Legend has it that rats will abandon a sinking ship. This cartoon by Andy Davey in The Sun uses that idea as a metaphor for the spate of resignations by Labour MPs ahead of Gordon Brown's cabinet reshuffle (see previous post). Also contained in the cartoon is the idea that a captain should go down with his ship—which is what Gordon Brown seems determined to do by refusing to stand down, despite the succession of disasters his government has suffered.
1. If you call someone a rat, you mean that you are angry with them or dislike them, often because they have cheated you or betrayed you. Many people regard MP as rats following the expenses scandal.
2. Do rats really abandon a sinking ship? This article suggests the legend may have some basis in fact.
3. H.M.S. stands for Her Majesty's Ship, the prefix used for ships in the Royal Navy.
4. "New Labour" as a name has no official status but remains in common use to distinguish modernisers (such as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) from those holding to more traditional positions, who normally are referred to as "Old Labour".
5. The letters 'ER' on the MPs' red briefcases stand for Elizabeth Regina. It is the mark of the current Queen Elizabeth II. (Regina means "queen" in Latin.)
6. The Daily Express uses the "rats" metaphor on today's front page.