The National:

JUST when we thought that the whole silly business of Margaret Thatcher’s face going on the new Bank of England £50 note had been laughed out of court, up pops the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street to say that the late baroness was indeed still under consideration for the honour.

You will remember that the bank had called for nominations of famous British scientists for what it calls its “character selection” process. Among the list of names nominated so far are Stephen Hawkings, Humphrey Davy, Alan Turing and Margaret Thatcher.

That’s Thatcher, the famous scientist who only got a second-class degree in chemistry and absolutely did not invent anything and especially not Mr Whippy ice cream – an urban myth that was disproved years ago.

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We think that the people making the nominations were not entirely taking it seriously, because among the nominees is one Michael Scot – the 13th-century alchemist and occult practitioner who was nevertheless a brainy chap as he translated important works from Arabic. By legend he was also a wizard, which possibly didn’t sit too well with his day job as a priest.

Hamish MacPherson has promised to tell us much more about Michael in his Back in the Day column next week, but in the meantime we must surely all have a laugh at Margaret Thatcher being considered as a scientist and having to go up against a Scottish wizard from the Middle Ages.

It is good to see that Scots are widely nominated on the provisional list. The names include the Alexanders, Fleming and Graham Bell, James Clerk Maxwell, Robert Watson-Watt, Isabella Gordon and plenty other Scotsmen and Scotswomen, though we did notice the name Isabella Muir when she is better known as Helen Muir.

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The bank emphasises: “This is only the preliminary stage of identifying eligible names for consideration – at this first stage, a nomination has been deemed eligible simply if the character is real, deceased and has contributed to the field of science in the UK in any way. These names have not yet been considered by our Banknote Character Advisory Committee.”

We can only hope the committee vetoes Thatcher’s physog going on the £50 note and gives the award to a deserving Scot, though mind you what would they do if, heaven forfend, Scotland became independent during the lifetime of the new note – rip them all up?