Telegraph: “The nation’s babies have begun to abandon the Prime Minister”

Eva Castillo
Creative Commons License photo credit: owlpacino
Cross-posted from Liberal Democrat Voice

You have to hand it to Telegraph journalists. It’s approaching August. Stories are thin on the ground. But trees must be killed. So stories must be concocted. And what a concoction this one was!:

New parents shun ‘Cameron’ and ‘Nick’ for baby names
David Cameron may feel he needs his Tuscan holiday at the end of a bruising first year in power.

There followed suitable snaps of Cameron and Clegg looking knackered, and this text:

After facing battles over spending cuts, a gloomy economy, and the phone hacking scandal, now it seems that even the nation’s babies have begun to abandon the Prime Minister.

Fewer parents chose to call their newborn boys “Cameron” during the Coalition’s first seven months in power, as the Conservative leader’s apparent popularity on the maternity wards continued to slide.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 1,191 baby boys were named Cameron in 2010, making the Prime Minister’s surname the 61st most popular first name in England and Wales last year.

This represented a plunge in the rankings since 2008, when 1,627 boys were called Cameron, putting it 46th in the rankings.

Perhaps reflecting the harsh realities of sharing power, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, faired even worse.

Only 15 boys were called Nick last year, along with 448 named Nicholas, even fewer than in previous years, before Mr Clegg was appointed Deputy Prime Minister.

Astute LDV readers may have already spotted the fatal flaw in the headline above. Yes. You’ve got it. The first names of our Prime Minister and Deputy PM are not “Cameron” and (bearing in mind babies are normally named in full) “Nick”.

In the service of Liberal Democrat Voice, I have immersed myself in Office for National Statistics spreadsheets until my eyes were starting to come out of their sockets.

Trust me. Over the years, some names become more popular and some become less popular. It’s as simple as that. Take my surname. In 1904, “Walter” was the 19th most popular first name in the country. It then succumbed to an historic slide so that, in 2009 only 27 babies were named “Walter”.

If we take our Prime Minister’s actual first name, David, that has undergone a similar historic slide in popularity. In 1954 and 1964, David was the most popular boy’s name. In 2010 it was 64th with 1094 boys named “David”. But, playing the Telegraph at their own game, this was a DRAMATIC increase on 2009 when only 1072 boys were called David. So the Prime Minister, contrary to the Telegraph’s gist, has encouraged a POSITIVE RUN on his first name, if we play the same fatuous inferential charade as the Telegraph.

If we wanted to split hairs about the name Cameron, then we could point out that it is actually enjoying a vast increase in usage. It was nowhere in the Top 100 names until 1994 when it came in at 65th. It peaked at 27th in 2002 when Mr Cameron was relatively unknown. When you compare 1191 Camerons in 2010 to virtually zero in 1990, then that’s quite an increase. And Cameron as a girl’s name is on a roll. 32 in 2010 compared to just 18 in 2009.

Now to the name Nick. Despite not being a usual full first name, there were 15 babies named Nick in 2010 compared to just 9 in 2002. That’s actually an increase, oh Telegraph.

As for Nicholas, that is another one of those names, like David, which is historically declining. In 1944 it was the 76th most popular boys’ name. It rose to 52nd in 1996 but in 2010 it trended down to 133rd. In 2009 there were 454 new Nicolases while in 2010 there were 448 – just a 1% reduction.

So, to summarise (and wake up at the back, please), the popularity of David went up between 2009 and 2010, while the choice of Nicholas went down by a mere 1% in those years.

So, that was the highly fragile basis on which the Telegraph told us that the PM and DPM have been ‘shunned’. That was the basis on which the Telegraph based this ludicrous sentence:

The nation’s babies have begun to abandon the Prime Minister.

…The Silly Season has well and truly arrived.

In praise of Francis Fluffy bits

I am sorry that this is rather belated but I suddenly realised the other day that my life was missing something. It’s Francis “Fluffy bits” Wilson. I’ve just realised he isn’t on Sky or anywhere doing the weather any more. Sob. Sob. I’ve watched him since he was a very raw studenty-type doing the weather on Thames at Six with Andrew Gardner.

Anyway, to fill the gap somewhat here he is when East Anglia fell on his head and a priceless impression by Rory Bremner:


The incredible shrinking Boehner

So, let’s get this straight. John Boehner, GOP Speaker of the US House, can’t get his own representatives to support his own plan, let alone find agreement with some Democrats.

That’s where we are.

Stephanie Flanders explained yesterday that passing the deadline with the debt ceiling intact does not mean automatic default. But we have here a political game of chicken which has, at its centre, not a malfunction of US fiscal management, but the political dysfunction of the Republican party. In short, it is not actually one party any more, it is two parties.

NPR sums it up nicely:

And it leaves Boehner appearing weakened, the incredible shrinking speaker. His speakership appears to have hit the Tea Party iceberg and is taking on water.

Chris Huhne cleared by Electoral Commission over election expenses

The Electoral Commission have cleared Chris Huhne over his expenses for the last general election. The Commission’s full report is here.

The Commission found that website costs had been under-reported by the “minimal” amount of £10.15. However, it also found that leaflet costs had been actually over declared by £194. Overall, the Commission found that the total expenditure of the campaign was “within the spending limit.”

All fascinating stuff. This all must be very frustrating indeed for our friends Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes) and Mr Harry Cole. They beavered away for months in their Sunlight Foundation to come up with a complaint to the Commission which, as is often the case with their work, seemed a “slam dunk case” when you looked at it for 0.2 seconds. Unfortunately, as the Commission has now confirmed, when you actually thought about it for more than 0.3 seconds, their whole case unraveled like a family portion of spaghetti boulognese hitting the kitchen floor.

But we should admire Messrs Staines, Cole, Fawkes and Sunlight. They certainly gave their complaint a fantastic fanfare and defended it with the most almighty vigour and energy.

You only have to look at the comments on this LibDemVoice post.

Guido was up very early at a few minutes to 7am to say:

We ain’t finished yet

Notice the Royal “We” – meaning “me and my lad”.

In retrospect Guido’s comments are hysterically funny. Yes, let’s have a DAMN GOOD LAUGH at this retort of his to Mark Pack:

You are becoming the Comical Ali to Huhne’s Hussein. My tanks are real and we have him in firmly in our sights. He won’t survive.

“My tanks are real”. Hilarious!

And have a look here at the tweets of @MrHarryCole for 4th June. He breathlessly reports how the fruit of his labour is being reported on Sky News. Later, he is beside himself as he tweets that the story is third on the BBC’s Six o’clock news, adding with unconcealed glee: “available for comment etc”.

Yes, indeed. They both needed a clean change of knickers on 4th June at Guido Towers. It is an interesting commentary on our new 24 rolling rowlocks news/Tweetjerk world that such a steaming pile of unmitigated horse manure gained any traction at all.

The Sun gets it wrong

The Sun’s leader today declared:

Time is running out for this Government to get a grip.

The starting point is to shove the feeble Lib Dems aside and for Conservative ministers to start behaving like Conservatives.

That is, by cutting taxes, they mean.

There is one fatal flaw with this theorem. So far, the most significant tax cut of this government was implemented at the insistence of the LibDems (namely taking 800,000 lower earners out of tax altogether). It would therefore seem unwise to “shove” aside those very tax cutters.

We owe Norway a tree

Creative Commons License photo credit: nrkbeta
Sky News have photos and bios of some of the Utoya victims. Seeing the photos brings home the senseless waste of bright, lively kids. It’s like Liberal Youth being decimated.

A commentator has already suggested the following, so I am seconding it. Oslo has quietly sent us a big tree for Trafalgar Square at Christmas every year since 1947, to thank us for our help during the war.

Having seen the quiet dignity and fortitude of the Norwegian nation in the last few days, I think we owe them a tree in return.

A little clue as to how a ‘member of the public’ found out about Gordon Brown’s son’s illness for the Sun

The Sun produced an unnamed ‘member of the public’, who, it said, had given it the details of Gordon Brown’s son Fraser’s illness. However, one wonders how such a ‘member of the public’ would have got hold of such information.

Private Eye gives us a little clue in their latest edition. I thought long and hard about whether to reproduce part of the relevant article here, but, in the end, decided not to. So, you’ll just have to get hold of a copy of that distinguished organ yourself. The relevant piece is on page 6, if memory serves (after I read every word of the issue, I recycled it).

Newbury Town Council oppose Pavilion in Victoria Park

Great news! In the July edition of “Victoria Ward E-news”, Councillor David Allen gives this update:

At a recent Town Council Policy and Resources Meeting the Committee voted in favour of supporting a modest development in the Park – eg a cafe, toilets, park wardens office and boat storage area. I pointed out to the Committee that since the building of the Parkway shopping centre, the Park has become a very important open space and we are not keen on seeing a large development in the south-east corner (the ‘Pavilion’). If you have any views on this subject please do let me know. David.

Giving phone hackers their comeuppance

I did wonder whether anyone had tried to counter press phone hacking by deliberately placing a spoof message on their phone. Private Eye reports that TV PR Ian Johnson did just that when he was running the BBC’s entertainment press office between 2001 and 2004. After suspecting phone hacking, he got a friend to leave a message on his voicemail which impied that June Brown (aka Cotton) was leaving Eastenders.

Lo and behold, he was called later the same evening by a Sun reporter who breathlessly told him that they had “proof” that Brown was leaving the soap and had laid out the next day’s front page with “Dot Leaves Albert Square” as the splash, demanding a quote from the BBC for the story. Johnson was only too happy to give them one.