Here’s one reason ‘Clean for the Queen’ isn’t gaining traction

The campaign to make poor people clean up the country – unpaid – in time for the Queen’s 90th birthday isn’t very popular at the moment.

This Blog has already explained why.

Now the campaign seems to have worsened its own situation with a poster that uses a racist slur:


Oh, bad show!

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47 thoughts on “Here’s one reason ‘Clean for the Queen’ isn’t gaining traction

  1. John Thurman

    what’s funny is it was nutty george who made a deal with parliament because he had loads of debt and stuff but that agreement still stands today and it was. look pay off my debts and you can have the rent off my lands. however he wasn’t that loopy. he kept the ownership that the queen still has to this day. if parliament ever said to the queen we ain’t giving you no more cash, she would be perfectly within her rights and the law to say ok i will just have the rent on my stuff, last time i had a look this is about £250 million a year plus the rest. clean up for the queen. there’s a motive and it aint as silly as it looks

      1. Tony Dean

        Other than a spelling mistake I can’t see a racist slur. It should be Spick and Span.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        ‘Tisn’t, though, is it?
        It’s “spic”, which – to my certain knowledge – IS a racist term.

      3. Barry Davies

        Spic is only a racist term if you believe that there are different races of human beings, rather than one human race, the correct term is bigotry, the term racist is divisive and should not be used, unless you have fascist tendencies like the current tory government.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        You’ve said this before, Barry, but really you’re just splitting hairs to get people out of being labelled with the more derogatory term.
        It’s racist.

      5. Barry Davies

        I think that people would be more concerned about being called by the correct term, which is bigot Mike, but each to his own the use of the accusation racist like sexist has become one used when an argument has been lost as with the old mentally challenged titular idiot, moron, etc words.

      6. Mike Sivier Post author

        Alternatively, some people like you would prefer to correct others – where no correction is needed – in order to impose their own terms of reference on a debate.
        No, thank you.
        This correspondence is closed.

    1. Burrito

      I don’t like the Clean for the Queen campaign, but I agree, this is not a slur in context. And I think most British people wouldn’t even know what “spic” refers to *in* context without having to go look it up.

      E for effort.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        You have a very low opinion of most British people, then.

        I don’t think Huw needs to accept your opinion.

    2. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

      Her you go Huw – definition of “spic”;

      Urban Dictionary: spic

      A highly offensive term referring in a derogatory manner to a Hispanic person, i.e. born or descendant of natives of Spain and/or any Spanish-speaking country or territory in Central America, South America or the Caribbean. … A derogatory comment towards people of hispanic decent.

  2. TomMagenta

    For those who can’t see the slur, “spic” is American racial slang for Hispanic people.

    Though this seems more like an unfortunate typo than anything intentionally malicious.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      My source did suggest it was unintended but, lacking any proof either way, I could not include that in the article, in good faith.

  3. Ian Marson

    Racial slur?
    Not at all!
    Disappointed that you didn’t bother to check out the origins of the phrase. The ‘spic’, in the poster is, at worst, an unfortunate spelling mistake but has nothing whatsoever to do with people of Hispanic origin. Quoting it as such is on a par with recent distortions of Corbyn’s quotes.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      As I’ve already cleared up this question in response to others, it only remains for me to record my disappointment that you didn’t bother to check what is the generally-understood meaning of that word.
      Oh, and I did, in fact, check.

  4. Catherine Cooper

    I can’t see it either. I didn’t join in this political nonsense! Wiltshire council made our only street cleaner redundant, after many years, just a few months ago!

  5. tanja

    The use of spic in that product name is just an alternative spelling of spick. This has no connection to spic as used for the offensive term for Spanish-speaking American residents, also called spiggoties or spigs. That term originated in the early 20th-century and is cited in Harry Franck’s Zone Policeman, 1913:

    “It was my first entrance into the land of the panameños, technically known on the Zone as ‘Spigoties’, and familiarly, with a tinge of despite, as ‘Spigs’.”

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      As you’ll have read in my responses to other comments – and, unless you’ve lived a very sheltered life, may know from experience, the racist word is by far the more recognised interpretation.
      Before you come back with a counter argument, bear in mind that this is intended to be a mass-market poster intended to popularize a nationwide initiative – not an exercise in knowledge of obscure meanings of words.

  6. Andrea Gilbert

    If you’re talking about the usage of ‘spic’ it is not derogatory in this sense – it comes from old English, probably even Norse.

    “Quite and entirely new. A spic is a spike or nail, and a span is a chip. So that a spick and span ship is one in which every nail and chip is new. The more common expression today is spick and span, meaning all neat, clean, bright, and tidy.”

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Well, you learn something new every day.
      However, since it’s unlikely that many people DID know it – and also since you reverted to the normally-recognised spelling with “spicK and span ship” – while the racial slur is likely to be instantly recognisable to many more people, I don’t think your argument is enough to defeat the point of the article.

  7. Pamela Stocks

    Let me see … Her govt. have taken away the money I could have used to clean my house (as a disabled and sick person who cannot manage this for myself). How about she comes round and cleans for me then?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      On Maundy Thursday you could get her to wash your feet, if I recall correctly.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        The bit about it going to the rich doesn’t appear in any description of the custom.
        I notice the foot-washing died out in the 18th century. What a shame. Perhaps if it was revived, our royals might rekindle a relationship with their subjects.

  8. Anrki

    Spic us an old slang term for native Spanish speakers in Latin America and the Caribbean. Spruce also comes from an old term for a Prussian, noted for tidy appearance.
    Spick on the other hand is clean and neat dwelling.
    So who normally does the cleaning for these people?

  9. GC

    I have no time for the Queen, but please correct your comment, is it wrong.


    “It appears to be a combination of two terms that mean new. Span came from Old Norse and spick came from Dutch.

    ORIGIN late 16th cent. (in the sense ‘brand new’): from spick and span new, emphatic extension of dialect span new, from Old Norse spán-nýr, from spánn ‘chip’ + nýr ‘new’; spick influenced by Dutch spiksplinternieuw, literally ‘splinter new.’

    New Oxford American Dictionary – Mac Dictionary App

    The derogatory term is much more recent.

    ORIGIN early 20th cent.: abbreviation of US slang spiggoty, in the same sense, of uncertain origin: perhaps an alteration of speak the in ‘no speak the English.’

    New Oxford American Dictionary – Mac Dictionary App”

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I think you need to check YOUR spelling against the poster’s.
      In any case, this isn’t about the Queen, but the people who have started, and support, this exploitative campaign.

  10. mohandeer

    It doesn’t help their cause much that the staff at Buckingham Palace are on zero hours contracts. All the money and wealth she and her family have and she still sponges off the state and treats her staff like “rubbish”.

  11. foggy

    As this ‘clean for the queen’ is being endorsed by the Conservatives, can I politely suggest that if anyone notices any litter that they immediately inform their Tory Councillor and/or Tory MP, hold them to their Partys’ endorsement and ask them to come and personally remove it ASAP 🙂

  12. Michael Broadhurst

    let Ian Dumkopft Smith,gormless Gove,goon Grayling and and the biggest non attendee in Parliament,the lazy,idle Priti Awful,clean for the Queen.
    getting their hands dirty will be a new experience for them.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      This is the latest of several comments from Mr Broadhurst, demanding to know why his comments are being blocked – presumably simply because I haven’t got round to moderating them yet.
      He is not a new reader of the blog and therefore knows that sometimes I can fall a little behind with comment moderation, due to the high number of comments and the low number of people working on the site (me).
      He also knows that I take an extremely dim view of people who try to needle me into giving them special priority on the moderation queue by demanding to know what has happened to their comments or claiming that they are being blocked when no such action has been taken. If I block somebody, I tell them.
      Mr Broadhurst: Your comments are now at the back of the queue and will wait there as long as it takes for me to get to them.
      Please do not – ever – try to push me into giving you special attention again, or you WILL be blocked from commenting.

  13. Michael Broadhurst

    hey Mike i wasn’t demanding special attention,but it made me wonder that i’d made this
    particular comment three times on this subject and none have appeared,so you cant blame me for thinking that.where as i’ve made comments on other subjects and they HAVE been posted.
    i wasn’t trying to needle you as i admire everything you do,attacking and shaming this appalling Government and there’s no mileage in people with the same aims falling out.
    i apologise if you think i was seeking special attention,which i assure you i was not,but having posted the same comment over several days,it did make me think.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Okay. Just, please, don’t get on my case about comments. All you’re doing is adding another comment to the backlog.

  14. David

    Spick and span = neat, bright and tidy. Spic = a derogatory term for one of Hispanic descent. If the perpetrators of “SPIC’ are seriously insulting Hispanics, then there’s grounds for a court case. But if it’s just a spelling mistake, which they’ll doubtless claim it to be, it makes one think about the level of education among our patriots.

    There used to be a song: “We’ll make old Lady Astor scrub the steps of Transport House”, etc. Now that would have been proper cleaning.

Comments are closed.