Is Ed Balls ‘the most annoying person in modern politics’?
Perhaps it depends what the Prime Minister means by ‘modern’. If we take the term as it relates to the English language, we are talking about the post-1500s. There have been a fair few annoying people since that era, and, indeed, quite a few during it, not least those who conspired in that fateful day in 1556. If we were to apply the term to history generally, we are looking at all politicians since the end of the Middle Ages: again, an awful lot. If modernity is being considered in relation to the arts, well, this is difficult, but it’s essentially the first half of the 20th century. Modern in relation to politics is sometimes used to refer to the period since the late 19th century or simply to the post-war period. But if, as is most likely, the Prime Minister was talking of modern as it relates to the present, it is difficult to understand why he bestows the award for superlative annoyance upon Ed Balls.
Perhaps it depends what the Prime Minister means by ‘annoying’. If it is slight anger or mental distress, quite a few of his own backbenchers will be vying for position. If it is in the sense of repeated harassment, one would think that Nick Clegg would be more of a thorn in the Mr Cameron’s side. But ‘annoyance’ derives from the French ‘anuier’ which itself derives from the Latin ‘odio’, meaning hateful.
If the Prime Minister believes Ed Balls to be the most annoying, excruciating, irritating, aggravating, meddling, disconcerting, vexing, bothersome and hateful person in modern politics, he has clearly never met Ken Livingstone.