Chris Brooke has an informative history of the currently modish phrase swivel eyed loon. It seems that the phrase swivel eyed was current in the eighties and used against persons on the Left. It was only when it became married to the word loon that the phrase as a whole began to be applied to the Europhobic Right and to John Redwood in particular (whose eyes do, in fact, swivel), and now, thanks to a still unconfirmed personage close to the government, to Conservative Party activists tout court. And of course, Anthony Wells managed to nail the phrase specifically to the kippers with a famous googlebomb in 2004. Chris adds:
As Hegel presumably remarks somewhere, all great Tory crises appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as farce, the second as farce.
I’d say it’s more ‘the first time as farce, the second time as panto’ in the sense that the term is used to encompass a lot more people these days; enough to fill halls in provincial towns all over Engand. The phrase may even have a Spartacus effect, with people popping up all over the place declaring ‘I am a swivel-eyed loon!’
So its interesting that Lord Feldman, named as the source who dropped the latest loon bomb, is supposed to be considering libel action. It would be a fascinating test case. Do ‘right minded people in society’ in the consideration of a judge, consider the term ‘swivel eyed loons’ to be libellous or fair comment when applied to Conservative Party activists?