The top 10: ‘People’s’ things

John Rentoul

This was Ian Reeve’s idea, prompted by the Communist Party of Britain calling for a “People’s Boycott” of the European elections. The CPB is the party (membership 734) that broke away from the CPGB in 1988, taking the Morning Star with it. It didn’t put up candidates in 2017 and supported the Labour Party because it was led by Jeremy Corbyn. Now it says we shouldn’t vote on Thursday because we should have left the EU. Here are 10 more.

1. People’s Party. Affectionate term for the Labour Party.

2. People’s Princess. Respectful description of Diana, Princess of Wales, crafted by Alastair Campbell; delivered by Tony Blair when she died in 1997.

3. People’s Republic. The usual reference is to China, although there is also the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. In the past there have been people’s republics from Albania to Ukraine (full list here). What they have or had in common is the absence of democracy.

4. People’s Vote. Not quite as euphemistic, but still a notable propaganda term for a second referendum intended to reverse the result of the first. Now known as a confirmatory ballot, as if the idea is to confirm the terms of our departure from the EU when it is the opposite. Nominated by Jonathan Isaby. I loyally prefer The Independent’s “Final Say” referendum.

5. People’s March for Jobs. There were two of them, in 1981 and 1983. Unsuccessful attempts to evoke the power of the Jarrow March, 1936; itself in a long tradition stretching from the Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536, to the Brexit Betrayal March of 2019. Another from Ian Reeve.

6. The People’s Pope. The current head of the Roman Catholic church, Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio), was given the name by Time magazine when he was named Person of the Year in 2013. Nominated by Chris Barraclough.

7. The People’s Chancellor. Title accorded to John McDonnell. Irritated Graham Kirby, “especially as Labour had just lost an election – unlike many bad things, it seems to have stopped”.

8. The People’s Car. Better known as the Volkswagen, a remarkable survivor from Nazi-era Germany, thanks to Ivan Hirst, British military governor who oversaw the factory at Wolfsburg after 1945. Nominated by Paul Fishwick.

9. The People’s Club. David Moyes described Everton FC thus, apparently. Paul Fishwick again.

10. People’s Health Service. In 2008, when the Liberal Democrats were demanding a referendum on EU membership, Nick Clegg was also championing a “People’s Health Service”. Another from Jonathan Isaby.

Honourable mentions for the People’s Palace, originally built in east London in 1887, rebuilt in 1936 and now part of Queen Mary University of London (there are several others around the world); and for the people carrier, “an outsized car – as opposed to a car that carries, erm…,” said Andrew Graystone.

Next week: Songs about rain by Scottish bands, such as “Raintown”, by Deacon Blue.

Coming soon: Political walkouts, after Tom Watson’s abrupt exit from the shadow cabinet this month because it wasn’t going to be shown a draft European manifesto.

Your suggestions please, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or by email to