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A Poll By Any Other Name

by Liam Hainey

Despite their reputation taking something of a beating in recent years, politicians and pundits alike still devote significant amounts of time to analysing polling data. Party press releases flood inboxes, each one insisting the figures prove, conclusively, that they are on top.

Inspired by the publication of every name bestowed up a child born in Scotland last year, we at newsdirect have decided to take a new approach to quantitative political analysis. After all, what could be a purer expression of one’s voting intention than naming a child after the leader of your chosen party?

Using this, highly scientific, method the First Minister has cause for concern. In 2016 ten babies were given the name Nicola but last year only four. That is a 60% collapse which if repeated at the ballot box would spell disaster for the SNP. Notably, there were no Nicolas born in her home city of Glasgow.

Perhaps more worrying for Nicola Sturgeon is the rise in popularity of Ruth. Scottish Conservative Leader, Ruth Davidson, gained nine namesakes last year compared to only four in 2016. Meanwhile Richard Leonard’s forename decreased in popularity by 30% to nine, though there is no data available on how many of those babies were named after his ascension to the Scottish Labour Leadership in November. Mr Leonard’s surname is also a relatively popular given name but it has also seen a decline, from 12 babies to only eight.

In terms of Westminster, the Prime Minister’s difficult year was reflected in the complete absence of baby Theresas born in Scotland. The same cannot be of the Leader of the Opposition. The name Jeremy enjoyed a 300% increase in popularity, rising from just one in 2016 to four in 2017. Like his comrade in Scotland, Jeremy Corbyn’s surname also functions as a forename. However, while no babies born in 2016 were given that name, at least with that spelling, there was a remarkable seven in the last year. SNP Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford, has an enduringly popular Scottish name though his particular spelling saw a 35% decrease from 17 to 11.

What does all this mean then? On the face of it bad news for the SNP, though Minister for Transport & the Islands, Humza Yousaf, did enjoy a slight increase in the popularity of his name. These results show a mixed bag for the UK parties, with no obvious pattern emerging. It is therefore unclear at this stage how these figures will translate to electoral success. We await Professor Curtice’s input with bated breath.

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