Headlines: 'Blears jumps ship as Labour sinks'

Today's thelondonpaper has an interesting front page headline:

Blears jumps ship as Labour sinks

This is, of course, referring to Hazel Blears' resignation as communities secretary.

However I've always thought that someone who 'jumps ship' doesn't just leave one ship but joins another (metaphorically speaking).

To an extent, the Cambridge Idioms Dictionary (2nd Edition) agrees with me, saying:

if you jump ship, you leave a job or activity suddenly before it is finished, especially to go and work for someone else

So before reading the full story, I took thelondonpaper's headline to mean that Blears had jumped one ship (the Labour Party) to join another (probably the Conservative Party). I was, obviously, wrong.

And if you consider the literal meaning of 'to jump ship' - "to leave a ship without permission while it is temporarily in a port in the middle of a trip" (Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms) - there's no reason to involve a second 'ship'.

So why do I feel like it was a bad choice of headline?

Sinking Ship, Harwich


Gareth said...

It's a mixture of two phrases, isn't it? That's why it seems odd. You've got "to jump ship", as you say, but they're also trying to get a reference to "rats leaving a sinking ship". With only six words to play with, they've ended up with a bit of a mish-mash.

JD (The Engine Room) said...

You're right, of course; it's a mixed metaphor that doesn't quite work.

Blears is jumping ship and Labour is sinking, so is Labour the ship that Blears is jumping? Er, no.

But at least that explains why I initally took the headline to mean that Blears had left the Labour Party.

Apus said...

Coincidentally someone on the TV comedy news quiz 'Have I got news for you' remarked on a newspaper story that La Blears had "jumped ship before the wheels fell off", and mixed metaphors don't come much better than that.

Assuming the writer wasn't likening the imploding 'Labour' government to a DUKW, of course.