Philomena on democracy and the elections

May 7, 2015 • 12:35 pm

I found this at, of all places, reddit. It’s Philomena’s “Moments of Wonder” from last night’s “Weekly Wipe,” and is already up on YouTube. It’s classic Philomena, but for once the guest—Government Man—gets the best of our girl.

Her classic quote: “Just like other Greek inventions like thick yogurt, sodomy and triangles, democracy has taken the world by storm.”

Here’s the entire show. You can see another bit of Philomena, explaining the election in front of a greenscreen, between 11:11 and 14:18.

h/t: Kieran, Ben goren

56 thoughts on “Philomena on democracy and the elections

  1. I gotta say, that greenscreen is pretty damned technically impressive, for all the reasons Ms. Cunk details. I didn’t know that they were that sophisticated!


  2. When they go back to Brooker, is that a raspberry pi he’s got Philomena trapped inside?

  3. The professor of politics and constitution is gloriously deadpan.

    Bet he would be terrible to go on holiday with!

  4. Honestly, I was LOL over the horse-monster bit, but I was ROTFLMAO when that random Hitler bit got in “democratically”.

    What makes it really funny is that, apart from what she’s actually saying, it’s very much like some modern documentaries I’ve seen. Such pitch-perfect parody!

  5. “According to Google translate, Magma Carta is Latin for cardboard volcano” – priceless!

    1. I once overheard a federal judge lecture his clerks that proposed opinions should be written in good, plain Anglo-Saxon words. After he left, I emerged from the library stacks where I had been eavesdropping and pointed out that the great British contribution to legal writing was called Magna Carta, that there was no Anglo-Saxon word for “justice” (which was maybe His Honor’s point) — and that his instructions had been contravened by every Anglophone author of note from Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer to Orwell, Waugh, and both the Amises. But, hey, if the guy wants opinions that read like Beowulf, give the guy opinions that read like Beowulf.

      Or at least that’s the way I remember my comments now.

      1. IIRC, Orwell wrote a polemic agin thuh infiltration of Latin and Greek into the Anglo-Saxon English language.

  6. ‘…thick yogurt, sodomy and triangles…’

    Puts the Greeks in a dead heat with the Royal Navy’s tradition of “rum, sodomy, and the lash” — though the tiebreak goes to the Greeks, since the Admiralty is the antithesis of “democracy.”

        1. The cucumbers — that’s still relating to the “thick yogurt” rather than “the sodomy” part, right? 🙂

  7. I’m staying up all night to monitor the elections. CNN does it as well. UK seats so far: Labour (not Labor!) 7, Conservative 3, DUP (nothern ireland) 1.

    Probably, the conservatives will win. They will need the DUP and UKIP to form a coalition government. But exit polls and opinion polls are miles apart.

    1. Last time I stayed up all night for an election was when president Obama was elected. In english class I said that Obama was chosen, because the dutch word is “gekozen” which translates directly to “chosen”. But my english teacher said it was better to use the word “elected” because “chosen” implied divine approval.

      1. That’s correct. If you wanted to use the word, “chosen,” the way to do it would be to qualify it: “The electorate has chosen Obama to be their next President.” Or, perhaps, “Exit polls suggest that, in the end, Obama was chosen because of his domestic agenda.”


        1. Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it if people alert to me the nuances of the english language.

        2. Professor Ceiling Cat is our Chosen One. The divine paw, entangled as it was with the giant ball of wool from which Ceiling Cat created the matrix of the fabric of reality, reached through the clouds & anointed his head with oil!

        3. ‘If you wanted to use the word, “chosen,” the way to do it would be to qualify it…’

          Or to be Oprah — that always helps.

      2. Bush would nearly have to have been so “chosen,” inasmuch as Gore won the popular vote. And Bush has more or less claimed a direct channel of communication to the Author of the Universe.

      3. Unfortunately it might be more accurate to say that elections give voters the appearance of choice.

      4. Non native English Speakers are always way better at English than even the English are!

        I would think nothing of saying David Cameron was ‘choosen’, or that the universe is a ‘creation’, and other assorted implications I didn’t mean to make.

        1. I think it is perhaps because when you learn a language formally instead of just pick up it as a child your English tends to be better structured.

          1. …& you seem to be suggesting that there is some agreed structure to English – yet languages do not work like that. Besides, it makes mores sense to talk of ‘Englishes’ rather than ‘English’, as the language of a rural Lancashire farmer is just as English as the language of for example, old Etonian David Cameron.

            1. I didn’t mean to suggest that. I think I just don’t know what I am talking about, and I hope you will forgive me for that common internet error.

              All I can say is that I am a big fan of Stephen Fry’s take on english linguistics! He seems to be the go too guy on matters of the English Language.

              1. Also I only got a ‘D’ in A Level English but to be fair I did it one night a week for a year not the normal several hours a week for two years 😉

        2. I think “always way better at English than the English are” is a bit of an overstatement. Having said that, my wife – a non native English speaker – certainly speaks a lot better English than many natives.

    2. Well, that didn’t go too well. At least five more years of a tory government, only this time unrestrained by any liberal influence. A perfect storm of incompetence and fortune has blown for the Conservatives this election – it really couldn’t have gone better.

      An SNP that has essentially annexed Scotland for itself and annihilated the Labour vote(and an SNP whose long-term goal is independence, therefore an unpopular tory government in England is perfect for them as well.), a Labour leader who never became anything more than a pity vote with the general public, a Liberal Democratic party who spent four and a half of their five years avoiding criticising their coalition partners and ceding credit for the good things they did to the tories too, making the tories look acceptable to the centre ground whilst deluding themselves that the voters would respect them for ‘stepping up to the plate’, their inexperience and idealism casting them as perfect useful idiots, and an anti-democratic movement spearheaded by the arsehole’s arsehole, Russell Brand, that undoubtedly hobbled much of the progressive vote.

      I really hope Brand gets the criticism his posturing bullshit deserves. It’s been deeply depressing hearing nominal progressives clucking about how he has a point – I think that’s an incredibly dangerous attitude. Young voter apathy is the answer to conservative prayers, and anyone like Brand who is prepared to piss the hopes of British liberalism up the wall for at least another half-decade simply because he’s suddenly read Revolutionary Politics For Complete Morons should be hung out to dry by the left, rather than held up, incredibly, as some kind of role model. Of course the role Brand played in yesterday’s election is probably minute, but he’s symbolic of a kind of lazy, corpulent complacency.

      This has not been a good twenty-four hours for me so I apologise for the outpouring. I’m aware that, by comparison with the Republicans, the Conservatives must seem like tiddlers but I’ve seen how much damage they’ve done to the welfare state, to the lives of the genuinely disempowered – the disabled, the mentally ill, any group who tends not to vote tory.

      These people have been smulched underneath the shoes of private companies like Atos, who’ve operated in the most callous fashion, with impunity, whilst the gap between the rich and the poor has only become bigger. And all this happened with the apparent restraining influence of the Lib Dems.

      What we have now is a relatively young, hungry, idealistically driven group of Conservatives operating by themselves, unrestrained – people like Osborne, Gove, Shapps, etc. are far more ideologically driven towards privatisation, shrinking the state, slashing benefits and financial deregulation than older, more pragmatic tories who’ve challenged Labour over the last fifteen years. I’m not very optimistic. The liberal-left is in a bad way, and that’s without even starting on the philosophical mess they’re in over Islam, free-speech, censorship, etc…

      1. My my, we re having a bad day. So What aspect of Gordon Brown being the worst Prime Minister in the last 100 years and virtually bankrupting the country are you choosing to ignore.

        And before you climb back on your high-horse I was born in 1946 my parents were staunch Socialists and I joined the Young Socialists on my 16th birthday (genetically I’m half Scots and half Irish, just born in the north of England) My parents would have been horrified at the tax and spend ideology of the modern labour party, horrified at the benefits culture that still pervades this country. Remember that it was Lord Mynas, a former banker, that was sent by Gordon Brown to ‘look into’ the behaviour of the banks and declared their behaviour as acceptable – so much for Brown’s business acumen.

        It’s true that the Tories have much to answer for and they need to take a close look at whether they believe in democracy or privilege but without a strong economy, which you will never get if people are allowed to just live off the State, you have nothing. So, instead of feeling sorry for yourself why not engage your more than adequate grey matter.

        Sorry for my little rank, but whinging just gets up my nose – it make you sound like Anjem Choudray.

        1. horrified at the benefits culture that still pervades this country

          I presume you’re talking about the implicit subsidies and tax avoidance behaviours of banks, businesses, private contractors, big companies close to government, land owners, foreign fat cats using London as a haven, and big farmers, that all either pay lower taxes than the less affluent citizens through regressive taxation, or just plain indulge in tax avoidance, diverting money, and dumping the costs of their activities on others.

          I did for a moment think you were talking about benefit fraudsters, but then I remembered that the costs of the former are something in the region of a hundred times greater than the costs of the latter, so I corrected myself.

          In which case, I agree. I find it disturbing. Neither Labour nor Conservatives seem genuinely interested in tackling this problem.

          To pick what I hope is an indicative example, I’ve seen, in the last two to three years, local public services reduce their staff and reduce their opening hours to straining points, and closures of individual buildings have been a constant concern (and occasionally a reality). Meanwhile, Capital Gains Tax has never been brought in line with Income Tax (the only progressive tax at the moment), and Corporation Tax has dropped from 28% in 2011 to 21% as of 2014, and is being cut again to 20% so that it will become “the lowest in the G20”. That basically means the money that could have been put into keeping public services at a healthy and not-strained state is instead being used to subsidize rent-seekers.

          I don’t doubt that a strong economy helps, but too often that becomes an excuse for profiteering. What gets lost in the narrative of austerity and Labour’s government spending sprees is the mass of fortunes siphoned off or wasted, something which Cameron has done barely anything about. He probably won’t cripple the economy as much as Brown and Blair did, but since New Labour was basically about beating the Conservatives at their own neoliberalist game, I can’t express much confidence that it is or will be a “strong” one under him, either.

          1. Remember that it was Tony Blair and Gordon Brown who applied ‘light tough control’ of the banks, thinking that they would play ball – they did with Blair and Brown. Not for one minute am I supporting the misdemeanours of the Tories but when your politics take on the aspects of a class war and not what government should be doing then you have a problem and that is what New Labour did, even then they were castigated by their paymasters who control the Unions. Yes you will always have greed, and that knows no bounds but it was Tony Blair who introduced the Private finance Initiative with sufficient checks (or cheques) and balances and that is one of the reasons that many hospitals, including Pinderfields in Wakefield, is struggling financially – the interest payments are horrendous. Privatisation of the NHS under Blair and Brown was 5%, the Tories have increased that by a further 1%.

            As far as public services in Wakefield are concerned there are certain local Labour politicians of influence who appear to treat the coffers like their personal piggy bank.

            The Labour party cannot handle money, and the more they waste on ‘personal’ projects the less there is to spend on what is necessary.

            1. I agree with you; New Labour was a government from Hell. It’s a good thing they didn’t win this election. The thought of Ed Miliband as Prime Minister is not a comforting one.

              I just find it depressing that, however much the Conservatives aren’t as bad, they’re still not much of an improvement, and it feels like we’re just setting a low bar. They’re not reversing enough of the New Labour legacy, for a start.

              Don’t even get me started on UKIP. I was taken aback to see them get so many seats, especially if it meant gutting the Lib Dems. Darn.

          2. “I don’t doubt that a strong economy helps but too often that becomes an excuse for profiteering” – Agreed. It’s also a very effective tool with which to terrify taxpayers into downgrading the importance of social values. The idea that you can either have a healthy economy or a fair society has been very effectively propagated by right-wing apologists.

            I also think the tories fought this campaign quite brilliantly and a confluence of factors also worked in their favour(their Jedi mind trick in convincing the public that they opposed New Labour’s economic latitude, when in fact at the time they criticised NL for not going far enough, is their stand-out campaign achievement IMO). They’ve done well on the economy, not miraculously but well. That is not, to me, enough to justify the disproportionate hardships faced by the economically and physically vulnerable over the last half-decade. On top of this are the massive further cuts to welfare which are still to come.

            To some this might seem like just deserts, a reckoning for a lazy, complacent underclass, a generation that feels entitled to an income whether or not they work. However, whenever I speak to people who feel this way, and ask them why they feel this way, the answers are always anecdotal – ‘my neighbour has a flat screen tv and doesn’t get out of bed ’til eleven’. They tend not to know very much about the actual data on claimants, on the proportion of cheats, the actual amount they have to live on, etc.

            I’m not oblivious to the successes of the coalition. Economically they’ve done well. However, the damage that has been done in certain areas is extensive, and, whether it is ideological or not, it feels that way.

            Also, although it’ll take a while, I think some of the voters who’ve left the Lib Dems in droves might begin to grasp how important the party was in curbing the tories over the last five years.

        2. Thanks for the condescension. If it came across to you as whinging, well, some people are so insulted by the perception that their conservatism is inherently selfish that they dismiss criticism in that way.

          I’ve heard enough of the utter drivel from right-wingers about how Labour created the financial crash, destroyed our economy with their profligacy, pushed toddlers into traffic etc. This has been the only line of defence for the swingeing cuts that the tories have enacted, and it’s still being used five years on from the last election.

          What the Conservatives have done very well is paper over the fact that they agreed with ALL of the deregulation policies that Labour is being blamed for. Every single one. In most cases the tory’s only criticism of the Labour government of the time was that they were not deregulating enough. So I tend not to fall for that particular argument.

          The other argument, the binary assertion that you either have a healthy economy or an economy that treats people on welfare like human beings, is, I’m afraid, not something I’m on board with. The way private companies deal with benefit claimants has been an under-reported source of misery for millions. The level of outsourcing has risen dramatically over the last five years and the tories have used the cheap go-to sloganeering about ‘scroungers’ as a beautifully effective political tool. The utter shambles of the benefits system, with claimants going six months without being paid and Atos cutting corners and getting involved in outright fraud, is not something I can personally dismiss. Let’s just say the tories haven’t quite convinced me that the only way to have a healthy economy is by overwhelmingly hitting the poorest and most vulnerable.

        3. I found the comparison to Anjem Choudary amusing though 🙂 We do have a lot in common.

  8. In Scotland, the Scottish National Party has just brutally murdered Labour Jack-The-Ripper-style.

    1. I would love for someone to explain how the SNP has any credibility after the attempted Scottish exit from the UK. I admit I cannot fully understand UK politics, especially since I get most of my news about it from things like Mock the Week, QI, Russell Howard’s Good News, and the Friday Night Comedy on BBC 4.

      1. It’s a first past the post system. Even with a score as low as 30% one could take the seat, as long as you’re ahead of all the other parties. SNP is just much more popular than the Labour party. Scotland used to be Labour territory. But in almost all the constituencies Labour came behind the SNP.

        1. That is correct. The upside of this system is that at least it has resulted in virtually no parliamentary seats for the right wing and racist UKIP party(even if their official line is that they are not racist, time and again UKIP’s candidates and supporters have revealed themselves to be overtly racist including, most recently, the candidate who was suspended for being caught on camera saying that if his opponent, of Indian descent, ever became Prime Minister he would personally put a bullet in his head).

      2. I would say that those are the best tv programmes to learn about it!

        I learn all my american politics not from CNN or MSN but from the daily show and the colbert report!

      3. The Yes campaign got 45% in the referendum. The SNP polled 50% in the General Election. That means 5% more of the turn out voted for them. Given that the turn out was much higher in the referendum, the change could be explained by only no voters staying at home in the GE.

        They won all the seats because the referendum no vote was split in all the constituencies.

        1. You are exactly right

          Even though they have romped home, (in terms of actual numbers, rather than a percentage of the vote), less people voted for the SNP last night, than in the referendum

  9. Actually, if I may be serious, there is a new book
    Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve, by Ian Morris
    That may be of interest –
    “Most people in the world today think democracy and gender equality are good, and that violence and wealth inequality are bad. But most people who lived during the 10,000 years before the nineteenth century thought just the opposite.”…

    1. “But most people who lived during the 10,000 years before the nineteenth century thought just the opposite.”

      I think those data might be fairly strongly filtered …

  10. “These horse monster things use their wooden head sticks in a primal battle”. Brilliant!

Leave a Reply