The hidden meaning of ‘wurkers’, ‘early risers’ and ‘taxpayers’

Public discourse has never been so heavy with innuendos and euphemisms

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: an early riser and proud of it. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: an early riser and proud of it. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

 

“Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Or so goes the adage. But it has become something of a sport to hide what you mean and mean something other than what you’re saying. Not quite as catchy, I admit, but we now find ourselves in a time where political and public discourse is full of hidden meaning, hint, innuendo and euphemism.

One man’s peaceful sit-down protest is another man’s ugly, violent and nasty thuggery.

Take “taxpayers” for example. These are the people who pay tax; that’s you and me, as they say. We are all taxpayers in one way or another, directly or indirectly. But used in the right way, the term “taxpayers” can mean so much more. For example, if a politician says a certain measure will “cost taxpayers” a certain amount of money, you can be sure they want you to believe the measure is bad. They are plucking at your fiscal heartstrings.

Beware too of the use of the word “wurker”, a favourite of the union movement

If folk are trying to get your buy-in for spending of “taxpayers’ money” they will tell you they are “investing in much-needed infrastructure” or “essential services (for the vulnerable)” .

Beware too of the use of the word “wurker”, a favourite of the union movement. When they talk about “wurkers” they are generally talking about people who are (a) members of their own unions and (b) earn less than a TD.

Workers are not simply people who work, a group representing about 65 per cent or more of the population. For example, groups of solicitors, bankers, accountants or other professionals, regardless of how badly paid they might be, will rarely be described as workers. If they are laying it on thick they might use the term “ordinary wurkers”, or, if things really need to be emphasised, we will hear utterances of “ordinary, wurking families”. How could you not have sympathy for ordinary working families and the way they might look at you? Never mind the extraordinary working singletons.

Get up early, get up often

Now let’s deal with People Who Get Up Early in the Morning (PWGUEITM). Leo Varadkar has been qualifying what he meant by this ever since he first mentioned it during the Fine Gael leadership contest. He himself gets up about 6.45am, the Taoiseach recently told Vincent Browne.

The cohort, it turns out, does not just include well-heeled Fine Gael supporters but also homemakers and carers who have to get up early for their daily grind. In a recent video message Varadkar included those on minimum wage on the list too. We know Leo does not include in PWGUEITM those who get up early to defraud the Department of Social Protection. We may also surmise, but could never prove, that the PWGUEITM group does not include workers, ordinary workers or ordinary working families, regardless of what time their daily commute starts, although we know that Leo and his left-wing adversaries would insist that everybody they represent is getting up early in the morning. Try sleeping through six gardaí coming through your front door early in the morning to arrest you on charges of false imprisonment.

The PWGUEITM whom Leo was whistling at are more likely commuting for an hour to a “good” job, are college-educated, have a boom-time mortgage and are, if they are being honest with themselves, annoyed when they hear people calling for pay restoration for the “ordinary wurkers”. They would, however, be open to the Fine Gael’s “let’s abolish the USC and pay back the water charges” tune.

Feeling restored?

This brings us nicely to the phrase “pay restoration”. Here’s a euphemism if ever we heard one. If you are a wurker, an ordinary wurker or the member of an ordinary wurkin’ family struggling to survive, this is what you get after a negotiation between your employer, quite possibly the State, and your union. If you are somebody who gets up early in the morning you may recognise the phrase and take it to mean a pay rise. But you may not have to navigate this for a while yet.

This is, of course, because you are part of Generation X and quite possibly identify as being part of the “coping classes” or the “squeezed middle”. For a definition of this, see the section above on people who get up early in the morning.

The “hard left” is what the people who represent those who get up early in the morning call the people who represent the ordinary working families

A lot of these phrases are associated with the type of politics you proclaim, and in this area too, there are many labels, known knowns, and wink-and-nudge name-calling.

The “far left” or the “hard left” is what the people who represent those who get up early in the morning call the people who represent the ordinary working families. Conservative, right wing or Thatcherite (if things get really heated) is what the “hard left” calls the centre-right parties, most often Fine Gael. Centre left basically means the Labour party, while the Republican Movement is Sinn Féin and all of their many friends, supporters and activists. Some of these are also ordinary workers but none of them are people who get up early in the morning even though, of course, many of them rise very early in the morning, or like the rest of us, come home late at night. Many of them are looking for pay restoration, but then again, isn’t everybody?

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