The prefix ‘omni’ is usually used to denote the all-encompassing qualities of a supreme deity, or to advertise eight hours of Hollyoaks on a Sunday.
This week, it has taken its place in modern political discourse in the form of ‘omnishambles’, an effort to describe the current Government’s all-encompassing ability to do nothing competently; omnipotent’s antonym. Does that, then, make the Coalition a satanic cult? A cabal that forms the antichrist? It would be offensive of me to suggest so. Make up your own minds.
More specifically though, Ed Miliband used ‘omnishambles’ effort to describe George Osborne’s Budget. In fact, given that the word ‘shambles’ originally meant a place of slaughter or carnage, it seems a fitting Budget description.
“Take this herd of public spending to the abattoir, George, so the wealthy can get their prime tender slice of chateaubriand, tax cut steak.”
It has become the word of the moment, the only lasting memory of another forgettable PMQs, where the truth only stretches so far as what you want to talk about. There’s usually very little about it that could be described as all-encompassing
With the word appropriated from The Thick of It, omnishambles represents an odd point in British politics: a moment at which politicians have begun to parody satire. They have looked into the distorted mirror, held up by satirists in order that they might see their own failings, and thought “I look great.” If anything, it appears they now hold up their own disfigured caricatures as images of their perfect self. Dorian wants to look like the portrait.
Perhaps ironic too, that despite the claims he wants to move on from New Labour, it should be Malcolm Tucker that Miliband quotes at PMQs, the character famously based on Alastair Campbell. To get one up on Cameron, Miliband has turned to ape the exaggerated failings of those he said he wouldn’t become.
Now what does that tell us?