Spivwatch: They infiltrated the Express long ago

Hilarious footnotes on today’s Express front page, which suggested that Britain needs saving from the spivs of the Square Mile.

The source is MailWatch, which organizes its content into the following excellent categories: “Ban This NOW”; “Cancer”, “Diana”, and “Johnny Foreigner” (among others).

They’ve really excelled themselves in the hypocrisy stakes this time. Express journalists are all spivs. They contributed to this collapse with their constant ramping of property and their attempts to pump up the house price bubble even more.

And this:

Would this be the same spivs who manipulated the system through the mortgage market, artificially increasing the value of houses, which used to be A Very Good Thing in Expressland?

Now that our collective financial clock has been wound back to the 1940s, the re-emergence of “spiv” as a term of abuse feels appropriate. Alex Salmond used the expression this afternoon in an attack on the investors who drove down HBOS’s share price this week.

No-one knows where the word originates. One suggestion is that it was coined by spelling “VIPs” backwards. Another is that it’s an acronym used correctly. Apparently, the police once pursued Suspected Persons and Itinerant Vagrants on the streets of this pleasant land.

“Spiv” was also the Romany expression for sparrow. As the Cassell Dictionary Of Slang notes, the word was was used to describe anyone who made a living “by picking up the leavings of their betters, criminal or legitimate”.

All three sound perfectly fitting under the current circumstances.

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