LETTER : How to pick the winners by name

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The Independent Online
Sir: With this election remarkable for lack of clear blue water between the two main parties and lack of clear blue touch-paper to ignite popular interest, voters might take a diversionary interest in that largely overlooked aspect, the frequency of the names of candidates.

First, they might provide us with good reason not to vote for some candidates. Most of the party leaders are loners, and do we really want loners? There is only one Major and one Ashdown though there are two Blairs. What future can these names have when faced with the 38 Smiths, the 30 Joneses, the 25 Brown(e)s, the 24 Williamses, the 20 Clark(e)s and the 19 Taylors?

And "big names" such as these have significant advantages over parties. They don't form restrictive cabals and they are untainted by the search for election funding.

The table shows just how valuable a vote for a "name" can be, if you are fortunate enough to have one standing in your constituency. Look how representative some of the names are, in gender terms, and in terms of their personal values as measured by their membership of parties.

Not all perform well on all counts. The Joneses are excellent on gender, with women as 30 per cent of candidates. The Smiths, Williamses and Taylors all achieve more than 20 per cent of women. The Browns, on the other hand, display abnormally high sexism, with only 1 of their 25 candidates a woman.

Overall it is to the Taylors that we must look for best name at this election. They score 21 per cent of women and they are evenly spread in terms of party affiliation. By contrast, the Smiths and Browns are clearly over-representing minor parties, and the Clark(e)s have a real problem attracting Conservatives and Lib Dems.

The Taylors are also to be admired for their modest and reasonable ambition. Whereas the Joneses are seeking to increase their representation in the House of Commons from 8 to 30, the Smiths from only 6 to a massive 38 and the Williamses from a meagre 2 to an outrageous 24, the Taylors are going for steadier growth from their present 6 MPs to a maximum of 19.

The only blot is evidence of some infighting. There are two Taylors head- to-head in two different constituencies. However, the Williamses are fighting each other in three constituencies. The Clark(e)s are the name to be admired here, with 20 of them fighting in 20 different constituencies.


Alva, Central Scotland

Name Men Women Con Lab L-D other

Smith 29 9 (24%) 5 10 8 15

Jones 21 9 (30%) 4 10 9 7

Brown(e) 24 1 (4%) 2 5 6 12

Williams 18 6 (25%) 3 7 8 6

Clark(e) 17 3 (15%) 4 8 2 6

Taylor 15 4 (21%) 5 5 5 4