Politicians of the year…

‘Inspired’ by The Times nomination of Nigel Farage, here is my wholly biased, evidence-free and not exactly serious set of ‘politicians of the year.

Politician of the year: Caroline Lucas
Honourable mention: Dennis Skinner

For sticking to her principles (hell, for even having principles in the first place!) listening to debates and generally being a good human being – something far beyond the reach of most MPs, Caroline Lucas took this award with relative ease – though Dennis Skinner’s NHS speech towards the end of 2014 took the breath away.

Liar of the year: Iain Duncan Smith

Extensive research has yet to find anything that IDS said in 2014 that was actually true. Full reviews of Hansard as well as of all his official speeches have failed, but close friends believe he may have been honest when telling the time once in late October.

Villain of the year: Chris Grayling

For his sadly partially successful attempts to destroy our justice system, Chris Grayling is my villain of the year. Hardly any aspect of the system has not felt his malign touch – what he has done to legal aid is nothing short of criminal, whilst probation and the prisons have been hit horribly and his judicial review plans are hideous. He’s been beaten many times in the courts, but his viciousness lumbers forward all but unabated.

Disappointment of the year: Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper had a real opportunity to change the authoritarian direction Labour has been heading since Blair’s embrace of the so-called ‘War on Terror’, and make Labour once again a party that understands the importance of civil liberties. Sadly she’s done pretty much precisely the opposite, seeming to want to ‘out-tough’ Theresa May, to love the surveillance state and out-Farage Farage on border controls. Sad, and totally unnecessary.

Failure of the year: Michael Gove

From leadership contender and the Man Who Would Save Education, Mr Gove has suffered a sacking, been stuck in the Commons toilet and been revealed to be a thoroughly incompetent Chief Whip – losing votes he should have won, having MPs defect just after having lunch with him. The world’s smallest violin is playing the world’s saddest song…

Racist Dog-whistler of the year: Nigel Farage

There are many awards that Nigel Farage could win – ‘Best Actor’ for his impersonation of an anti-establishment figure, despite being as establishment a politician as they come, right down to the employment of his family and full-scale exploitation of expenses rules – but the racist dog-whistles are his real forte. ‘You know the difference’ he told James O’Brien once. Yes, Nigel, we know the difference. And we know exactly what you mean.

Tragic figure of the year: Julian Huppert

Julian Huppert was one of the heroes of the commons in the way he was pivotal in the defeat of the Communications Data Bill – the snooper’s charter – but he went from hero to zero in 2014 by allowing himself to be used by Theresa May to ‘legitimise’ the passing of DRIP. That episode – the act was passed in mere days – was one of the most shameful in parliament’s recent history, and Huppert didn’t just fail to prevent it, he helped make it happen. It didn’t need to, and Huppert’s role in it was simply tragic.

Authoritarian of the year: Theresa May
Dishonourable mentions: David Blunkett, Hazel Blears

For her desire to bring back the snooper’s charter, preferably with all its powers strengthened and made less accountable, for her love of secret courts, and for all-round authoritarianism – and I’m not making this up – Theresa May is a shoe-in for the Authoritarian of the Year award. David Blunkett is past his prime, but still brings back memories of 90-day detention – while Hazel Blears’ supine efforts on the Intelligence and Security Committee make her seem positively starry eyed in the face of authority. Still, neither are a match for Theresa May!

The Mary Whitehouse Award for Puritanical Nanny of the year: Claire Perry
Dishonourable mentions: David Cameron, Helen Goodman

Fairly stiff competition for this award, but Perry wins in for her championing of ineffective, over-blocking Internet filtering systems. Cameron came close by championing of Perry, and Goodman would have loved to have had the chance. Perry, Cameron and Goodman would also have been in the running for the ‘technologically incompetent politician of the year’ award if it were not for the fact that more than 95% of MPs reached world-championship levels of technological incompetence.

Curate’s Egg of the year: Simon Danczuk

Danczuk is a quintessential Curate’s Egg: brilliant in relation to child abuse, abysmal over welfare and even worse about immigration. Tirelessly seeking out the truth about child abuse – but accepting the worst and most damaging of myths over ‘scroungers’ and strangers.

Cock of the year: Penny Mordaunt
Dishonourable mention: Brooks Newmark

It was a close run thing between Penny’s speech and Brooks’ Paisley pyjamas, but Penny’s cock was calculated whilst Brooks’ was essentially a cock-up, so Penny has the edge. She is the cock, rather than just having one.

Peacock of the year: Keith Vaz

Want a quote? Ask Keith. Want a photo? Ask Keith. Want to meet a Romanian at Luton Airport? Ask Keith. You ask for it, Keith will do it, and shake his tail feathers too.

‘The wrong tie’ award for MPs representing the wrong party: Danny Alexander
Dishonourable mention: Tristram Hunt

Danny Alexander just pips the rest of the Lib Dems and pretty much the entire Labour Front Bench for this critical award. He’s a Tory’s Tory, and if it wasn’t for the fact that his constituency is in Scotland he would probably have defected years ago. Tristram Hunt attempts to emulate Alexander’s Tory imitation, mostly by channelling mid-period Michael Gove, but doesn’t have Alexander’s sheer shamelessness in following Tory policy to the finest detail. Nice try though.

The Bulldog Award for persistence: Tom Watson

Not content with taking on Murdoch, Tom Watson is still pursuing the historical sexual abuse cases with patience and persistence – let’s hope 2015 finally starts to see some results.

…and finally…

The Clegg Award for broken promises: George Osborne

Osborne has shown a knack for missing every target he sets himself. He hasn’t quite matched Clegg for direct promise-breaking, nor has he managed an apology, let alone an auto-tuned one, but his record for missing targets is nothing short of remarkable.

10 thoughts on “Politicians of the year…

  1. What about Rent-a-Gob of the year ? They are all Rent-a-Gobs IMO. As demonstrated by the MP who claimed he was a taxi for hire a few years back. I don’t follow Parliamentary politics well enough to decide on this, but I think Penny should be nominated for this category. It was only because her cock speech had a humourous angle that nobody made the point that its a bad thing that an MPs strings were being pulled.

    • It’s a fair point…. but sadly I think Penny’s ‘rent-a-gob’ is just the most obvious of a whole raft of such things. At least it was humorous in a way: most of the better hidden stuff is more sinister and worrying!

  2. Caroline Lucas might win more awards and The Greens’ as a majority government in 2015, something the pundits say will not be achieved by any other party near power.

    The Tories and Labour are merely neck and neck, so we face a 4 party coalition that will mean the Tories continue to rule with their Austerity and wiping out of the state pension, public sector works pensions other than their own best one and any help for the working poor, the 2.6 million poorest pensioners far below the breadline, and the disabled / chronic sick of all ages, even into ther 70s and older.

    The state pension ends with NIL STATE PENSION for life for
    women born from 1953 and men born from 1951
    with the flat rate pension (Pension Bill 2014)
    that gives 70 per cent of rest LESS NOT MORE state pension
    already lowest of all rich nations bar poor Mexico.
    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/state-pension-at-60-now

    It is the over 60s who are the bulk of those left who come out to vote, and The Greens could gain them and get the 326 MPs in England and Wales needed to run a government on their own, without any Coalition partner needed at all.

    If The Greens told the truth about the flat rate pension that is more about the end of the state pension, vital food and fuel money for the poor, in or out of work, as payable if keep job or lose it under the early retirement on works pension on average merely 4 per cent lowest income, under the massive austerity job cuts that will now double to more like 2 million.

    The disabled already pensioners are threatened with losing those benefits, when many are on small military pensions, the even smaller state pension, that altogether still puts them on the breadline.

    The flat rate pension even does not pay out the tiny top up to an even tinier part basic state pension to someone turning 80 in 2016.
    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/state-pension-at-60-now

    The more sign the petition, the more people are aware of the biggest con in UK history of the flat rate pension, and this would add to the pressure on The Greens to have the moral courage to win big in 2015.

    Because not on The Greens’ 2015 manifesto for the general election are winning policies that are new and unique, that would take all the money wasted on benefits admin that is rising by the billions whilst this money is being denied more and more to the starving poor in the UK.

    The Greens’ policy website offers ending the cruel benefits regime and replacing it with:

    – universal and automatic Citizen Income, to all irregardless of employment status, to the level fo the basic tax allowance, so ending starvation for all.

    – Full State Pension for all citizens, irregardless of National Insurance contribution / credit history.

    As half of over 60s denied state pension payout are within the working poor or losing benefit as disabled / chronic sick and unemployed, from a full National Insurance Fund that is wrongly being called in surplus, when this is the non-paid-out state pension since 2013.
    See if you are one of the losers with no food and fuel money in old age:
    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/state-pension-at-60-now

  3. Your new party alignment is showing. I have a lot of time for Caroline Lucas and her campaigning against fracking is admirable and she has been one of few MPs that have led, even sought to re-establish the tradition of civil protest, and done it this year. But to do a politician of the year without, given your interests, mentioning Tom Watson MP who opposed DRIP and was instrumental in winning the concessions of an 18 month sunset clause & a civil oversight board and is applying for judicial review over US/UK Intelligence co-operation, or mentioning Claude Moraes MEP who led the EU’s investigation and response to the Snowden leaks smacks of an over weaning party loyalty. A more broadly based consideration might include Andy Burnham for his leadership of the campaign against the privatisation of the NHS.

    I also think you are harsh over Yvette Cooper. I point you at her speech to Demos,

    http://press.labour.org.uk/post/78448368189/the-challenges-of-a-digital-world-to-our-security

    which I comment on in my wiki,

    http://wiki.davelevy.info/yvette-cooper-at-demos/.

    I list a number of weaknesses but state that it’s better than expected; the Labour Party, even its Front Bench are moving slowly to a more libertarian position and their re-write of RIPA will be closer to our position than that which might be written by the Coalition. This includes David Blunkett who now recognises that his rewrite of RIPA (2004) does not permit sufficient independent judicial regulation. Raising actions taken over 8 years ago, and defeated by a Labour rebellion doesn’t sit well in an annual awards review. In fact if 90 day detention is your touchstone issue, which it shouldn’t be because it never became law, for the Blair Government, then John Reid was the Home Secretary at the time the amendment was introduced. Yvette Cooper has also been one of Labour’s chief spokespersons on Women which makes her a key opponent of UKIP’s misogyny which since we are all provoked by Murdoch’s Times’ award of Politician of the Year to Nigel Farage is important work.

    I recognise that I am as partisan as, maybe more so than, you but I am committed to the digital liberty campaign, we all need to ensure our accuracy and balance when criticising the parties of allies. I shall be working to ensure that Labour maintains a respectful, if robust, dialogue with Greens and hope that you can recognise the need for the support from those allies in the Labour Party and trade unions.

    • Fair points, I have to admit! I wrote the piece in a hurry, on my phone, and didn’t really include all that I should have. I did mention Tom Watson (see the special award) but I should have added his excellence over DRIP too. The reason I mentioned Blunkett rather than the far worse (at the time) Reid is that Blunkett is still in the field – talking publicly about surveillance amongst other things – and at times those interventions are still highly authoritarian. Blunkett is now, finally, calling for more transparency and perhaps accountability – but he certainly doesn’t seem to call for less surveillance. Reid, thank goodness, is only called up by the media in extremis, and doesn’t seem even to be a politician any more.

      I’m afraid I’m far from convinced by Yvette Cooper’s occasional suggestions of liberalism – but I do hope you’re right and I’m wrong. Very little would make me happier than the Labour Party moving that way!

      I’d also like to see a more positive attitude to the Green Party from Labour – and more of a sense that there’s an understanding why people like me have made the decisions that we have, and why we still feel Labour has made far too many compromises and movements to the right. Even today, on the subject of rail, why won’t Labour even consider the idea of renationalisation?

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