Saturday, 21 June 2008

Andy Anonymous

This, by Marina Hyde, is mostly about the "strange" alliance between Labour and the DUP.

Well, no, there is nothing New Labour about the DUP. But they are economically working-class populists, they are moral and social conservatives, they are British and Commonwealth patriots (and therefore very anti-EU), they are strongly church-based, and they are staunch defenders of grammar schools as the ladders of advancement.

In other words, they are Very Old Labour, pre-Blairite because pre-Bennite, old-fashionedly in politics for what they can get out of it for their voters.

Or, at least, they were, until they signed up to 42-day detention.

But I simply cannot resist this:

"The individual has no right to anonymity," Andy Burnham once explained during a robotic defence of identity cards. "The state has a right to know who you are." Yet despite his concerted efforts to draw attention to himself with dazzling feats of brown-nosery, the cloak of anonymity has hung heavy on the current culture secretary, with very few citizens of this state having the first clue who he is. Indeed, for most of the final years of Tony Blair's premiership, he was presumed to be lodged in the prime ministerial colon, only emerging blinking into the daylight the minute Gordon took over, whereupon he announced to the press: "I was a Blairite, and now I am a Brownite."

Is he called Andy at home? I strongly suspect that he is called Andrew, just as Blair is called Anthony (which he is), recalling Harold Wilson's public pipe and private cigars.


  1. I have no idea whether Andy Burnham is known as "Andy" or "Andrew" in private. But I don't see why it matters. It's not uncommon for people to be known by their full name at home and by a shortened version of their name by their friends.

    My family has always called me Christopher, but at school, at university and at work I've always introduced myself as Chris. I prefer Chris, but I'm not going to start an argument with my family about it, so when I see them I'm still Christopher. I don't think that's in the least hypocritical, or odd. What's wrong with it?

  2. I think that, in Burnham's case, it's affected.

    It certainly is in Blair's. His wife's long ago no-hoper by-election literature referred to her as "married to the barrister, Anthony Blair", and someone of his class and generation would consider it faintly downmarket to be called Tony. Which is, of course, why he affects it.

    Although other people referred to Callaghan as Jim, he himself never used it in public life. Patricia Hewitt is called Pat in private, and David Cameron is called Dave.

    Even if Burnham really is called Andy (which I doubt), I stil tend to feel that he should stick to Andrew when presenting himself as a Cabinet Minister.

  3. You say "Blair is called Anthony". But your only evidence is that in Cherie's election literature from 1970s or 80s, she refers to Anthony. That doesn't really prove anything.

    Of course, now, she refers to him as Tony. There's every reason to suggest that the Anthony was affected, and Tony is what he really goes by.

  4. As a matter of simple fact, Andy Burnham is called Andy at home (really, not that it matters). But why on earth should he be called Andrew as a Cabinet Minister? What a dreadful snob you are.

  5. So you're saying that, if I were ever to reach a prominent position in public life such as a Cabinet post, I should call myself "Christopher" rather than "Chris" - even though I prefer "Chris", and think of myself as "Chris", not "Christopher"? Why on earth should I? And what business is it of yours?

    (And if this isn't what you think in my case, why on earth do you think it in Andy Burnham's case?)

  6. "There's every reason to suggest that the Anthony was affected, and Tony is what he really goes by."

    There's every reason to suggest no such thing. I very much doubt that he was called Tony at Fettes or Oxford in his day. Lord Snowdon could get away with it, but the just about upper-middle-class were, and are, and entirely different matter.

    "What a dreadful snob you are"

    Rather a real one than an inverted one.

    "if I were ever to reach a prominent position in public life such as a Cabinet post, I should call myself Christopher?"

    You might well find that this had alredy been done for you. As I said, Patricia Hewitt is called Pat in private. Even now, only Peter Hitchens, Simon Heffer and Richard Littlejohn refer to David Cameron as Dave in print, and he is never so called in the broadcast media.