Westminster political speeches from 1803-2005 go online

Parliament speeches from over 200 years are now online. Picture: PA
Parliament speeches from over 200 years are now online. Picture: PA
Share this article
0
Have your say

IAN Paisley, the firebrand former Democrat Unionist Party leader boomed out “carpets” more often than God in the Westminster parliament while Dennis Skinner, the Labour MP famed for his tenacious attitude was the MP who was told to “shut up” the most, according to a website launched by Scottish linguistic and history experts.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow compiled all the Westminster Parliamentary speeches from 1803-2005.

Picture: Hansard

Picture: Hansard

The website , includes 7.6 million speeches and 1.6 billion words and reveals words favoured by politicians as well as include some of Westminster’s most memorable moments.

It includes all the best known speeches including Sir Winston Churchill’s many wartime addresses to parliament, Geoffrey Howe’s resignation speech attacking Margaret Thatcher and Dennis Healey’s famous riposte to Howe’s verbal assault, likening it to “being savaged by a dead sheep”.

Margaret Thatcher’s top five keywords included “resource” and “negotiation”. Other favourites were “strike”, “wage” and “productivity”. In comparison Tony Blair’s favoured “troop”, “euro”, “summit”, and “pensioner”.

Mr Paisley’s “carpets” appear 18 times – “sweeping the province under the carpet” and “the red carpet was put out in Dublin, but Belfast did not.”

No-one can possibly read all 1.6 billion words, so what our team has done is develop all sorts of new ways of digging into that information and letting people search for it.

Marc Alexander

Commenting on yesterday’s launch Dr Marc Alexander, director of historical thesaurus of English, at the university, said: “This launch is part of our Samuels project to look at the meanings of huge collections of text and lets us really uncover the ways MPs and Lords speak in parliament and what they discuss. No-one can possibly read all 1.6 billion words, so what our team has done is develop all sorts of new ways of digging into that information and letting people search for it.

“It’s being launched today, 5 November, the 410th anniversary of the day Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament – but we’re hoping to open up parliament in a rather different way.”

The words “James Bond” appear 132 times starting in 1962, twice as often as Dracula at 66 – although both are beaten by 332 mentions of Frankenstein, 278 of Mickey Mouse, and 207 of Sherlock Holmes.

Sex gets 23,000 mentions, twice as many as cigarettes at 10,556. Shakespeare clocks up 5,938 times, while Robert Burns is mentioned 428 times.