Wednesday, May 12, 2010

George Osborne's alleged Jewish connection

So we have a new Chancellor - Gideon Osborne.

Yes, that's right. Gideon.

He changed his name to George as a teenager.

Struggling to come to terms with the personal betrayal, the FT's Gideon Rachman reads perhaps a little too much into this:

Why had Osborne junked the name, Gideon, in favour of George? This was not something I felt I could ask him directly. Perhaps it was an early sign of political ambition. It is all very well being called something exotic like “Barack Obama” in the US, but it might be a bit of a risk in British politics. Gideon is also regarded as a Jewish name (although it is also popular amongst Zulus). I guess that could have been part of Osborne’s motives? But even if it was, I’m inclined to be forgiving. Osborne isn’t Jewish, and I can see it might be odd to have a false ethnic flag pinned to your back. If my parents had decided to call me Sanjay, I might also have changed my name.

First of all he was only 13, so it would have been a very early sign of political ambition.

Meanwhile, in 2005, Osborne explained to the Telegraph:

"It was my small act of rebellion. I never liked it. When I finally told my mother she said, 'Nor do I'. So I decided to be George after my grandfather, who was a war hero. Life was easier as a George; it was a straightforward name."

What on earth did he mean by that?? (My antisemitism antenna perks up....)

My colleague Martin Bright, however, tells me that Gideon is actually a very posh name, and that Osborne was probably trying to downplay his poshness - rather than his 'Jewishness' (or Zulu-ness, I suppose....). This is also quite clear from the context of the Telegraph article.

Sorry, Gideon R.....

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