Farewell to UKIP’s Dick Braine and the ministry of silly names
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STEVE ANGLESEY on the funniest names to enter the Houses of Parliament.
So farewell then, Dick Braine. The former UKIP leader, most famous for the Sun headline "Don't Call Me Dick Braine, Says Dick Braine", has stepped down after a bit of unpleasantness involving the party's database and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.
As the 'Kippers ponder who to appoint as the next captain of the Titanic, our hopes rest with 2015 UKIP council candidates Wayne Kerr (Barnsley Wombwell) and Mike Hunt (Braintree). Because whatever vileness Dick Braine might have brought to politics - no-one should forget his nudge-nudge misspelling of the London mayor's name as 'Siddique Khan' ("I often confuse him with the leader of the 7/7 bombers") - it did feel refreshingly honest to find one Dick Braine leading a party of them. To achieve the same effect, the Brexit Party would need a leader called Doug Whistler.
In these days of taking back control and making Britain great again, it's somewhat ironic that Dick Braine's departure leaves our nation seriously lagging behind others when it comes to semi-obscure politicians with funny names. The Americans continue to lead, thanks to the likes of Indiana's Republican state senator Randy Head, New Hampshire Democrat Dick Swett and recent New York attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout, while emerging pacesetters include the Netherlands (via former senate leader Tiny Kox) and South Africa (respect is due to ex-housing minister Tokyo Sexwale).
But what of Blighty? With Dick Braine joining Nutty Nuttall and Batty Batten in the dustbin of UKIP history, Ed Balls lost to the media and Mark Reckless hiding out in the Welsh assembly, where are the daft names to provide momentary mirth in a political landscape of mendacious madness?
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It wasn't always like this. At one point, rather than just total bastards, the Commons contained actual Bastards. In the late 18th century, brothers Edmund Bastard and John Pollexfen Bastard were the MPs for Dartmouth and Devonshire respectively, before being succeeded by Edmund's sons John Bastard and Edmund Pollexfen Bastard.
These young Bastards served alongside the likes of Abel Ram (MP for Co. Wexford) and Coulson Wallop (Andover), names to rank alongside those of Bassingbourne Gawdy (Thetford) and Sir Thomas Posthumous Hoby (Scarborough) in the Blessed Parliament of 1604. A century on from them, our representatives included Sir Jeffrey Jeffreys (Brecon) and Theophilus Oglethorpe (Haslemere).
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Members of the first Commons of the 1900s, and therefore colleagues of Churchill and Lloyd George, included Sackville Stopford-Sackville (Northamptonshire North) and Sir Robert Uniacke-Penrose-Fitzgerald (Cambridge). But the rot arguably set in during that very same parliament, when newcomer and future prime minister Bonar Law insisted his Christian name rhymed with 'honour'.
One hundred years later, all we had left was Diana Organ (Forest of Dean) and in 2007 there was a sad day in the Lords as the Liberal Democrats' immaculately groomed Lady Garden was upgraded to Baroness. In 2015, we lost Reckless (Rochester and Strood), together with Balls (Morley and Outwood) and a Willie (Bain, Glasgow North East). No wonder a nation starved of hilarity seized on Dick Braine with such alacrity.
Why have exotically-named politicians become an endangered species in the UK? Most probably as part of a gradual process including the end of parliament as a gentlemen's club for the upper classes and the general homogenisation of names as the population rises.
In the first parliament to be held after the Union of Great Britain and Ireland on January 1, 1801, nine of the 658 MPs were Smiths or Joneses; in the parliament just dissolved there were 23 of 650.
Political parties may have realised, too, that in times when branding is everything, you are more likely to be elected if you are called John Grant (elected in Islington East in 1970) than Alfred Raper (elected in Islington East in 1918).
The last refuge of the awkwardly-named politico appears to be the Brexit Party, where Nigel Farage's super-secret list of parliamentary candidates is thought to include Alaric Bamping (Dartford), Marc Bozza (Stirling) and Dominic Frisby (Old Bexley and Sidcup), a self-styled "pro-Brexit comedian" who recently appeared on Russia Today's Sputnik show alongside fellow pro-Brexit comedians Bobby Davro and George Galloway.
But for those who miss the days when MPs had first names like Fenner and Ferdinando, Dingle and Duff, help is on the way. In 1974 the top 10 lists of baby names in the UK were dominated by staples like Paul, Mark and David, Sarah, Claire and Nicola. In 2018 we find Layla, Ava and Aria among the top 10 girls' names, with Caden, Noah and Grayson in the boys.
So in 2050 we might finally have some interesting names in the Commons once more. By which time the 35-year-old Sixtus Dominic Boniface Christopher Rees-Mogg should be just about be completing his first term as prime minister.
BREXITEERS OF THE WEEK
The Brexit Party's candidate in Batley and Spen has either stood down or been beamed up after it was revealed that she believed aliens were currently "working with our world governments, but that's all hush-hush for now".
Ms Hughes made the claim in a 2018 book Spirit of Prophecy, and frankly she should know as she a year earlier she'd told website The Soul Matrix: "I have just come to truly realise that my purpose is to raise consciousness here on earth - I originated from Sirius."
Surely she couldn't be Sirius? Indeed she was, with Amazon's author information revealing she is a believer in "elves/fairies/mermaids/unicorns… She came to believe in reincarnation in her mid-twenties when her old horse Red made a reappearance as a palomino called Hooray Henry".
Alas the Brexiteers no longer think Jill is out of this world and have said "neigh" to her candidacy.
The dictionary defines a plot as "a secret plan made by several people to do something that is wrong, harmful, or not legal, especially to do damage to a person or a government". This definition has yet to reach the Brexiteer Pravda, which instead spreads fake news by suggesting standard political manoeuvres are treachery.
Some examples from the last few days: "How Lindsay Hoyle blocked Remainer plot to reverse Brexit", "Jo Swinson lets slip Remain Alliance plot that could prove disaster for Boris Johnson", "Remainer plot to see Scotland break up with UK to install Jeremy Corbyn in Number 10", "Anti-Brexit plot: Remainer MPs hatch secret plan", "BBC's Laura Kuenssberg dismantles Corbyn's plot to undermine Boris Johnson". And so it goes on...
Could it be the Express has lost the plot?
The Brexit-loving, up-for-sale Daily Telegraph has been forced to issue its third correction this year about something written by a former columnist.
The latest false claim, made in June, was that the country was forecast to become the largest economy in the northern hemisphere and overtake Germany in terms of growth. Neither was true.
The paper had previously corrected articles by the same author which boasted that no-deal Brexit was the most popular option among the British public, and made an inaccurate claim about a convicted drug dealer whom he claimed was "yet another example of our cockeyed crook-coddling criminal justice system".
Good news for the Telegraph: The columnist in question left in July for a new job.
Bad news for the rest of us: He's now the prime minister.
The Fulham midfielder has deactivated his Twitter account after appearing to blame Jeremy Corbyn for the controversial "£350m a week for the NHS" Brexit slogan.
Arter lashed out at the Labour leader, claiming he "openly admitted he lied through the whole campaign the day after Brexit about what he was planning to invest in the NHS". The footballer added: "Hard to take anything he says seriously when his whole campaign was on the back of certain funding for the NHS to then literally the next day admitting it was a lie."
The Irish international seems to have been confusing Corbyn with Boris Johnson (who popularised the £350m number) and Nigel Farage (who admitted on June 24, 2016 that it was false).
Last year, rumours claimed that Arter and former Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane had clashed over Brexit at the team's training camp.