Turkeys voting for Christmas

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Turkeys voting for Christmas (British English; American English: turkeys voting for Thanksgiving[1]) is an idiom used as a metaphor or simile (in the construct "like turkeys voting for Christmas") in reference to a suicidal ("death-wish"[2]) political act, especially a vote.

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations writes that a commentator in the Independent Magazine traced the origin of the phrase to David Penhaligon, [2] who is quoted as saying: "Us voting for the Pact is like a turkey voting for Christmas" in reference to the Lib-Lab Pact.[3]

The phrase was soon borrowed by other politicians and public figures.[2] In particular, British MP Teresa Gorman was awarded by the French[who?][specify] with a "foreign political humour prize"[2] for the phrase "If the House of Commons voted for Maastricht it would be like 651 turkeys voting for Christmas."[4][dead link] When confronted over time spent on luxury by United Kingdom Independence Party MEPs, Nigel Farage responded by saying that "we are the turkeys that would vote for Christmas".[5]


  1. ^ "Fixed expressions and idioms in English: a corpus-based approach", by Rosamund Moon p. 133
  2. ^ a b c d "Oxford dictionary of humorous quotations", by Ned Sherrin, Oxford University Press, Edition 4, 2008, ISBN 0-19-923716-6, "Introduction to the first edition"
  3. ^ The pact: the inside story of the Lib-Lab government, 1977-8, by Alistair Michie, Simon Hoggart, Quartet Books, 1978, p. 156
  4. ^ "Billericay: The Dame who didn't give a damn...", Daily Gazette, 18th February 2000
  5. ^ "Question Time with Nigel Farage, Grant Shapps, Chuka Umunna, Shirley Williams and Caroline Lucas - #bbcqt: Live".