openDemocracyUK

In the 'Nick' of time

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
22 April 2010

Tomorrow, I hope oD will publish an overview on the electoral insurrection now seemingly underway in Britain. In it I say that "popular desire for real reform has lifted the Lib Dems onto its shoulders". One reason for this is that in the course of the first TV debate the party's leader became instantly know as "Nick". I was laughing about this with Jeremy Gilbert at the University of East London, where I'd been to speak at a colloquium on the meaning of the election (if you wish, you can listen to all three hours here). It's not always that this name tagging happens. Even with Blair, 'Tony' was an uncertain identification. Unlike 'Ken' or 'Boris' when you instantly know who is being referred to. Jeremy agreed. He remembered someone predicting that Kinnock would never win an election because he was never popularly known as Neil (whereas Thatcher was known as Maggie). Will the same rule apply to Brown, although he is sometimes referred to as Gordon, and to Cameron, who is never known as David? Go to it, Nick!

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