Big Ben Name Change To Honour Queen 'Opposed By Almost Half Of Voters'

Posted: 2/05/2012 10:49 Updated: 2/05/2012 10:49

Almost half of Britons are opposed to renaming Big Ben's Clock Tower in honour of the Queen, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

A survey conducted by YouGov showed that 44% oppose changing name of the Clock Tower to Elizabeth Tower for Diamond Jubilee, while 30% support the new name.

MPs have suggested that the tower be renamed and the move is said to have the backing of David Cameron.

Tory Tobias Ellwood is leading the calls for the government to rename the tower in recognition of Her Majesty's "60 years of unbroken public service on behalf of her country".

The Bournemouth East MP said that while most people would probably still call the tower Big Ben, it would be appropriate to change the official name.

"I cannot think of a greater tribute for parliament to bestow than to rename such an iconic landmark as the Clock Tower," he said recently.

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According to YoGov, older people older people (60+; 46%) are slightly more likely than younger (18-24s; 37%) to oppose the idea.

And people in London are also more opposed to a change (53%) compared to those in the rest of England, Wales (41-46%) or especially Scotland (39%).

The name change has precedent as the tower at the other end of the Palace of Westminster was originally called the King's Tower, but was renamed Victoria Tower in 1860 in honour of the only other British monarch to have reigned for 60 years.

The move has cross party support with Labour's shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy telling the Daily Mail: "The Queen and the Clock Tower are known throughout the world. It would be brilliant if we could celebrate 60 years of service with a permanent monument to Her Majesty’s dedication and grace."

So far 40 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling on the government to make the change, including former foreign secretaries Jack Straw and Malcom Rifkind.

But the move was attacked by the campaign group Republic, who want to replace the monarchy with an elected head of state.

Republic's chief executive Graham Smith said the MPs' proposing the name change were doing so in order to secure themselves a knighthood.

"Parliament is the home of British democracy and as flawed as that democracy is it must remain a tribute to our democratic values. Associating this institution with the unelected, unaccountable and anti-democratic monarchy is crass and completely inappropriate," he said.

"This is another opportunity for the monarchy to co-opt every institution to its cause. As interest in the monarchy wanes among the wider public a few out of touch MPs are doing their best to shore up its support."

"Perhaps this is just a cynical attempt by these MPs to ingratiate themselves with the palace in the hope of a gong, or to deflect attention from more important matters. Whatever the reason the parliament is for the people, not for the royals."

He added: "I would suggest these MPs should be paying a little more attention to the needs of their constituents, rather than prostrating themselves in front of the most privileged woman in the country."

Big Ben's Clock Tower was recently the subject of a Commons debate after MPs objected to House of Commons plans to charge tourists to climb its steps.

The tower was completed in 1859. Big Ben's clock started ticking on on 31 May of that year and the iconic bell strikes were heard for the first time on 11 July.

It is over 96 metres tall and visitors have to climb 334 steps to reach the belfry. Around 850 cubic metres of stone and 2,600 cubic metres of bricks were used to construct it.

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Filed by Ned Simons  |