Democracy is a sham, if you’re naming a boat at least. Despite Boaty McBoatface winning a public vote as the name for a new polar research ship, the vessel will in fact be known as RRS Sir David Attenborough.
In March, the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council opened a poll which asked the people of the internet to name its new $300 million boat. Predictably some proposals were quite silly, but the suggested monicker Boaty McBoatface gained traction and eventually won the poll with 124,109 votes—four times more than the second placed name RRS Poppy-Mai.
This morning, though, the UK’s science minister, Jo Johnson, tweeted to say that the boat will in fact be called RRS Sir David Attenborough, “in tribute to a great broadcaster and natural scientist.” Seeing as you ask, the name RRS David Attenborough actually came fifth in the public poll, with just 10,284 votes.
The name Boaty McBoatface was first suggested by former BBC radio presenter James Hand. According to the Guardian, he ultimately went on to vote for the name RRS David Attenborough.
David Attenborough is, of course, a wonderful guy—an inspiring naturalist, incredible presenter and cherished national treasure of the UK. But the decision to ignore public opinion and plump for the fifth-place name suggests that if an organization isn’t willing to bow to majority opinion, it may be better off not pretending it wants to in the first place.
Update: However, there is a glimmer of good news for lovers of the Boaty McBoatface name. The Natural Environment Research Council has announced that the name will “live on as a high-tech remotely operated undersea vehicle.” So that’s something at least. Say hello to Boaty.