. I was amazed when I heard him say that last night; it was similar to Mr Cameron using the word filth with regard to the BNP. Clegg might not be aligned with those parties with whom the Conservatives have fraternal leanings, and Mr Cameron might not have some of the beliefs that members of the BNP - for example our withdrawal from the EU, for which I am vehemently supportive; but that does not mean that it is acceptable to denigrate the supporters of those beliefs. I happen to think that the Libdems, the Greens and the UAF, Greenpeace and CND are all populated by nutters. And God save us from their pernicious intentions.

cassandra said...

The libedems pride themselves on their social conscience/heart on sleeve PC awareness, they profess to be progressive and modern and sneer at anyone who they think cannot measure upto their own over inflated sense of moral superiority.
Of course as with all puffed up holier than thou muppets like the libedems they never actually measure upto their own standards.

Making fun of people with disabilities,having a good laugh at those lower down the food chain,sneering at those less inteligent or gifted.
Political blogs are often visited by the libdem types, they seem to think that we do not see them for who and what they really are?

Anonymous said...

If this group also campaign against the film title the Nutty Professor and the parties signed up to this then perhaps you may have a point.

However, I cant see a list of terms that are prohibited and I feel that the gerneralised use of terms like 'conspiracy nut' or being used to describe willfully reckless behaviour - such as dangerous extreme sports. Other people use it describe themselves:

There are many derogatory words but I dont think that nutter is one of them.

Lossie Beachcomber said...

I don't really care if he does or not but I do wish that the Conservatives would grow a pair and fight back when these holier than thou idiots continually make these jibes.

It's common sense that in such a huge political arena such as the EU and the reality of politics in general that you will deal with people who you agree with on some things and disagree on others.

If any party was to totally rule out working with people who hold positions they find offensive then we sure as hell can never have a coalition government in the UK.

Nick Clegg and his whiter than white protest are completely baseless, he claimed for things that "were within the rules" at the time. Members of his party accepted financial payments for rental that were "within the rules" at the time. The more he spouts this sneering perfection the more he should be shot back down.

As for the other main parties and their partners in the EU, well I think a quick glance would show that they also work with groups and parties who are equally as offensive to many in the UK.

nullo said...

let's rather take it as a deserved reference to The Thick Of It, as I did.

speaking of things Clegg said, I have still to read anybody remarking on his obamanic closing statement, "It Can!"

Suzie said...

Yes - he absolutely should apologise for using the term 'nutters'. Especially since, in January 2009, Nick Clegg signed up his support to the English campaign which campaigns against the stigma of mental illness.

Bastiat1 said...

what about uphill gardener? or chocolate robber? or never going to be a candidate in his life? are they okay?

Unsworth said...

Tory boys

'Used'? By whom?

So you're some kind of nutter then? Since when did Iain call people nutters or spastics?

But as an occasional commenter I feel perfectly entitled to label you as all three.

DespairingLiberal said...

No, you're right, it's a big thing and politicians shouldn't use that language in public. Clegg should know better.

On the actual issue, the parties the Tories have allied with are not mentally ill, but some of them do have close associations via leading individuals or party policies with far-right, racist and homophobic policies. I noticed Cameron just looked gloomy at that point in the debate and, as I've often said, I suspect he himself is not in favour of the wierd fact that the Tory Party is not allied with the other three major ruling parties of Europe - all of them right of centre!

Unknown said...

Unsworth, try rereading "Tory boys" comment, or at least exercise whatever comprehension skills you possess.

"Perhaps Mr Dale should google how many times "nutter", lunatic" and even "spastic" have been used on his own blog first?"

Now where in that comment does it say that Iain used the word? Nowhere. However, a simple google search of the domain returns, for example, a comment by a certain Chuck Unsworth, and I quote:

"Press Gazette eh? Now that's real headline stuff ain't it? What next, banner headlines in the Royston Crone or the Nursing Times?

Which particular spastic 'bigwigs' are these? Does NuLab actually have any these days? I thought they were all running for cover and/or queing up to fellate Gordon."

You'll find the comment in the following thread.

Personally I'm just about fed up by politicians and their sidekicks, cronies and mouthpieces spinning, dissembling, indulging in mock outrage and hypocrisy. We have a country facing massive challenges at what we get as a solution is childish schoolyard behaviour. Great.

Patrick said...

It was also pretty poor of the BBC to use this clip at the top of the 10'oclock news last night.

tory boys never grow up said...


Happy to acknowledge you have not used the word - but it has appeared in comments on this blog 5times. If you can censor swearing you can do the same for such terms of abuse,

Anonymous said...

This is desperate stuff, even by your standards

Goodwin said...

Just a bit like Cameroon using dastardly words like "cast iron" in the context of a vote on the EU?

Twig said...

If the boot was on the other foot, Clegg and Co. would be howling for an apology.

So come on Nick, let's hear it.

Robert said...

And then there was Dave describing UKIP "UKIP is sort of a bunch of fruit cakes and loonies and closet racists mostly."

Read more:

Jimmy said...

"All three party leaders have agreed with the charity Rethink not to use words or language that will increase stigma against people with mental health problems."

So the objection is that the comparison is offensive to nutters?

Fair enough.

john in cheshire said...

As usual socialists trying to censor the use of words.

i believe that all socialists are spastic, nutters, mongs, , cripples, retards, genetic defectives, untermenschen, mongoloids. I don't see why I am not allowed to use these words. that's what I think of that aberrent stratum of humanity, and I hope our next generation also have use of these words, so they can also identify their enemies.

Hopeful said...

I did wince when I heard him say it.Alistair Campbell tweeted that it was a word Clegg shouldn't use.
I was surprised how many people mentioned it today in work- I work in the NHS. I do think Clegg admitting it was wrong would do him some good.It's not PC, it's what mental health groups campaign about. Ther are few things mental health groups can influence, careless langugae among politicians is one of them, at leastc among the leaders debates watched by millions.It's not small beer, but some good can come of it from Clegg and for the charities campaigning.I wasn't aware of the pledge, it sounds like a good idea.

Unsworth said...

@ Clive

Thanks for your elucidation and the handy reference to my earlier pearls of wisdom. I do so enjoy your comments. They seem to confirm and emphasise that there are indeed nutters, spastics etc amongst us.

However, see Tory boys latest - "Happy to acknowledge you have not used the word". That would seem to show that he/she accepts that (my) particular interpretation of his/her original post - does it not?

You don't like 'childish schoolyard behaviour'? How tragic to be so dour. Politics is very largely such behaviour - witness what goes on in Parliament virtually every day. But let us all recognise that is the game. If you seek change then you are also seeking root and branch change to society as a whole - and I might have some sympathy with that view.

But to address the latest point - irrespective of Iain's own choice of language, I'm not convinced that he should censor comments which contain such words. If we're not careful we'll be into an arena such political correctness that it is entirely stultifying. I'd just observe that the control of language and terminology has always be a weapon of the Left. Control vocabulary and you control debate - but perhaps that is the intention.

................................. said...

Does that mean we can't call Gordon Brown a psycho Cyclops?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Oh fferksake.

I am outraged by this attempt to change the way people use language.

Do you really think that 99% of the population does not, in private, use all the words that publicly they are somehow, nowadays, not supposed to use?

I know people who work in mental health and even they call their "clients" nutters. Which is what they are. This daft attempt to promulgate the Newspeak Dictionary merely assists the drive to push a wedge between public and private reality.

Even now, these political debates are a farce, a simulacrum. Nobody really talks like that, and this post just drives another nail in the coffin of truth.

And if you are thinking of voting for any of the above, don't. None of the three parties represent change, they represent stagnation and moral vacuity.

OBC News said...

Most disappointing was DC's failure to reject Clegg's accusations as both spurious and hypocritical - yet another opportunity missed by Cameron.

But Iain, this really is unbelievably trivial stuff. If that 'charity' seriously believe that the word 'nutters' is unutterable because it gives a bad name to people with mental disorders then frankly they are idiots - in the medical sense of the word.

Tim Leunig said...

There is a big difference between words like "spastic" which is an specific medical diagnosis, and words such as nutter and loony whose primary meaning does not relate to a clear medical condition.

What is offensive is to call someone who is schizophrenic, bipolar, and so on a "nutter", or a "loony", because these are treatable, medical conditions.

We can contest the accuracy of Clegg's comments on Cameron, or Cameron's earlier comments on UKIP, but neither require an apology.

Unknown said...

@Unsworth, a delight indeed to exchange comments with your good self. I am glad to see that my words have acted as a mirror held before you, allowing you to see clearly one of the multitude of "nutters" that surround us reflected therein.

Personally I'd label "Tory boys" follow-up as a classic example of back-pedaling; of someone either lacking the courage to stand by their original statement, or someone caught out trying to use weasel words to attack our host. You takes your pick.

Personally I see no problem with "nutter", it being a remarkably tame epithet. "f**kwit" has so much more feeling and intent to it, or maybe "f**ktard".

The trouble with going all prissy on language is that it doesn't hide the thoughts and intentions behind the words used, and getting worked up by the use of such a tame word as "nutter" is pretty sad. A spade is a spade, a d**khead is a d**khead and someone who engages mouth before brain is indeed a nutter.

I do draw the line at using words such as "spastic" or "mong" amongst a very short list. I've done voluntary work in the mental health sector (cue snide jibes), and those words relate to specific conditions in an extremely derogatory way. So let's tick to invective such as "brain dead d**k splash" eh?

Iain, I think I've censored sufficiently, apologies if not.

Andy JS said...

People like me who are obsessed with facts and figures are often called "anoraks". Now it's likely that many people such as myself may have a mild form of Asperger's Syndrome which is itself a mild form of autism which explains the sorts of obsessive interests that we often have. But despite this it seems that the term "anorak" is still very much acceptable. It's interesting how this is the case when other words such as "nutter" are now starting to be frowned upon. It seems like double standards, but then maybe it's because so-called "anoraks" are usually not the most attractive and popular of people (I include myself in this) and therefore do not elicit much sympathy in the way that other people do. Just a though to ponder.

Quinonostante said...

No,Nick Clegg shouldn't apologise, unless of course Mr Cameron similarly comes out and says sorry for his comments in March edition of Glamour magazine where he uses the term "loony bin"!

Neither of the comments were aimed directly at people with a diagnosis of mental illness.

This is more about the misuse of language. If Mr Clegg's comment had included language which was deemed as either racist or homophobic, the whole country would have been up in arms, and quite rightly so, laws have been passed to ensure that these groups are protected from stigmatising or discriminating language.

My 'objection' to the use of the term "nutters" is purely around equality, why shouldn't people with a mental illness be afforded a similar protection from the use of inflammatory language? After all having a mental illness is not a "lifestyle choice", and the people affected, and their Carers are regularly subjected to abusive taunts.

Dawn Willis

Grand_Inquisitor said...

I liked the image of the UKIP as being full of "swivel-eyed loonies". However UKIP does not have a monopoly on such characters. Indeed I reckon that a few of the Global Warming supporters fit the description very well. The further you get from the real science, the greater the swivel rate.

Paddy said...

That's lame, Iain. You would hate it (quite rightly) if the Lib Dems or Labour tried to make capital out of a Tory candidate in this way, but just because they want to censure free speech doesn't mean you should.

I agree that it was undignified of Clegg to refer to politicians in such a way and some may take it as offensive to people with mental health problems (although nutter can just mean an anoraky obsessive rather than someone mentally ill), but his slip was irrelevant in the debate and not worth turning into a big deal.

Far more important to look at the lies Lib Dems have told about Conservative policies and the holes in their own policies than one fairly tame derogatory comment.

Why have they all been guilt-tripped into signing this pointless pledge anyway? I may dislike Labour and the Lib Dems but I wouldn't for one second suggest that they would stigmatise the mentally ill for political gain. Nor, obviously, would the Tories. You may as well sign a pledge not to swear at voters.

neil craig said...

Perhaps I should stop calling them the LudDims here in case some dim person takes offence?


Iain if you want to turn your fire on the LDs you should fisk some of their policy motions rather than this petty name calling. LDs opposed to extending operating times of nuclear plants 2 motions on cutting the speed limit to force us all to go by bicycle

Political correctness officers to run firms

trade to be managed by cartel committed to pushing up prices


Nick Clegg on Marr Show last year saying the 2 reasons to vote LD were "fairness" & windmillery

Unknown said...

Anyone who votes for Clegg and his Heterophobic, Islamophilic Climate-Hoax Deniers must be nuts.

tory boys never grow up said...


No back pedalling whatsoever - I stand entirely by my original statement - it says what it says. Mr Dale is the publisher for all of his blog - including the comments. Just as I don't expect decent newspapers to publish obnoxious letters - I expect the same standards to apply to bloggers. Mr Dale quite rightly doesn't allow swearing and racist/homophobic comments. He should not lecture Nick Clegg on breaching the undertaking to Rethink when his own domain is guilty of the same sins.

You should also note that it is quite possible to express dispproval of many thinks without resorting to such abusive language. One thing on which I agree with Mrs Thatcher is that I know I am winning the argument when the other side resorts to such abuse.

Iain Dale said...

Tory Boys, the difference is, I never signed a pledge, unlike Clegg.

tory boys never grow up said...


Signing a pledge is irrelvant when it comes to "good" behaviour. Is the "Big Society" going to be dependent on the signing of pledges?

The Remittance Man said...

Ah Iain, you really don't understand do you.

Saint Nick* can't be pilloried for anything. With Gordon leading his merry band of loons down the path to perdition The Blessed One represents the lefties' last hope of keeping the wicked, baby eating Tories out of office.

If Cameron had dared call an opponent a nutter or even hinted he might be just a tad confused on the other hand......

*Incidentally, the real Saint Nick is the patron saint of prostitutes; something I find amusingly apt given Clegg's statements re legalising brothels and his party's selection of pornographer** Anna Span to be a candidate.
**From the Ancient Greek, "grapho" (writing about or illustrating) and "porne" (prostitutes)***.
***Okay I'll stop showing off how clever I am right now.

Martin said...

One of David Cameron's biggest supporters today said:

"Gordon was angry because he is a malevolent weirdo, unable to relate people like a normal human being, unable to interpret the emotional signals and body language that we all do instinctively. He is a bonkers, not like an eccentric old aunt, but like a dangerously paranoid political psychopath."

As clear an example you could find of questioning someone's mental health.

Do you think Cameron should distance himself from comments like that, or are you just trying to point score against Clegg?