The Labour Party in Blackpool: How to keep your cliche fresh: On the Front

IT'S the Conference Cliche Clinic. The corner where we test those conference regulars for freshness.

'Active government', as in 'Labour stands for . . .' (submitted by John Smith, Tuesday). Not a cliche. Just something Tory speechwriters will enjoy beating Smith over the head with next week. It will be a cliche in about 10 days.

'Nye Bevan once said . . .' plus cod Welsh accent (optional). This is a cliche and guaranteed turn-off, unless followed by a half-decent anecdote. For example, Barbara Castle, Tuesday. 'Nye Bevan once said to a young speaker who was having problems with a microphone at a meeting: 'If the loudspeaker failed more often I wouldn't be in the troubles I'm in now. . .'.' Incidentally, 'Churchill once said . . .' is also a cliche, and is used much more often here than is Nye Bevan.

Flat cap, as worn by Tom Sawyer, deputy general secretary of Nupe, at Tuesday night's Tribune rally. An ex-cliche. Now just charming. Like a red rose in the lapel.

'John's speech was really good.' Cliche. Untrue. Avoid using it unless, with perfect timing, you add as Tony Banks did on Tuesday night: 'It was . . . sensible shoes.'

'I have a great deal of sympathy with the man who wrote that he looked forward to the day when the last king has been strangled with the entrails of the last priest.' Banks again. Though this is obviously old, it is not a cliche.

'I vowed I wouldn't be tasteless at conference this year, but unlike Big Dave Mellor I couldn't keep it up.' On second thoughts, Banks is a cliche on legs.

'Let me be absolutely clear. . .' Everyone says this. It's because market researchers have discovered that clarity is one of the things people like in politicians.

'And all of us owe the same debt of gratitude to Glenys . . .' John Smith, Tuesday. Not a cliche, just boring Labour party sentimentalism.

The tyranny of three. On Monday Alan Johnson of the Union of Communication Workers complained: 'In conference rhetoric you can't make two points, you can't make four, you must make three.' He's right, but why must you? It's the most mind- numbing cliche of debate. 'Vote for composite 28,' the next speaker said, 'We need it, the party needs it, the whole nation needs it.' But do they need it in triplicate? 'Just two points I maybe wanted to make . . ,' Dawn Primarolo said on Tuesday, 'Or maybe more than two . . .' See? A slave to the three.

'We take on board the criticisms you have made.' Eddie Haigh of the NEC. Oh yeah?

Dark ties with subdued floral motif. (John Smith, David Blunkett, John Prescott, Larry Whitty et al). Very hackneyed. But infinitely preferable to the electric blue number with day-glo exploding spaceships that squats on Austin Mitchell's shirtfront.

The. As in 'the Conference'. Not a cliche, but a missing, presumed lost definite article. Conference is believed to save 19 minutes in the week through its omission, but revisionist elements feel that that time could be better spent.

The smiles of the staff on the British Airways stand. We've seen them all before, on aeroplanes, after they've told you off during take-off.

T-shirts that say 'Don't blame me. I voted Labour.' Smug and boring, and liable to get the wearer a punch on the nose from those who think they should read 'Blame me. I failed to get Labour elected.'

'Not all Conservatives are evil in every respect.' (Peter Kellner, addressing a meeting on inter-party talks). This is an original thought.

Next week: Those Terrible Tory Tropes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness