Aristotle Beyond the Academy

A navvy gravvy of Aristotle

When Tory minister Michael Tomlinson appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on 17 January 2024, he set out to defend the government's controversial Rwanda policy with gusto.

Was there conflict within his own party over the scheme, he was asked? Only on minute detail: "That’s the difference, the navvy gravvy, the inch of difference between us on the Conservative benches . . . the navvy gravvy of difference is of emphasis, of nuance”.

Thankfully, Aristotle Beyond's own Prof Edith Hall was on hand to translate, in an article for the FT; "navvy gravvy", it turns out, means "a slim shaving", or not very much.

Hall continues:

Aristotle’s Art of Rhetoric recommends the use of homely phrases to set citizen audiences at their ease — sparingly. But Aristotle sensibly insists that colloquialisms be generally familiar, which “navvy gravvy” certainly is not.

What Aristotle would have to say about inhuman and unworkable immigration policy, is another matter entirely.

Durham UniversityDurham University Centre for Classical ReceptionLeverhulme Trust