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Salute Peter M’s proper use of the F word

Posted on 19 February 2009 | 9:02am

Tory blogger Iain Dale, who has many
qualities, not least supporting a team that wears claret and blue, suggests I
should be hiding away in embarrassment at Peter Mandelson’s ‘tirade’ against
Starbucks boss Howard Schultz
(didn’t he do the Peanuts cartoons, or was that

The reason for my embarrassment, says Iain, is that last week I
slagged off Boris Johnson over his use of the F word in a private conversation
with Keith Vaz
, so now I and other ‘lefties’ who piled in against Boris will be
hiding away from commenting about Peter’s use of the F word. Not so, not so.
Iain, in a manner not entirely new to me in Tory circles, is slightly
misinterpreting what I said in my blog about Boris.

As you may remember, I staunchly
defended the use of the f word, the c word and the w word, and admitted to
their regular use. I cited my favourite use of the f word ever, from the mouth
of my uncle Jim, angry at the failure of a piece of farm machinery to work, who
said ‘fuck it, the fuckin’ fucker’s fucked tae fuckin’ fuckery.’

Indeed, Fiona
told me last night that someone in the Evening Standard (apparently we can read
it again now that the Mail doesn’t own it, but I think I’ll wait and see) had
counted all the f words in my diaries, The Blair Years, and there were hundreds
of them. Of course there fucking were. What kind of loser goes through a
350,000 word book just to count a few dozen f words? My issue with Boris was
not the swearing per se, but the fact that it appeared out of character, and
therefore suggested to me he was feeling the strain. 

In Peter’s case, his was a perfect and
proper use of the f word, as befits a class act on the communications front. Of
course he knew who Mr Schultz was, especially as the Starbucks’ boss had
launched into his ignorant tirade about Britain and the British economy on the
US TV channel on which Peter was due to appear. Equally he knew that the
coffeeman’s comments on the British economy were bound to detract from the
purpose of Peter’s visit, namely the promotion of the strengths and merits of
our economy before US eyes.

So the spirited counter attack on TV, followed by
the more spirited attack in private, leading to a climbdown by Starbucks, meant
he made the best of a bad job, and ten out of ten for doing so. The question he
asked of a Guardian journalist ‘who the fuck is he (Schultz?)’ was exactly how
the f word should be used. It signalled both exasperation and the sense that Mr
Schultz was not quite as expert as he thinks.

One other thing on this. The only
communications that works and cuts through these days is authenticity. I wish
we had a few more ministers able to make waves, whilst making an important
point forcibly, in the way that Peter does. It is excellent to have him back punching
his weight in these difficult times. I am now going out for a run. I tend to
end these runs at one of the several Starbucks in our area. Today, as a one-day-only punishment for Schultz and reward for Peter, I shall go to Costa Coffee.

Take that, Schultz. Go buck yourself. And don’t mess with Pedro.

  • Craig Rimmer

    If its any consolation, the Evening Standard probably just scanned in your book and asked the computer to find how many f words are in the text. By the way, did they publish a cleaned up version for the States?

  • Gabrielle L-P

    “Take that, Schultz. Go buck yourself” best comment on the whole episode I’ve read.

  • Alina Palimaru

    Alastair, thank fuck for your blog! It made my day today 🙂


  • Alina Palimaru

    Craig, I bought the book in the U.S. and am delighted to announce that all the F-words are in place! Thankfully!


  • Lin Teo

    45,000 homes repossessed last year – wow you must be very proud of your legacy – but I should wait to comment as it is going to get even worse. I suppose a spinner like you will no doubt say 45,000 new homes on the market thanks to Labour, sheesh!

  • Caroline Hett

    “When the going gets tough he lashes out. Not a good sign in a leader.” Presumably you feel this applies to Peter M as well as to Boris as neither man is an habitual user of the f word.

    I see your crikey, cripes, corker, blimey, gosh and whizzo for Boris and raise you guacamole, Robinson loan, Hinduja, Gordon’s veil, Deripaska and mysterious wealth for Mandy.