The first thing I read online every Sunday is Andrew Rawnsley’s column for the Observer, which is the Guardian’s Sunday paper. Rawnsley is one of the most insightful political pundits in the English-speaking world and his prose style is clear and elegant; a rare combination. As y’all know, British politics is one of my odder hobbies and Rawnsley is DA MAN. He wrote the definitive accounts of the last Labour government and coined the phrase the TBGBs to describe the agita between the ultimate frenemies, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Holy heebie jeebies, Batman.
This post, however, is not about my hobby. It’s about a new rule of politics propounded by Rawnsley in a column about the UK’s EU referendum:
So I propose a new rule for assessing which side is struggling in a political contest. If you’re whingeing, you’re losing. Let’s apply the rule to the early engagements of the referendum campaign. Who is on the front foot? Who is in a defensive crouch? Which team sounds confident about its case? Which gang is expending most of its breath whining about how the other side is campaigning? On this test, the first fortnight has belonged to the In team. They have laid out their large themes about the risks that Brexit would pose to jobs, trade, investment, influence and security. This is exactly what you would expect them to do for both sides know that these are the arguments most likely to shift the uncertain voter towards the In column. How has the Out campaign responded? With some big themes of its own? No, the frontmen of the Out team have devoted most of their time to whimpering about the other’s side campaign.
Whingeing is, of course, a Britism for whining, and I know some folks who are whingeing about the end of Downton Abbey but that’s neither here nor there. I personally prefer the word whinge to whine but if y’all want to Americanize it, that’s fine with me.
Rawnsley’s rule is just as applicable to American politics, and rumor has it there’s a Presidential election going on. So, the next time someone complains about “the establishment,” whatever the hell that means in either party, just remember this: If you’re whingeing, you’re losing.