There have been many illustrious names during British Maritime history. The Victory, Ark Royal, Illustrious, Endeavour, The Beagle to name just a few. In the last few months, the public have been given the opportunity to choose the name of the next Polar research vessel.
Over 7,000 names were put forward with some very worthy entries such as the David Attenborough, named after television’s foremost natural historian. However most of the top entries were humorous entries such as the RSS What iceberg and RSS It’s Bloody Cold Here, the popular winner turned out to be Boaty McBoatface.
Whilst it says a lot of our self-depreciating nature and lack of respect for authority, one can’t help but think that in most other countries such a jokey entrance would have been eliminated long before the final stages. One would imagine in most European nations it would have been taken out for not taking things serious enough and you’d imagine an American competition might be dominated by something highly patriotic or inspiring. We though seem to once more glory in our eccentricities with a name surely inspired by BlackAdder who found himself in the stickiest situation since Sticky the stick insect got stuck on a sticky bun with a dashing of Angus McSporran.
It’s hard not to think that the crew of Boaty McBoatface might not fling themselves overboard at their highly valuable scientific research missions being on such a juvenile named vessel, especially when they encounter a foreign vessel with a more auspicious name.
I always say that there are more stupid people than clever people and that most of the time, the current trend to give a voice to the people brings stupid but very obvious results in everything from reality television to politics. Personally, I think the name Boaty McBoatface is an awful, stupid name and not even funny but around 120,000 people voted differently. It seems like the government agrees with me and is belatedly saying that various names are being considered as Boaty McBoatface is not quite setting the image that they would like to project.
However, it that is the case then they just have drawn up a shortlist of 10 or 20 names that would still have attracted as many votes but at least everyone would be happy with the resulting winner. Now we are stuck either with a multi-million-pound scientific vessel with the stupidest name on the planet or a government that assumes it knows better than the people who voted for it, which in this case it does but it’s all their fault in the first place.
Is the whole affair a perversion of democracy or is it typical of how democracy eventually plays out, especially British democracy with no rules, pressure groups and not much at stake. After all, as the saying goes, if voting ever changed anything then ‘they’ wouldn’t allow it. The people almost unanimously want an end to things like multi-national corporation avoiding tax and wealthy pressure groups financing politics and dictators hiding money in off-shore accounts but of course, no-one in charge is quick to change that.
It’s ok for we the people to make our choices known but it is still up to others to act how they wish when in office. Boaty McBoatface seems to get to the bottom of the difference between them and us…. but on this occasion, I’m very much with them. On the other hand, how nice to live in a country when so many people have a sense of humour and like to act with a little bit of subversion.
What would you do now? Change the name or go with the winning entry and have a £200 million / $325 million advanced science vessel called Boaty McBoatface?