Tom Watson has labelled Boris Johnson a “cheese-headed fopdoodle” in an apparent attempt to mimic the Foreign Secretary’s idiosyncratic brand of insult.
Boris threw the campaign into disarray last week when he called Jeremy Corbyn a “mutton-headed mugwump”, sending British journalists running for their dictionaries.
Boris was building on a reputation for bizarre insults, but it appears ‘mugwump’ may have been the last straw for Watson.
In a speech in Blackpool on Tuesday, Labour’s deputy leader said: “Boris Johnson is a caggie-handed cheese-headed fopdoodle with a talent for slummocking about.”
For the uninitiated, Webster’s Dictionary defines a fopdoodle as “a stupid or insignificant fellow; a fool; a simpleton”.
“Slummocking” means to “behave in a lazy, indolent, or clumsy way”.
While Boris’ insult achieved its aim of having people say “Jeremy Corbyn” and “mugwump” in the same sentence as much as possible, immediate reaction to Watson’s jibe was that the election was degenerating into what one tweeter called “regency bantz”.
“When we require diplomacy, Boris sows discord,” Watson said in his speech to the Usdaw union.
“At a time when we need a serious-minded national representative to deal skilfully with some of the most complex problems our country faces, Johnson falls back on bluster and bombast.”
Boris deployed his insult in a column for The Sun, in which he said: “Well, [voters] say to themselves: ‘He may be a mutton-headed old mugwump, but he is probably harmless’.
“Do you have those feelings? Have you ever thought the leader of the opposition is an essentially benign Islingtonian herbivore? Have you felt a pang of sympathy for his plight? If so, fight it.”
Guardian political editor Heather Stewart wrote that the phrase reflected the tactics of Tory election chief Lynton Crosby, calling it “a taster of the personal onslaught the Labour leader will have to endure over the next six weeks”.