Opinion: Double barrel of trouble for Labour MP

PUBLISHED: 08:30 02 February 2020

Comedian and broadcaster Steve Allen asks what's a hyphen in a name.

Comedian and broadcaster Steve Allen asks what's a hyphen in a name.


As interest in who will be the next Labour leader heats up the name calling has started, but for Rebecca Long-Bailey the attention is getting a little weird.

People have been trying to find out if she is Rebecca Long-Bailey or Rebecca Long Bailey, without the hyphen. It's important to know.

You have to get the details right if you're going to join the millions of other Twitter-users who think they're clever for making the Rebecca Wrong-Daily joke. Or should that be Rebecca Wrong-Daily?

Mocking someone for their name is hardly biting satire and I started to feel sorry for Rebecca till I remembered Jeremy Hunt.

The Labour leadership contender's team had told media outlets that her name is officially Long Bailey. Brilliant. Save yourself the trouble of trying to find where the hyphen is on your phone when you want to tweet her.

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Hang on. Her Twitter page has her as a Long-Bailey.

The name on Twitter doesn't mean much. In the run up to the last election CCHQ's Twitter name was changed to FactCheckUK, so we know it's not to be trusted. It's the handle that counts, the bit after the @ sign.

In this case she is @Rlong_Bailey. An underscore? That's not helping anyone.

I'm not a fan of double-barrelling names in general. It's OK now but we're storing up trouble. We'll end up in a world of quad-barrelled or octo-barrelled. In fact, spoiler alert, it's [2^(n-1)]-barrelled names where n is the number of generations.

After just 10 generations that's a 512-barrelled name. It would take hours to fill out any forms.

Thankfully the MP herself cleared the matter up. In an interview Rebecca said, "There actually is a hyphen but I'm not bothered."

That's a healthy attitude. Maybe she won't be affected by the name calling. Or is that name-calling?

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