Who's the sleaziest one of all?

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The Independent Online
Sir Gordon Downey may still be sifting through all the sleaze- soiled evidence in his trays, but Collins Dictionaries have already completed their own analysis, and it shows that sleaze - originally cheap cloth from Silesia - has been bought up wholesale by the world of politics. Thanks to the 323 million words that have built up since 1988 to form the Collins Bank of English, we can now list the 25 people, institutions and concepts that have been most frequently in contact with the growing tide of sleaze. And the only entries with no political affiliations are football, sex and the Queen.

The items in the databank include both formal and informal texts, broadcast, published or spoken predominantly in the last two or three years. The words in the table have appeared most frequently either immediately next to the word "sleaze" or separated from it only by an insignificant word such as "the" or "and".

The word most frequently linked to "sleaze" is "allegations". In view of the libel laws, this is hardly surprising, but it is worth noting that if "Tories" (10th place) had been added to "Tory" (in second), they would almost certainly have overtaken it - though it would have been a close- run contest between "Tory" plus "Tories", compared with "allegations" plus "accusations".

"Downey" himself must now be making a late run from behind, but has failed to make the top 25 and clearly has a good deal of work to do if he is to catch "Nolan" in third place. While the Prime Minister can feel happy to have distanced himself sufficiently from the leaders, he still squeezes into the list in last place, well below greed, corruption, sex and incompetence.

The Opposition, however, can hardly be complacent: "Labour" nestles just below "political" and "party" in eighth place.

Most interestingly, "sleaze" itself is in 15th place. Even sleaze is now tainted with sleaze. Sleaze, sleaze and more sleaze ... And how many credits does that score in the sleaze proximity bank?

The 25 sleaziest words:

1. Allegations

2. Tory

3. Nolan

4. Scandal

5. Government

6. Political

7. Party

8. Labour

9. Inquiry

10. Tories

11. Factor

12. Row

13. Greed

14. Corruption

15. Sleaze

16. Scandals

17. Public

18. Incompetence

19. Accusations

20. Sex

21. Queen

22. Politics

23. Commons

24. Football

25. Major