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Worst election jargon of the week: Triple lock

To mark election season, City A.M.’s jargon resistance fighters are taking on the realm of politics. This week: the triple lock.

What does it mean?

Desperation. Pure and simple. Your politician has lost your attention and they are willing to yield as many padlocks as it will take to get it back.

Who uses it?

The term was initially introduced in 2010 to describe the Tories love-in with pensioners (when David Cameron pledged that state pensions would annually rise either to match the rate of inflation, average earnings or 2.5 per cent – whichever is highest) but has since taken on a life of its own. Triple lock this and double dare that, politicians now bandy round the term like schoolchildren who have just learned their times tables.


Just last week the Labour Party confused the term with the simple concept of ‘three’, promising a ‘triple lock’ on tax (with the pledge not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT) along with a ‘triple lock’ on the nuclear deterrent, meaning who knows what. Tripled with a further commitment to maintain the triple lock on pensions, the party has succeeded in pledging a triple lock of triple locks in a triple annoying move.

BUT it does not stop. Not to be beaten, the Tories have updated their own pension triple lock to, we kid you not, the ‘quadruple lock’ or ‘triple lock plus’. Lord, have mercy.

Could be confused with…

  • A pinky promise

  • The home security system of a poor paranoia-stricken soul

Should we be worried?

Undoubtedly. Locks and keys make pretty symbols and rhetorical flourishes, but they must be used sparingly if we wish to preserve their meaning. At the current rate, our political system is doomed to the same fate as Paris’ Pont Des Arts lovelock bridge, which eventually collapsed under the weight of its unkept pledges.

Political ick rating: 9/10

Triple lock ban it.