Name Recognition

What to make of this picture? I can only identify about half of two-dozen people running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Worse, the election is still almost a year and a half away. What a bore. Who wants to learn about all these people, most of whom will turn out to be of no importance whatever? Some will get second tier cabinet positions though a few will become prominent figures on cable news.

Worse, in the “be-kind-in-the-sandbox” era, it is not even America’s turn. Great Britain is about a month away from the selection of a Prime Minister and surely those candidates deserve some attention before their also-rans disappear from view. Of course this “taking turns” idea runs counter to the first law of politicians: “if attention is on offer, it is always my turn.”

Figuring out the names of the candidates for Conservative Party Leader and thus Prime Minister has nothing to do with drivel like making the Democratic “Debate Stage” or number of donors or poll rankings. You simply go to a betting website and there they all are ranked by odds of winning as set by real people putting up real money. There are more than 80 of them who have attracted at least some backing.

Plus — get this — they don’t even have an election. They already did that for Theresa May even though she got turfed out for fumbling Brexit. The Tories have the majority (well, kinda) so they pick the P.M. Done and dusted. I bet the mental health statistics in London are way better than in New York. Washington need not apply.

Pop quiz: tell me anything you know about Steve Baker, Mark Harper or David Davis. I can’t either. If you’d prefer a female candidate, how about Ruth Davidson, Justine Greening or Caroline Lucas? Yup, another blank for me there too.  All are middle-of-the-pack candidates.

We need a better way to choose the Prime Minister or at least an excuse to get worked up if our preferred candidate is not chosen.  After all the recent political turmoil pretty much everywhere, it seems to me the most important factor to consider is how comforting the candidate is. Soothing even. Better still would the candidate and the spouse calm the waters?

We haven’t the slightest notion of what a candidate might do as Prime Minister because whatever they do will bear little resemblance to whatever they say they will do. Let’s just use what we do know and choose the most comforting and soothing pair to move into Number 10 Downing Street.

What we do know is that name recognition is always important in politics and that POSH names are comforting, especially names that don’t sound like Beto or Joe or Donald.

By far the POSHest name in the race has to be Lord Bridges of Headley though his odds are barely better than Bim Afolami whose name does not sound at all POSH.

Before continuing the selection process, we have to address the need to behave like grownups. No teenage humor in this story. Neither shall there be snickering. Three of the candidates are named Geoffrey Cox, Liz Truss and Ed Balls. Scatological humor will not be tolerated. Nor will there be any further references to Mathew Hancock or either Johnson (Boris or Jo). Well, at least that’s behind us.

Here are some real pairs of candidates for Prime Minister and spouse. Either one can be placed in either role because (a) I am devoid of knowledge about any of them and (b) I’d otherwise get called sexist. Remember all that matters is feeling calm.

  • Andrea Leadsom and David Lidington
  • James Cleverly and Rebecca Long-Bailey
  • Nigel Farage and Priti Patel
  • Gavin Williamson and Emily Thornberry
  • James Brokenshire and Stella Creasy

What could go wrong with any of these pairs but are we sufficiently soothed? Does the best candidate have to have a comforting first name and a soothing last name? No, I say. Since we know nothing about any of them, we could match comforting first names with other people’s soothing last names, bearing always in mind that most splendid of British customs: hyphens.

And the candidates are….

  • Boris and Priti Cleverly-Leadsom
  • Piers and Amber Thornberry-Brokenshire
  • Dominic and Caroline Long-Bailey
  • Rory and Yvette Gwynn-Grayling
  • Andrea and Damian Tugendhat
  • Penny and Clive Miliband-Miliband (there are two real brothers in the hunt)
  • Justine and Nigel Crabb-Mordaunt (could also be an expensive appetizer)
  • Jeremy and Emily Lidington
  • Rebecca and Liam Rees-Moog.

Any of these pairs would be soothing and comforting enough to make Brexit sail though well before the October 31 deadline so attention could once again be focused on the American candidates for the spotlight who rarely play nice in the sandbox.

Uh oh, a flaw is discovered in the plan. Theresa and Philip May are not exactly nettlesome names.



4 Responses to “Name Recognition”

GARRARD GLENN, June 02, 2019 at 3:32 pm said:

The Crabb-Mordaunts are descended from an ancient line of crab fishermen who crabed for centuries off the coast of Brighton. Crabb- Mordaunt in olde English means crab killer. It is interesting to note that the now expired American olympic swimmer and actor Buster Crabbe was heir to the olde “Castle Crabb” which was situated slightly inland from Brighton, and for many centuries housed the local crabing Crabbs.
Crabbe once investigated his seigneurial right to the castle, but was met with a hostile and what can only be described as a crabby attitude from the local British Crabbs, and he accordingly retired his claims.
The old castle crumbled over the centuries but enjoyed after its much reduced state a refurbishing and reinvention as a U.S. Chick-Fil-A store, which purveys its famous chicken sandwiches to a ravenous local populace. In honor of its the castle’s long and eminent history, a crab cake has been planned as an eventual addition to the menu, though the local crab population was long ago decimated via over-fishing, so the crabs for the crab cake will be imported from Burkina Faso, a small African state on the West Coast of Africa where the crabing industry is dominated by the family of Roch Marc Christian Kabore, the president of Burkina Faso, who seized the business after the demise of the longstanding president of Burkina Fasso, Blaise Campaore.


Haven Pell, June 02, 2019 at 8:10 pm said:

I was following your logic and trusting your exemplary sourcing until I discovered … a map.
Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa. It covers an area of around 274,200 square kilometres and is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north; Niger to the east; Benin to the southeast; Togo and Ghana to the south; and Ivory Coast to the southwest.

Unless you have invested a new kind of Crabbe, a big chunk of your comment has to go into the fake news category.


Russell Seitz, June 02, 2019 at 6:25 pm said:

Missing from Haven’s list is a chap who came to Harvard to lecture on human righs in 2009. and served on the board of Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

From what I saw of him over here,when he was about Pitt the Younger’s age, I think he’d make an interesting PM over there.


Haven Pell, June 02, 2019 at 8:03 pm said:

Rory Stewart. Recharacterized as Rory and Yvette Gwynn-Graling. You can’t leave out a name like that. I have read both his Iraq and Pakistan books and he seems terrific. I agree with you. an Interesting choice.


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