The Chief Whip should paws for thought – Cromwell is a terrible name for a cat

In the heated post-Brexit atmosphere, Whitehall needs to claw back some goodwill


Number 10 has one, the Treasury and the Home Office have both have ones, and now the Telegraph reports that the Cabinet Office is getting its own mouser.

And continuing with the endearing tradition of naming Whitehall cats after great Brits from history, the Chief Whip is apparently planning to call it…Cromwell.

Yes, that Cromwell. The genial father of British democracy who headed England’s most brutal military assault on its neighbours, but still has a statue on Parliament Square, alongside Nelson Mandela and Gandhi.

‘First reaction is just omg,’ commented Cambridge historian Joan Redmond, who recently completed a PhD on popular religious violence in Ireland from 1641-1660.

‘Second is that it’s an example of acute historical insensitivity and ignorance.’

So, ahead of the heated debate that will undoubtedly rage over this matter, here are our five reasons why Cromwell is a really, really dreadful name for a cat.

1. Because pets should not be named after mass murderers 

It’s a simple rule. No Miaow Zedong’s, No A-dog Hitlers, no Kim Jong-Bunnies — no kitty Cromwells.

While there is continuing historical debate about using terms like ‘ethnic cleansing’ or ‘near-genocide’ in relation to Cromwell’s Irish campaign, it’s well-established that he and his forces massacred Irish civilians. Lots of them.

So, while the Chief Whip reportedly disclosed the planned name in a ‘tongue-in-cheek manner’, it’s a joke that will fall as flat as the town of Wexford…in 1649…after Cromwell’s troops burned it to the ground.

2. Because of “the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland”

Remember this? It’s what Theresa May said on the steps of Downing Street on her first evening as Prime Minister, reminding us all that her party’s full name is ‘The Conservative and Unionist Party.’

It would be odd then for a Conservative government to commemorate, in its feline nomenclature, an English despot who hated both Scots and Irish and did all he could to stamp out their cultures and replace them with a greater England.

3. Because Ireland is angry enough already

Brexit is really bad for Ireland, both north and south. It’s bad for their economies, bad for the peace process, bad in basically every way.

Irish people are frustrated that, after a century of trying to resolve the tensions that exist with their slightly overbearing neighbours, the neigbours have decided to set both our houses on fire.

And now they’re planning to buy a cat, give it offensive name, and allow it to claw apart the tapestry of our shared history.

4. Because Scotland is angry enough already

With insult heaped on top of injury, we can definitely expect Nicola Sturgeon to find a Highlands Wildcat, name it William Wallace and let it loose on Cromwell.

5. Because the Tories are supposedly the party of gender equality — surely they can promote one female cat?

Theresa May must send a strong message that inequality will not be tolerated anywhere in her government.

We have to ask ourselves the question — could a kitten heal an unequal Britain?

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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