I suppose it is a little insensitive to refer to medics slang in the week that Robert Francis's report into the ghastly lack of basic human care and dignity at Mid-Staffs hospital is published, but in my defence I'm referring to slang used in that beacon of medical practice, the United States, and anyway, not in a medical context.
For those who don't know, medical slang is the sort of notes clinicians put on patient records to pass on information about colleagues or awkward patients. So, should you see WOMBAT (Waste of money, brains and time), TTFO (told to f*** off) or GPO (Good for parts only) on a medical file left lying around, you'll know what it means. My personal favourite is JAFFA – just another fat f****** administrator.
This slang came to mind not because of Mid-Staffs, but because of a quote from Jon Cruddas in this article on LabourList
“The quiet revolution within the party led by Iain McNicol and Arnie Graf is perhaps the most encouraging of all the Labour stories. In that it is developing local leadership and local campaigns. It is confronting centralism and bureaucracy; remote authority and alienation within the actual Party itself.”
It made me think again about the problems we are experiencing here in our little corner of the West Midlands. Our Constituency Labour Party was placed in special measures by some nameless person for some unspecified reason about three years ago. No-one from Jon Cruddas' 'remote authority' ever had the courtesy to explain to branches why they were in special measures, what it meant for them, and what they could possibly do to get out of them. The first branches knew about it was when applicants to join Labour's campaign against an uncaring coalition received a letter from said centralist bureaucracy explaining that they couldn't join the Party because the CLP was in 'special measures' – although they weren't offered an explanation either.
Over the last two years our branch – an active and lively bunch – has recruited just four new members. Two transferred from other CLPs, one who worked for the Labour Party, and another chap who somehow crawled under the barbed wire, and was therefore regarded by everyone with suspicion as a double agent of some kind.
We have raised our concerns everywhere we can. Our MP John Spellar tells us he thinks it is mad. Our CLP officers, the Leader of the local Council, the Regional Secretary, two NEC members I contacted, and Tom Watson who is forever writing to us to remind us of the need for recruitment to the struggle, all say it is madness and nothing to do with them. Meanwhile, applicants continue to give up on their attempts to join in frustration. One, a local community activist who has lived in the Ward for years, and went to school with the CLP Secretary, has been told after 14 months of trying to join, that he cannot confirm his identity (he's pictured in the newspapers twice a week) and anyway, he's not on the electoral register!!!
Whew I'm glad Jon Cruddas thinks that centralism, bureaucracy and remote authority are on the run, that's very reassuring.
*FODE – Fell on deaf ears