You know what an “Indian summer” is, I presume, though it’s a phrase I would avoid using (and one that isn’t used as much these days): A bit of fall that is recidivistically warm – which is to say, a few days that might make you think summer isn’t over yet, though it is. Well, have you heard of a “Tory spring”?
Perhaps I should first explain the term Tory. People outside of Canada and England may only know it as a name for a girl, but in Canada and England it’s a term used for the Conservative Party and its members. It comes from an old Gaelic word having to do with pursuit, tóraidhe, which came to mean ‘outlaw’. In the 17th century it referred to dispossessed Irish who raided and plundered English settlers. From this it came to be applied – opprobriously at first – to a set of English politicians who opposed the exclusion of James, Duke of York, a Roman Catholic, from succession to the English throne. Eventually the set of people called Tories came to be general conservative monarchists. And so now it names the Conservatives, the party that generally favours maintaining “traditional” social and economic order and not extending liberties beyond what it sees as necessary (except, often, for liberties for those who already have much to get more).
So what is a Tory spring? It’s when a bit of winter pursues into spring and plunders it. It’s a bit of the thawing season that doesn’t see why things should change so briskly. In short, it’s a period in what should be spring that is rather annoyingly cold and not verdant enough at all. When flowers want to blossom with colour and people want to throw off their clothes (at least some of them) and the snow is draining away and the hard earth is softening, a Tory spring is a few days where the weather says “Hey! Not so fast!” It may even dump some snow to push its point.
Surely you’ve heard this term before. No? OK, well, that’s because it’s a new old word. I’ve invented it because we needed it. No need to take it as political commentary… just filling a yawning lexical gap.