The top ten: Politicians who rejected their first names
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at King's College, London, and at Queen Mary University of London. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 09 June 2013
An outbreak of Nigels last month – Lawson and Farage – causing trouble for the Prime Minister about Europe reminded me that Nigel is also the first name of Keith Vaz, the Labour MP who joined the fun by demanding a referendum. At which point, Philip Cowley, professor of parliamentary government at Nottingham University, suggested compiling a list of politicians known by their middle names.
1. Ramsay MacDonald
...whose first name was actually James. Also, six other PMs since: Arthur Neville Chamberlain, Robert Anthony Eden, Maurice Harold Macmillan, James Harold Wilson, Leonard James Callaghan and James Gordon Brown. Thanks to Allan Draycott.
2. Boris Johnson
...whose full name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, so you can call him Al.
3. Zac Goldsmith
4. Vince Cable
John. With thanks to Matt Chorley.
5. Paddy Ashdown
Jeremy John Durham Ashdown acquired the name Paddy when he moved to Bedford School from Northern Ireland when he was 11.
6. Enoch Powell
John, again. Nominated by Prof Cowley.
7. Nick Raynsford
Which MP's first names are Wyvill Richard Nicolls, asked former Labour MP Tony McNulty. The answer is the minister for London in Tony Blair's government.
8. Mitt Romney
...who is a Willard, after Willard Marriott, family friend and founder of the hotel chain.
9. Barbara Follett
Daphne. Nominated by Ken Penton and the only woman I can find: a minister in Gordon Brown's government and married to Ken, the thriller writer.
10. Keir Hardie
Another James. Nominated by Kerry McCarthy MP.
Next week: The top 10 useful words for which there is no English equivalent. Send your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to email@example.com
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