Source: p 5. Rhetoric: A Very Short Introduction (1 ed, 2013) by Richard Toye.

In particular, it is important to be sensitive to differences in political systems—giving a speech in the British House of Commons is a different affair from giving one in the US Senate, the European Parliament, or the French National Assembly. Even apparently similar systems can produce remarkably different cultures of speech: like the British, the Australians operate the 'Westminster model' but have a tradition of robust political insult that puts the efforts of the mother country's parliamentarians in the shade. It is also important to be sensitive to change over time. In the late nineteenth century, the lengthy and convoluted orations of British Prime Minister W. E. Gladstone were widely acclaimed and sustained his enthusiastic popular following; a century later they would have seemed radically out of place.

I can infer that 'mother country' refers to England, but I do not understand the bolded Verb Phrase.

  1. What does 'robust political insult' mean?

  2. What about the UK Parliament, is the Australian Parliament's 'putting in the shade'?


What does 'robust political insult' mean?

I read this as meaning that Australians are more plain speaking.

From a list of Australian political insults

Howard is an a-se-licker. He went over there, kissed some bums, and got patted on the head.

Australian politician Mark Latham made this comment about fellow politician John Howard. Contrast that with this example from the United Kingdom:

He can’t see a belt without hitting below it.

Margot Asquith said this about a British politician. Note that this is more subtle and has less profanity.

What about the UK Parliament, is the Australian Parliament's 'putting in the shade'?

It seems to be claiming that Australian politicians insult each other more strongly and frequently than do British politicians. I don't know that that is true, but it seems to be making that suggestion.

I took the background point to be that behavior that would fit in one system (e.g. using profanity in insults) might be regarded badly in another. Of course, it seems to be written more in the kind of understatement associated with the UK than the plain statements expected from an Australian.

  • 1
    It's worth pointing out that while most, if not all, of the linked Aussie insults were actually said in parliament, very few of the UK ones were. In the Aussie parliament, personal insults are eagerly anticipated. In the UK parliament they are usually reprimanded. – Alex Sep 20 '16 at 9:46
  • It's also worth pointing out that the school-yard level of insults and chicanery regularly performed by our supposedly esteemed representatives is just downright embarrassing. It's quite depressing, really. – user7754 Sep 20 '16 at 22:46
  • 1
    @Thomo insert random jeering and yelling – SGR Oct 19 '16 at 10:30

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