Welcome to the newest - and tastiest - word in the political lexicon that you need to know about
It’s the hottest new political term in town.
You’ve almost certainly seen it pop up in your social media feed in the last few days: but what exactly is a ‘gammon’?
Up until now, it’s simply been the age-old term for the hind leg of pork after it has been cured by dry-salting or brining, best enjoyed alongside a lovely fried egg and some crispy chips.
But now it has entered the political mainstream as a term for a specific type of angry, male, middle-aged Brexiteer, frequently seen on Twitter and Question Time arguing about sovereignty and how we should ‘just get on with it’. The ‘gammon’ monicker comes from the observation that their face is frequently a shade of dark pink; the darkness a manifestation of the mild rage that they build up from getting their points across about a system which is apparently ‘against them’ yet of which they seem to be a net beneficiary.
As is often the case, no one is quite sure where the term has sprung up from, but Caitlin Moran called David Cameron “a camp gammon robot - a C3PO made of ham” in her 2013 book Moranthology (nb. This predated the former Prime Minster’s famous alleged ‘Pig-gate’ incident, which came to light in 2015).
The term was also used by celebrity chef Ruby Tandoh in 2015 when she described Paul Hollywood as “a walking gammon joint”.
Children’s author Ben Davies appears to have been the first to create the now infamous ‘wall of Gammon’, referring to its current Leave-voter form, when he tweeted this on 9 June 2017.
Bot-maker extraordinaire Rob Manuel then created a now-deleted ‘Gammonbot’ at the start of this year, which attempted to hunt out ‘gammons’ on Twitter:
It was even debated on Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show on Monday:
One eagle-eyed Twitter user spotted no less a figure than Dickens using it in Nicholas Nickelby, suggesting that maybe it has lain dormant since the mid-19th Century:
However, the term has now come under fire after becoming widely adopted by Remain-voting, largely left-leaning people, with the Labour MP for Chesterfield claiming that ‘Gammon is so obviously a racist slur’:
Gammon is so obviously a racist slur, that I can't understand why people who generally decry racism think its ok to use it. Whether you consider the people being mocked to be discriminated against generally has nothing to do with whether using it is racist.— Toby Perkins (@tobyperkinsmp) May 14, 2018
However, people were quick to defend its use, with Matt Zarb-Cousin, the former spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn, saying that ‘no one is born a gammon’.
He had previously spoken of the term in February, describing gammons as ″Older men who, despite having all the opportunities that baby boomers enjoyed, are confused and angry at the modern world. It’s a condition that once manifested itself as an affinity to UKIP, but now more so to high blood pressure and a red meat complexion.”
This led to an ‘interesting’ exchange of ideas between Perkins and Zarb-Cousin:
No one is born a gammon Toby, it’s not racist. Would have been nice to see you call out the Islamophobia of Melanie Phillips in the Times last week with at least as much vigour— Matt Zarb-Cousin (@mattzarb) May 14, 2018
I save plenty of vigour for calling out Islamophobia, including speaking at Stand up to Racism rallies against Islamophobia in light of terrorist atrocities so drop that crap. Any 'slur' that seeks to use a physical feature (white/ pink skin) as key component is CLEARLY racist.— Toby Perkins (@tobyperkinsmp) May 14, 2018
Their complexion is a consequence of their state of mind. Angry, reactionary, red in the face in the Question Time audience..... they’re the social conservatives to the social liberal centrist dads, both of whom have lost control of the narrative of Britain’s story since Brexit— Matt Zarb-Cousin (@mattzarb) May 14, 2018
You can be a black centrist dad, could you be a black gammon, so to speak?— Toby Perkins (@tobyperkinsmp) May 14, 2018
So should you use the term?
Well, it certainly is accurate - they do look like gammons.
Is it racist? Well, it’s quite a stretch - and it’s hugely ironic that those complaining about the term are those most likely to call young, left-leaning people who are unafraid to call out various social injustices ‘snowflakes’.
Perhaps they should embrace the term to nullify its potency.
Do what you feel, but it seems actual Gammons are OK with it.