Page last updated at 13:19 GMT, Monday, 9 January 2006

What to call Ming's backers?

Sketch
By Nick Assinder
Political Correspondent, BBC News website

We've got the Blairites and the Brownies, the Thatcherites and now the Cameroons.

Ming the Merciless aka Max Von Sydow in the 1980s Flash Gordon film
Ming the Merciless has his followers
And is it true that Charles Kennedy's political gang were known as the Charlies?

In any case, no political leader worth his salt can get through life in the Commons without a band of groupies with their own label.

And should Sir Menzies Campbell become Liberal Democrat leader, it will be a gift to Westminster gossips and sketch writers everywhere.

The fact that his first name is not pronounced the way it is spelt only gives more room for manoeuvre.

The explanation for that is pretty straightforward and has been set out by Sir Menzies (not Sir Ming, please) on many occasions.

Common sense

"Mingis is the Scottish pronunciation," he points out. There were other options for his parents, however.

For generations, sons in his family were named either Walter or George and, when he came along it was time for a Walter.

As he has said in the past: "My mother was a woman of great common sense who said you can't send a boy into the world with the initials W.C". Tell that to Mrs Fields.

Sir Menzies Campbell
Sir Menzies, universally known as Ming
So, what should his supporters be saddled with. The Campbells may be the most obvious name for his clan. However it lacks imagination, to say the least.

And it's probably a good job there isn't a MacDonald in the running or 400 year old memories of the Glencoe massacre might be stirred. And we all know where that can lead.

Alternatives such as Campbellites just don't do it either. But Menzies, pronounced Mingis, or as is often the case Ming, offers much more fertile territory.

Flash Gordon

So, first out of the traps has been the Mingnons - after all isn't the finest filet mignon produced from Scottish beef?

Or perhaps the Mingites, which sounds like a long lost ancient Egyptian cult.

Then there are those whose grasp of popular culture, particularly of the camp variety, means they have already christened him Ming the Merciless after the villain in the Flash Gordon shows.

So would that make his followers the Merciless Ones? Possibly fitting after what it is claimed they got up to in their alleged campaign to remove Charles Kennedy.

Or should they be the Mongos after the inhabitants of Ming's evil planet Mongo.

Or - and here's a thought that, once entertained, will never be dispelled - could they simply be the Mingers?



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