Former Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell (nicknamed ‘GOD’, after his initials) opened another chapter in the Clapham confusion as he entered the House of Lords yesterday…
“Sir Augustine Thomas O’Donnell GCB, having been created Baron O’Donnell, of Clapham in the London Borough of Wandsworth, was introduced and took the oath, supported by Lord Armstrong of Ilminster and Baroness Manningham-Buller, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.”
As the tireless campaigners at Love Battersea always point out, Clapham is not in the Borough of Wandsworth – it is a good distance down the road in Lambeth.
Philip Beddows of the SW11tch Back to Battersea Campaign tells me: “Thus it is that Gus O’Donnell has become Lord O’Donnell of Geographically-impossible-place. I think this calls for a special House of Lords committee to demand that he change his title immediately.
“Perhaps the way in which the United Kingdom has veered off course in these economic times is down to a lack of geographic compass taking us in the correct direction! Or perhaps the former Cabinet Secretary is hedging his political bets and being balanced as the Civil Service are supposed to be by mixing Clapham (in Lambeth, run by Labour) and Wandsworth (where he lives in Battersea, run by the Conservatives) in his title!”
During last August’s riots, avoidable confusion was caused by media reports that there was looting and arson in Clapham (which was peaceful), rather than Clapham Junction.
I have contacted Alf Dubbs (Baron Dubs, of Battersea which is actually in the London Borough of Wandsworth) to ask if he can give his new colleague a quick geography lesson.