One of the few bright spots of covering the Prime Minister is you learn a few new words.
Thanks to Mr Johnson, I now know what mugwump means, as well as integument, popinjay and picanninny.
There was another one when he talked about recovering from the pandemic: “We are not going to try and cheese-pare our way out of trouble.”
I had to look up cheese-pare – 18th century, to make small financial cuts.
He does this a lot. Throws in some archaic word or a bit of Latin to distract you from what he’s actually saying.
Because the important bit of what he said in the summer came in the bit before the cheese.
“I just serve notice,” said Mr Johnson, “that we will not be responding to this crisis with what people called austerity.”
Subtle, that. Because he never ruled out austerity – he ruled out the word.
George Osborne gave the game away in the summer when he appeared before the Treasury Committee: “You don’t have to call it austerity, you don’t have to tell the public you’re doing it.
“You could try to get away with it as a government and pretend you’re not doing it.”
That’s where we are now. Next week’s Spending Review is likely to include a public sector pay freeze.
And the only question is how they are going to sell it to us. They’ve already used We’re All In This Together. Sacrifices have been mentioned. Tough choices is a regular theme.
But none of it is true. We know who will get landed with the bill for this, we always did.
Lots of Tories are worried about this – particularly in the north, where there has been no sign of the promised “levelling-up” and services are already cut to the bone.
They know the public will not wear another round of austerity for two main reasons: It’s not fair and it doesn’t work.
A pay freeze has not gone down well. Matt Wrack, of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “We warned ministers in the summer that clapping key workers would not pay the bills.”
And the GMB’s Rehana Azam said: “Workers have lost friends and loved ones. The crisis is still raging. Now they’re kicked while they’re down.”
But what did we expect? This is a government whose priorities grow clearer by the day.
They look after their friends. And we’re not their friends.
The firefighters, nurses and public sector workers are not their friends.
Chumocracy, they are calling it, although there are different, less pleasant words.
No magic money tree, then, to reward those who have given so much during this crisis.
But there is cash knocking about, it seems. An extra £16billion is on the way to the Ministry of Defence to help out the Navy, give soldiers laser guns and make sure we are prepared for any war in space.
Incredible. People are worried about lockdowns, low wages, not having enough food, businesses closing, public services vanishing, a stretched police force, zero-hours contracts, care homes, the strain on the NHS, pandemics, poor transport links, endemic corruption, rising inequality.
So maybe try sorting some of that little lot before, you know, worrying about the Death Star…