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the party line
The agenda, policy, or ideology of a particular political party. Often used in the plural. Senators are expected to vote along party lines on the new tax proposals. The MP has been publicly upbraided by the prime minister for going against the party line on the issue of immigration reform.
Fig. the official ideas and attitudes that are adopted by the leaders of a particular group and that the other members are expected to accept. Tom has left the club. He refused to follow the party line. Many politicians agree with the party line without thinking.
The official policy of an organization or government, as in The current party line opposes legalized abortion in all cases. This term, dating from about 1830, was originally used for a political party's official policy but in the mid-1900s was almost exclusively applied to the rigid dicta of the Soviet Communist Party. Since then it has returned to looser use.
party line, the
The official policy of a government, corporation, or organization. Although the term was used in the nineteenth century for the official policy of a political party—it was coined in the United States in the 1830s—it came into more general use in the mid-twentieth century, when it was applied particularly to the rigid dicta of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, as well as to numerous other kinds of organization. Milovan Djilas, a Yugoslav dissident, is quoted as saying, “The Party line is that there is no Party line” (by Fitzroy Maclean, The Heretic, 1957). Nowadays the term is used much more loosely, as in, “The college’s party line includes affirmative action in the admissions process.”
See also: party
Communal telephone service. In the early days of telephone service, two or more households shared a circuit to the same central switchboard at the phone company. The operator would alert the recipient of an incoming call by a distinctive ring (say, two longs and a short), which distinguished that party from others in the line. “Shared service” meant just that. Since only one call at a time could be made or received, hogging the line led to bad feelings and sometimes bad language from other households who wanted to use the phone. Another problem was eavesdropping, the premise of the classic movie comedy Pillow Talk.