07 July 2008


Hazel Blears, the improbably titled Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, made an exciting announcement last week about government plans to enable local authorities to tackle something called "Migrancy". It marks a return to the Good Old Days of New Labour: creating a new word to control the terms of political debate.

After all, if you were to talk about "tackling the challenge of migrants", you'd be embroiled in a political knicker-twist quicker than you can say 'Trevor Phillips'. But by saying "migrancy", you take away the agent - it's not saying the Polish builder is the issue, just the act of him coming here that is a problem. I mean challenge.

Unwittingly it gets closer to the truth than intended - Hazel loves those Czech plasterers for keeping labour costs down, if only they wouldn't insist on speaking funny and making the place look untidy. "Migrancy", then, is a new word that successfully combines two existing words: "Migraine" and "Vagrancy", planting a negative connotation in the mind without you realising. Peter Mandelson would be proud, were he not trying to concoct a few neologisms of his own to describe President Sarkozy.


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