Normally new political parties sink without a trace. But amid the hubbub around the Hartlepool by-election, the fledgling Northern Independence Party (NIP) has caused a stir, being covered by everyone from the Daily Express to Novara Media.
No party is truly established until it acquires a derogatory nickname, as evinced by the Tories’ longstanding embrace of their own slur. It is therefore with some amusement that Marchamont notes one prominent suggestion for the Northumbrian separatists: ‘nips’.
Sussex-based founder Philip Proudfoot will not be the first to risk making a tit of himself in politics. But the nickname evokes more than the mammary; it is also an archaic slur for a Japanese person, derived from the native name for Japan, Nippon.
Although the term is rarely used these days, the republic of Northumbria will surely not want to risk any offence from the land of the rising sun. An alternative must be found.
Happily, another option already in use echoes the recent successful campaign to extract Britain from the European yoke. Just as Ukip had its own fishy nickname in ‘kipper’, the NIP could surely call to mind the alleged Corbynite youthquake with ‘nipper’.
The only drawback is that nipper has an unfortunate derivation linked to the kind of pickpockets seen in Oliver Twist. Then again, for a socialist party a word that once meant someone “who ‘pinches’ other people’s property” may be all the more apt.