Why must I know Lord Levy’s middle name?

Catching up on some of the media coverage from whilst I was away, I’ve been reading the claims that some of the cash for peerages accusations being thrown at Labour’s fundraiser Lord Levy have been tinged by anti-Semitism.

Now – there’s a whole heap of evidence that there is something very rotten at the heart of Labour over money and peerages, so I approached this story with a fair degree of scepticism.

But there is one point that has struck me as valid – why do we keep on being told Lord Levy’s middle name? It’s Abraham – and so telling us his middle name in a news report emphasises, deliberately or not, that he’s Jewish.

By comparison, we don’t get told Ruth Turner’s middle name. Actually – strictly speaking this isn’t true, we do – because Ruth is her middle name. But her first name is Caitriona and – just as Abraham = likely to be Jewish, so Caitriona = likely to be Irish.

But whilst “Michael Abraham Levy” is a commonly used phrase, “Caitriona Ruth Turner” is only rarely used. (Try doing a Google search on the two – I just did and whilst “Michael Abraham Levy” gets 884 hits, “Caitriona Ruth Turner” gets just 5. Levy gets more coverage in general, so that explains some of the difference – but not the 884 to 5 margin).

The BBC website is a good example of this lopsided behaviour. Ruth Turner’s profile doesn’t tell us anything about her family background and doesn’t use Caitriona, whilst Lord Levy’s profile uses “Abraham” and “Jewish”. So – why does being Jewish matter to the BBC whilst being Irish doesn’t?

And it’s not just the BBC – Michael White in the Guardian uses Abraham too but Ruth Turner is just Ruth Turner.

All a bit rum. I’m very loathe to leap to the assumption that people in the BBC and elsewhere in the media are being deliberately anti-Semitic, and I’d like to think that even a charge of inadvertent anti-Semitism can be explained away, but I’m stumped for a decent explanation for the repeated use of “Abraham”.

To be fair to both Michael and the BBC, they’re by no means the only people I could have highlighted, but they’re the ones with examples most easy to find when sat at a computer with an internet connection. Perils of having big popular websites!

But anyway, I’ll email a copy of this blog posting off to Michael White and Mark Thompson at the BBC and let’s see what they say.

0 thoughts on “Why must I know Lord Levy’s middle name?

  1. I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact that Michael Abraham Levy is what he calls himself, and is what he has put in Dods.Dods lists “Lynne Featherstone” as just plain old “Lynne Featherstone”, but looking at the next MP above, if you Google “Timothy James Farron” you find 39 results (maybe there is a conspiracy against people called James) while Levy’s predecessor Lord Levene shows up 169 times when you type in “Peter Keith Levene”.I don’t really understand what this proves, except that Levy is more pretentious than Ruth Turner. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  2. Given my name I wanted to comment that it is not Michael Abraham that makes his name stand out as Jewish, it is the ‘Levy’ part.Very few people (outside the Jewish community) assume my name is Jewish.We should not suggest that there is any anti-semitism because his full name is used. For those of us out side parliament it is hard to know who Baroness Williams is, but as soon as you add Shirley it becomes immediately obvious. This is a relatively standard practice for members of the house of Lords.What I find amazing is that members of the Jewish community assume he is innocent just because of the good work he has done for charity both inside and outside the Jewish community. One of the news channels (probably Channel 4 News) was interviewing his rabbi and I cannot blame the media for making this link, but the rabbi should not have given an interview about a member of his congregation. We should no longer regard Lord Levy as a pillar of Anglo-Jewry, just as Jenny Tong is no longer regarded by the Lib Dems as a good representative of the party. At least until the unlikely event where Lord Levy is cleared of his involvement in cash for honours.

  3. Guilty until proven innocent?I agree that it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. There’s enough real anti-Semitism around without making such weak stuff up. I’m more inclined to suspect this is whatever the -ism is for being anti-politician.

  4. It’s “Levy” which gives it away, not the middle name (as been pointed out). If you seriously believe that the media coverage of him is anti-Semitic, then you probably believe that Diana was killed by Prince Phillip and the Queen Mother was a large Jewish lizard (who is still alive and well today). This post isn’t one of you best, Lynne.By the way, where does “Choona” come from? Is it Indian?

  5. One thing no-one has explained is why Levy’s middle name is used but Turner’s first name isn’t? Saying it isn’t anti-semitism only washes if you also give a reason for why Turner’s name doesn’t get used imho