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Whipping up a storm.

A woman lost a tribunal case recently. Her boss, when giving a motivational talk to the team, had used the phrase to crack the whip and the employee accused her of racism. The ruling however was that the term was not derived from the exploitative slave / slave master relationship, but from managing horses. The whip hand is the hand the horseman holds the whip in and, by extrapolation, can also refer to a person who has an advantage or dominance over another. Both phrases have since been used in other contexts, including sexual.

A whipper-in is someone employed by huntsmen to manage the hounds, and no doubt in the past whips were used liberally on the dogs. In one part of Britain where I used to live, whipper-in was also the informal name given to the council worker employed to chase up truants and get them to go to school (and I am confident that during my time working in the same area no whips were actually used on any children).

Cartoon re the parliamentary three line whip

In the UK parliament the whips perform a similar role to horse handlers and whippers-in with regard to the members of parliament for their respective parties. I am just reading the memoirs of Alan Johnson and have reached the section when he first becomes an MP. He describes receiving the weekly ‘Whip’ – the document that sets out the workload for parliament for the following week. If a proposed bill etc. only had one line under it he could vote as he wished. Two lines meant that the party leader expected him to vote along party lines, but if he was unhappy with this he could arrange with a member of the other main party for them both to be off so their two (non) votes would cancel each other out. THREE under-linings however meant that he should appear in person and vote as the party leader directed. Failure to do so would result in dire threats from the whips and possible expulsion from the party. I had often wondered how the term three line whip had come about when hearing it mentioned on the news. Now I know.

A whip-round is an impromptu collection of money, often in an office setting for someone’s leaving present, or the like. In theory contributions are voluntary – though woe-betide the skinflint who refuses!

The word whip probably comes from thirteenth century Middle Dutch wippen (to swing) or wipfen (dance)

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Inteachán – Book Five: The Tallest Tower Crane 5: ...
Silverado (1985)
 

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