Your information about his army rank may be different from that quoted by Beastrabban, but don’t let that bother you – the snollygoster in question doesn’t, after all.
I’ve been going through dictionaries of slang, turning up words and turns of phrase that describe the current head of the DWP, and minister in charge of culling the unemployed, sick and disabled. One of them is ‘Gentleman Ranker’, a 19th century term which described a broken gentleman, who was forced to serve as a private soldier. One of the rumours going around about IDS is that, contrary to his claim to have been an army major, he flunked the course at Sandhurst and was RTU’ed – returned to unit.
I found a few more terms that could be imported over here to describe this least honourable of Honourable Gentlemen. These are:
‘Coattail politician: One who depends on the favour of a more successful political figure.’
‘Snollygoster’: The book defines this as
A tadpole; a pretentious boaster; a political shyster. The Dictionary of Americanisms quotes “a Georgia editor” as defining snollygoster as “a pretentious boaster” and a “fellow who wants office, regardless of party, platform or principle, and who, whenever he wins, gets there by the sheer force of monumental talknophical assumnacy.”
Whatever “talknophical assumnacy” is, deponent knoweth not.
The article ends by stating that the term originated as a colloquial word in the south for a tadpole.
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