十二 13 2011

Switzerland with nuclear weapons, or Norway without oil?

Published by under Daily Quote

2011-12-10 Financial Times front page

上周五英国首相卡梅伦拒绝在拯救欧元协议上签字,在英国媒体上,有的用 veto,有的用 walk out 来形容。如果英国真的离开欧洲,那回变成什么呢?

有一种说法是那些持欧洲怀疑论的保守党议员希望 Britain to be like Switzerland with nuclear weapon。Switzerland 是指像瑞士那样中立、做局外人,nuclear weapon 则是指还有核大国身份。这一说法似乎最早在 The Economist 杂志网站上出现,形容这些保守党议员既想脱离欧洲,又想保持英国国际地位的不切实想法。

但是在 The Independent 上出现了另一句话,引自一位没有透露姓名的自由民主党高级成员的话:

“The Little Englanders think we will be like Switzerland, but with nuclear weapons. Actually, we’ll be like Norway, but without the oil.”

Norway 是形容其在地理上和政治上都处于欧洲边缘,无决策力。但是挪威人并没有成为有影响大国的企图。同样重要的是挪威有石油,在欧洲能源独立性地位重要。没有石油的挪威,就根本不要指望有任何影响力了。

上面这句话还有 The Little Englanders 形容那些支持英国脱离欧洲的英格兰人(确实持欧洲怀疑论的人绝大部分是英格兰人)如井底之蛙一般。

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30 2009

Daily Quote: student politics

Published by under Daily Quote

英国众议院每周三中午有30分钟的 Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQ – 我过去曾用过“首相提问时间”和“首相答问时间”两种译法,显然后者更好)。现在的趋势,根据一些议会专门报道议会辩论的记者(他们的职业称呼是 sketch writer – 议会写生员),似乎是越来越粗鲁没礼貌。原因是工党首相布朗(Gordon Brown)容易动怒又不会开玩笑骂人,而保守党领袖卡梅伦(Cameron)倒是严辞锋利,但为了避免显得夸夸其谈太轻飘,不得不时时做出激愤状。两人你来我往谁也收不住,有时弄得大家都下不了台,身后的议员们就表现得像是一群看人打架在一边拍手叫好的看客,常常裁判--Common Speaker (众议院主席)不得不介入拉架。所以本周三双方互骂对方 student politics 就显得挺应时:

The Prime Minister tried to be rude in return by accusing Mr Cameron of playing “student politics“, but the Tory leader batted this straight back: “Mr Speaker, only one of us was a student politician and he’s never grown out of it.”

Mr Brown was obsessed by student politics at Edinburgh: Mr Cameron kept out of student politics at Oxford.

Andrew Gimson on Telegraph: Sketch: Gordon Brown feels the pain of creating a brave new world

《泰晤士报》上的 Ann Treneman 则更多地感叹在世界经济危机面前,别人都团结一致,英国的议员们却东奔西散:

Student politics? We should be so lucky. This may even be sub-playground. I have seen pre-schoolers behave better. What is strange is that, in the country, the recession has brought us together. As a people, we are hunkering down, trying to ride it out. But, at Westminster, the recession has driven our politicians farther apart. Now, as surreal as a dream, they are screaming into the wind across an ever-growing abyss.

Ann Treneman on the Times: No end in sight to Gordon Brown’s global nightmare

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十一 23 2008

Buzzword: fiscal stimulus

Published by under Buzzword

上星期 BBC Radio 4 上一位女主持顺口说,目前的经济危机,已经到了“Darling, do something!”的地步。这里的 Darling,当然是英国财相 Alistair Darling,他的这个奇妙的姓,是标题党们梦寐以求的。当然英语中还有许多奇妙的姓,Love 已是很普通,还有姓 Kiss 的。上次把一架忽然失去动力的英航班机安全滑翔到西思罗机场的驾驶员姓 Coward。

Daily Mail: A hero called Coward. BA pilot declares it was his deputy who landed stricken flight.

喊 Darling, do something! 是有原因的,Alistair Darling 即将在下周一公布下一年度财政预算案的预案,万众关注的,是其中的 fiscal stimulus --“财政刺激”方案。最近是首相布朗首先使用 fiscal stimulus 这个说法,为什么不说大白话 tax cut --“减税”呢?原因是:1.用术语显得比较专业;2.fiscal stimulus 听上去更正面,更象是在“采取行动”;3.避免卷进 tax cut 这个传统上左右两派的纷争。全球金融风暴暂时让意识形态乱了套,工党政府高举“减税刺激经济”大旗,保守党就跳出来说“不能不负责任的减税”。

Independent: Brown and Darling slash VAT in £18bn tax gamble

…Mr Brown is banking on tax cuts to provide the “fiscal stimulus” needed to kick-start the economy out of recession.

BBC: PM calls for global tax-cutting

He said: “It is now becoming increasingly accepted around the world that a temporary and affordable fiscal stimulus is necessary.”

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24 2008

Daily Quote: floored

Published by under BBC,Daily Quote

Simon Hoggart described the strangeness of last week’s Prime Minister’s Question Times (PMQ) in the Guardian:

It was a question time full of jollity. David Cameron floored Gordon Brown by agreeing with him. In private they probably concur on many things, but it doesn’t do to say so in front of the children, so this came as a surprise.

他用了两个比喻,floored 和 in front of the childre,形象地解释了 PMQ 的意义。

Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQ) 是英国首相每周一次来到议会辩论厅,面对全体议员回答问题的时刻。PMQ 的作用,让我想起我们看古代演义小说时,常出现的两军对阵,主将出马单挑的情形。如果一方主将被“斩于马下”,马上全军“阵脚大乱”、“望风而逃”。当然我们知道仗不是这么打的,将军们只要坐阵指挥,无需单挑比武功。但是演义小说如果没了武将单挑,便少了一大乐趣,现代政治也是一样。于是 PMQ 虽然名义上是给予所有议员质询首相的机会,但看点其实是反对党领袖如何单挑首相,连回合都规定好了,有6次机会。上周 David Cameron 把布朗打翻在地 (floored),保守党这边自然是“旌旗招展”、欢声雷动。

Simon Hoggart 接着又用反喻,把 PMQ 比作夫妻吵架--原应回避孩子们,但 PMQ 时,众议员们象是一群习惯了父母吵架的孩子,看着父母和和睦睦反而莫明其妙了。

It doesn’t do 是一种因为老式而有趣味的表达方法。在 BBC 的古装剧 Cranford 中,古板的 Deborah 就爱用这种表达方法,特别是当她觉得某种行为不合礼仪的时候。

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31 2008

Whip

Published by under Word by Word

保守党议员 Derek Conway 滥用权力,把用于管理的专款给自己的两个不干活的儿子发议会研究助理的工资。被报纸捅出来之后,Conway 在众议院道了歉。接着是保守党党魁卡梅伦“withdraw the whip”,即把他开除出“议会内的保守党”。现在 Conway 仍然是众议院议员,却不能再代表保守党了,再往后议员位置也难保。

Whip 用在议会上,比较好的翻译是“党督”,主要工作是保证政党领导的意见能传达到党内议员,特别是在投票时,监督议员在投票时遵守党的指示。过去在报纸上看到议会新闻用到 whip 这个词时,我经常想像一个手执皮鞭的女人(过去工党的众议院党督是 Jaquie Smith,现在的内务大臣),在议会大厦里驱赶一群大老爷们乖乖投票的样子。

Whip 可以指“党督”这个人或者这个位置;也可以指“党督”这个体制--所以 withdraw the whip 指某个政党不再承认某个议员在自己的管制之下;还可以用作动词,比如 the vote is whipped 指“投票受党督的监督”。

Whip 还有三种不同的程度。如果是一条鞭子(Single line whip),党的投票指示传达下去,本党议员可以选择不参加投票。两条鞭子(Two line whip),本党议员必须参加投票,无法参加投票要事先请示,但是如果不按党的指示投票,不会受到党内处分。三条鞭子(Three line whip)最为严厉,不仅必须参加投票,不按党的指示投票,就要准备接受党内处分了。

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09 2007

Daily Quote: CLM and CEM

Published by under Daily Quote

《卫报》(The Guardian)的 Michael White 有着一手风趣的文笔。有关这次提前大选风波,他写道

…But what mattered yesterday was that Mr Brown blinked first. In the long run it may not prove to be what managers sometimes call a CLM – a career limiting moment. If he recovers strongly the “Bottler Brown” jibe will fade.

But the weekend’s drama was defintely a career enhancing moment for two of the other players. Mr Cameron may just have had a “people’s princess” moment with the Middle Britain public. And this was surely the day when Mr Marr inherited one of nation’s great constitutional offices. From here on he is The Dimbleby of State.

Mr Marr : Andrew Marr. 原 BBC 政治编辑 (political editor),现在担任 BBC One 星期天早晨的政治清谈节目 The Andrew Marr Show。这次 Gordon Brown 就是选择他的节目宣布不会有提前的大选。此举代表了 Andrew Marr 的节目在英国政治生活中的重要地位--与另一位资深的时事节目主持人 Johnathan Dimbleby 看齐。

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