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The LEFT WING'S TOP 100 2010
100. (NEW) Tristram Hunt
Labour MP for Stoke on Trent Central
Smart and very good on TV, Tristram Hunt survived a backlash against his selection process to win the seat at the general election. He seems to be keeping his head down as he builds a base in his Stoke constituency but he is a key member of the new intake and will feature heavily in the future.
99. (NEW) Sally Bercow
The wife of the speaker has such a high profile that she can command headlines for not sending her kids to a crèche her husband campaigned for the creation of. She is strong willed and highly opinionated and will continue to be rolled out for her views and for her position as speaker’s wife.
98. (NEW) David Aaronovitch
Columnist, The Times
Aaronovitch is back and all over party conference. Columnists seem to have periods like painters in which they suddenly become relevant again. When Aaronovitch moved to the Times he seemed to lose his edge for a while and became rather predictable. A combination of the expenses scandal, the election and changes in world politics have seen a welcome return to form.
97. (NEW) Kate Green
Labour MP for Stretford & Urmston
Coming from the campaigning world of the Child Poverty Action group, Kate Green brings a seriousness and experience to the job of MP. She has already proved effective as an opposition voice and will rise through the ranks. She has supported Ed Balls in the leadership campaign, thereby avoiding a choice between the two possible leaders and will be a key figure in the run up to the next election.
96. (-1) ALEX SMITH
Labour List has continued to improve under Alex Smith but it has not had as much drive and energy as Will Straw’s Left Foot Forward. However, in opposition the blog might become even more important as a focus for debate. Smith backed Ed Miliband in the leadership election but the blog remained neutral.
95. (-1) CHRIS LESLIE
MP Nottingham South
A former minister in the Cabinet Office and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Leslie became director of the New Local Government Network (a policy think-tank) in 2005. Having lost his seat in Parliament at the general election that year, he returned to Parliament in 2010 and backed Ed Balls for the leadership.
94. (NEW) Suzanne Moore
Columnist, Mail on Sunday
Moore is a marmite columnist, even if you’re on the Left. You either love her or hate her. She stood as an independent against Diane Abbott at the 2010 election but failed to trouble the counting agents too much. She is a prolific tweeter. Her column may sit uncomfortably in a newspaper which is far to the right of her own opinions, but she would say, so what?
93. (NEW) John McTernan
A former special adviser to most members of the Cabinet at one time or another, McTernan ended up as a special adviser to Jim Murphy. Now a newspaper columnist, he knows the Labour Party in Scotland and England inside out, his column is essential reading.
92. (-12) KEITH VAZ
Chairman, Home Affairs Select Committee
The most influential backbencher on law and order, he is an essential feature of smooth legislating in the areas he cares about and remains a key fixer. Despite the change of government he clung onto his place of chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee.
91. (NEW) Tony Benn
With the tragic death of the great Michael Foot in 2010, Tony Benn has been elevated to grandfather of the Left. His diaries are a publishing institution, his public appearances sell out and though he did more damage to the Labour Party during his active political career than virtually any other individual, he has now become a national treasure and much loved in the home counties.
90. (NEW) Stella Creasey
Labour MP for Walthamstow
The second of the 2010 intake to make the list, Creasey is young, energetic and is a star of the future in the PLP.
89. (NEW) Carwyn Jones
First Minister of Wales
Jones is the most senior Labour politician in terms of elected office in the UK. He manages the coalition administration with skill and has adopted an open-minded attitude to negotiations with the other coalition in London.
88. (-2) IEUAN WYN JONES
Leader, Plaid Cymru
For now content to sit in coalition, Wyn Jones remains an ambitious politician. 2011 is an election year so we can expect to see a more radical and critical line from Wyn Jones towards both his Labour partners and the coalition.
87. (-90) CHARLIE WHELAN
Former Political Director, UNITE
Unite now largely own the Labour Party and Whelan has been a key figure. In the year that was there was not much he or UNITE could do to save the government. He has fallen along with his old master, Gordon Brown. He resigned his position with UNITE a few weeks ago and is now said to be writing his memoirs.
86. (-51) NEAL LAWSON
Lawson played a role in the demise of the Labour government with his stream of attacks on the government and he looks much more comfortable as an opposition politician than he ever did when Labour were in power. His personal wealth allows him the time to devote to political activism and he positioned Compass behind Ed Miliband in the leadership election.
85. (NEW) Martin Bright
Bright is the political editor of the Jewish Chronicle after being forced out of the New Statesman. He is never frightened of speaking truth to power and is one of the most outstanding political journalists of his generation. This combined with pressure group, a New Deal for the Mind, of which he is CEO, which is a cross party group that seeks to boost employment in the creative industries, has brought him into our list.
84. (-14) BEN BRADSHAW
Former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
The MP for Exeter since 1997, Bradshaw has made the transition to the backbenches with relative ease and is being an energetic figure in the leadership election supporting David Miliband. Some have questioned his long term commitment to politics but for now he will be a leading figure if Miliband senior wins.
83. (-18) BARONESS HELENA KENNEDY
A barrister born and raised in Glasgow, Kennedy is a staunch campaigner for women, human rights, social justice and civil liberties. Often described as ‘The nation’s favourite Portia’, Kennedy is also a well-known writer and broadcaster, and has been chair of both the London International Festival of Theatre and the British Council.
82. (-6) KEVIN MAGUIRE
Associate Editor, The Mirror
The Mirror remains the only mass market newspaper that supports Labour. Its political line is determined by Maguire and the paper backed David Miliband for the leadership. Maguire’s closeness to Brown might have suggested that one of the Ed’s would be the papers pick but what the Mirror likes best is a Labour government and they judged Miliband senior as most able to deliver that.
81. (NEW) Fiona Millar
Education is at the centre of the coalitions reform programme and remains a key political issue. The champion of the State sector, a darling of the teaching unions and a highly effective operator, Millar’s status will go up and up as this debate becomes more intense.
80. (-3) HILARY BENN
Former Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Hilary Benn’s descent down this list began when he dismally failed to win the party’s deputy leadership in 2007. At one point he had even been considered a successor to Tony Blair (see Chris Mullin’s diaries) but his lack of killer instinct and all round nice guy image led people to think that he wasn’t decisive enough. He was widely thought to have been a successful minister both at DEFRA and DFID.
79. (NEW) Gillian Duffy
Mrs Duffy’s name will live on in the political and electoral history of this country like few others. Her face became the symbol of the 2010 election. She almost singlehandedly derailed Labour’s campaign without quite realising it.
78. (NEW) Oona King
Former Labour MP for Bethnal Green
King ran a surprisingly good campaign in her bid to win the London Labour mayoral nomination. It was unlikely she would ever have beaten Ken Livingstone, but just by taking part she has thrust herself back into the limelight. She is expected to take on a key advisory position in the new Labour regime and there will be many pushing her to stand for Parliament again.
77. (NEW) Tony Lloyd
Chair, Parliamentary Labour Party
Former minister Tony Lloyd has managed to steer the Parliamentary Labour Party through some choppy waters over the past twelve months, and for that alone he deserves his place in this list.
76. (-12) BILLY HAYES
General Secretary, Communication Workers Union
Though he has slipped down the rankings, Hayes could be the key player in the confrontation between the coalition and the unions. His union represents the Post Office workers and privatisation will be a defining issue for this government, as failure to privatise was for the last.
75. (NEW) Nick Pearce
Director, IPPR, former head of policy unit, 10 Downing Street
Pearce has returned to the IPPR after his stint in the lion’s den. One of the great mysteries of the Brown years was how someone as decent and nice as Nick stayed alive in Brown’s number ten. He did and he returns to his natural habitat with the challenge of reinventing the IPPR for the Coalition age. New ideas will define the speed of Labour’s return to power and the best are likely to come from Pearce.
74. (-17) Iain Gray
Leader, Scottish Labour Party
Despite an unflamboyant approach, Iain Gray has impressed in his two years as leader of the Scottish Labour Party. His unassuming but reassuring appearance has helped his party in Scotland outperform its English counterpart. It is by no means certain that he will be able to oust Alex Salmond next year, but if he does he can be guaranteed a top 20 place in next year’s list.
73. (NEW) Rachel Reeves
Labour MP for Leeds West
Seen as one of the brightest of the new intake of Labour MPs, Reeves is expected to gain preferment very quickly. Having worked as a Bank of England economist and for the think tank Demos, she is widely respected for her economic expertise. She can be formidable in debate and her Pat Butcher-esque voice is somewhat of a contrast to her sweet and innocent looks.
72. (+25) Peter Hain
Former Secretary of State for Wales
Hain has returned from exile after resigning his office in 2008, when it emerged that he had not declared some £100,000 of donations made while he was campaigning to win the Labour Party’s deputy leadership the previous year. A proud man, his return to the Cabinet in 2009 saw him back in the front line and he is expected to remain a key player in the future as Labour recasts itself in opposition.
71. (+17) Ray Collins
General Secretary, Labour Party
The former TGWU man was a key element in the formation of the mega union UNITE and is a managerial trade unionist. The role of Labour Party General Secretary takes on a new significance in opposition, hence his rise this year. His main challenge will be to keep the party’s finances afloat, as donations from the private sector have all but dried up.
70. (+5) Nicola Sturgeon
Scottish Deputy First Minister
Has the highest public profile of any SNP politician apart from Alex Salmond. Feisty in debate, she is tenacious in interviews and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. First elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, she remains the only realistic successor to Alex Salmond.
69. (-9) Richard Wallace
Editor, Daily Mirror
Wallace continues to preside over a declining newspaper, both in influence and readers. His journalists’ political reporting is seen by Westminster as far too shrill and unquestioningly pro-Brownite to have any influence outside Labour circles at all. But as editor of the only pro-Labour national newspaper, Wallace must remain in the list.
68. (-23) Jackie Ashley
The left wing columnists again plummet down the rankings this year because they have had an unedifying twelve months. Few have flip-flopped more than Jackie Ashley. One week Brown was the Labour Party’s saviour, the next he had to go. She was far from alone in failing to understand which way the electoral wind was blowing, but she is still struggling to regain her previously untarnished credibility.
67. (-43) Nick Brown
Nick Brown’s tenure as chief whip will surely come to an end within the next week or two and with that his influence will almost disappear. Second only to Ed Balls as a leading Gordon Brown acolyte his tough-guy reputation masks a genuinely kind man. His memoirs would certainly be worth reading as he is one of the key players of the Blair/Brown era who really does know where the bodies are buried.
66. (NEW) D J Collins
European Communications Director, Google
The cherubic D J Collins has been a key, behind the scenes, adviser to the Labour Party for more than a decade. He started out in the trade union movement before becoming Head of UK Communications for Google. Various Labour politicians tried to tempt him back into full time politics but he has so far resisted, although he took on an advisory role during the last election campaign. He was a vocal supporter of David Miliband.
65. (NEW) Lisa Tremble
Making the switch from James Purnell’s SPAD to head of media for the David Miliband campaign, Tremble has made an impact. If Miliband senior had won, she would have played a key role in the future of the party, but she is too good to lose and the party would do well to find a role for her. Though not in the photography department as she was at the heart of the photoshopping incident during Purnell’s ministerial career.
64. (NEW) Polly Billington
Chief of Staff to Ed Miliband
The former Radio 1 political correspondent and Today programme reporter shocked everyone when she left broadcast media to be special adviser to Ed Miliband when he joined the Cabinet in 2007. She tried for a seat in the North East at the last election but failed to get selected. Fiercely loyal to Miliband, she is expected to play a key role in his team for some time to come.
63. (NEW) John Hannett
General Secretary, USDAW
USDAW is the main union in the retail sector and is modern and campaigning in outlook. Hannett is a modern leader and has tried to push USDAW in new directions. Unlike other Unions he backed David Miliband for the leadership which suggests a more centre focused approach.
62. (NEW) Caroline Flint
Labour MP for Don Valley
Caroline Flint disappeared from last year’s list after her flouncing resignation from Gordon Brown’s Cabinet. But since then she has worked hard at her media profile, abandoned her rather robotic pro-Blairite image, and could be a leading player in Labour’s revival in opposition.
61. (NEW) Neil Kinnock
Former Leader of the Labour Party
Kinnock has become much more personally involved in Labour politics in the leadership campaign than he was for many years. He endorsed and campaigned for Ed Miliband and his influence has helped to connect with large sections of the party who were never completely reconciled to the new Labour “project”.
60. (+7) Peter Tatchell
Human Rights Campaigner
Peter Tatchell, a civil rights activist, has worked for decades at raising awareness of gay rights issues in the UK through direct action and a good eye for publicity. His influence rests in his ability to get often ignored issues talked about by the media, for example human rights in Zimbabwe. Tatchell is a Green Party candidate in Oxford at the next election. He has had a typically tireless year of campaigning, especially against the visit of the Pope and in favour of gay marriage.
59. (-5) Paul Kenny
General Secretary, GMB
The brutal politics and financial weakness of the Labour Party were made plain when Kenny endorsed Ed Miliband. He implied that if Ed did not win then GMB would withdraw its money from Labour. It was a bluff but it was also the moment at which Ed’s campaign became deadly serious. Kenny has also warned the government that cuts will mean strikes. He will be in a key player in the winter of discontent to come.
58. (+5) John Rentoul
Chief Political Commentator, Independent on Sunday
Rentoul gives lectures on contemporary history, is a former Independent leader writer, and has also written well-received biographies of Tony Blair. His blog has become a must read for political aficionados of every hue. If you want to know what Blair is thinking, chances are Rentoul is the man to tell you.
57. (-13) Alan Rusbridger
Editor, The Guardian
The Guardian has had a difficult year in some ways, often appearing schizophrenic in its attitude to the Brown government and with its columnists regularly performing U turns on a weekly basis. It smacked of a lack of firm editorial leadership, which was also apparent when the paper decided to come out for the Lib Dems in opposition to the views of many of its leading political journalistic lights.
56. (+24) Chuka Ummuna
Labour MP for Streatham
Ummuna has already been touted as a future Labour Party leader at the tender age of 30, while tentative comparisons with Barack Obama have also been drawn. Purportedly a very impressive lawyer, he is expected to be fast-tracked into a junior shadow ministerial post by the new Labour leader. Has spent the months since the election trying to live down his ‘star of the future’ billing.
55. (+18) Ken Livingstone
Former Mayor of London
Ken Livingstone’s rehabilitation in Labour circles was completed on Friday when he was selected as Labour’s candidate to fight Boris Johnson for the London mayoralty in 2012. Many Labour insiders question whether he has learned the lessons of 2008 when he and his campaign team completely misjudged the strength of the Johnson persona.
54. (-4) Phil Collins
Columnist, The Times
Blair’s former speech writer has successfully transformed himself into a leading new Labour opinion-forming columnist via a stint as a leading light in the think tank, DEMOS. Having been vocal critic of Gordon Brown he is establishing himself as a man of ideas which leading Labour politicians would do well to take up.
53. (+2) Matthew Taylor
Director, Royal Society of Arts
Taylor left a hole in the centre of the politics of the left which is yet to be filled. A deeply serious thinker he has energised the RSA and his analysis of contemporary society and politics remains acute and influential. If the Labour Party is to revive then it’s people like Taylor who need to be brought back on board.
52. (-42) Derek Simpson
Joint General Secretary, Unite
The Union barons are back and their potential to rock the government has been clear over the last year as public expenditure cuts loom large. The reason for Simpson’s dramatic decline in the list this year is that his term of office is about to come to a close.
51. (+12) Bob Crow
General Secretary, RMT
Crow calls strikes where others consider talks. He has challenged the government over and over again. He will continue to do so. The most effective left wing union leader in the land. And the one with the biggest mouth. Some are wondering, though, if he has met his match in Boris Johnson.
50 (NEW) Jason Cowley
Editor, New Statesman
Jason Cowley had a hard act to follow when he was appointed to replace John Kampfner as editor of the New Statesman. Better known for his cultural writings, Cowley was viewed with deep suspicion by many NS readers and contributors, but he has overseen a successful redesign and recruited a new political team in Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre, whose respective columns and interviews have become required reading across the political spectrum.
49. (-3) Steve Richards
Chief Political Commentator, The Independent
Steve Richards has bucked the trend of his colleagues this year and managed to keep writing interesting, well-sourced and considered pieces. He is not slavishly anti-government which gives him an edge on many of his colleagues and he has never gone in for the hysteria of others about a Conservative government. A fine journalist, at the top of his game.
48. (NEW) Christine Blower
General Secretary, National Union of Teachers
In the battle ground of education the NUT has already scored a major hit at the Lib Dem conference through the boycotting of “Free Schools”. Blower will take the fight on to the heart of one of the Coalition's flagship policies.
47. (+12) Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
Columnist, The Independent and Evening Standard
Regarded by some as the best radical voice in word and broadcast, she has had a relatively quiet year but remains essential reading. Guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of anyone vaguely on the right, Alibhai-Brown is a popular guest on most current affairs programmes, largely because she will invariably provoke a row.
46. (-20) Frank Field
Labour MP for Birkenhead
Field matters less now that many of his ideas are enshrined in Coalition politics but he still matters. His John the Baptist personae apart, he could still help shape policy in the areas he cares about.
45. (-44) Lord Mandelson
Former First Secretary of State
Few could question Lord Mandelson’s premier position in last year’s list but as the Brown government cranked towards inevitable defeat, the good Lord was unable to work his magic. In the end he appeared to recognise that there was little that could be done. Without his bestselling memoirs Mandelson may have fallen further in this year’s list, but no one can deny that whenever he speaks, he can be guaranteed that his words will be reported. His interventions in the Labour leadership campaign were telling, but did they have real influence? Some think he will become Labour’s Norman Tebbit. A more likely option is that he will take a high profile private sector job and earn real money.
44. (-23) Tony Woodley
Joint General Secretary, Unite
Woodley’s prominent role in the Unite dispute with British Airways has given him a high media profile this year, and he has begun to move out of the shadow of his colleague Derek Simpson, with whom he is said to have a fractious relationship. But like Simpson, he is on his way out, and as such his influence on the wider labour movement will continue to diminish.
43. (-27) Jack Straw
Former Secretary of State for Justice
Jack Straw suffers the ignimony of being beaten by his blogging son in this year’s list. One of the mainstays of New Labour he managed to switch his allegiance from Blair to Brown with no one really thinking it was odd, which demonstrates why he was one of the great survivors of British politics. As he moves away from the political limelight it will be interesting to see what niche he can now carve out for himself.
42. (+41) Pat McFadden
Former Minister of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
A leading member of New Labour’s Scottish mafia, Pat McFadden moved seamlessly from being an apparatchik in Number Ten under Tony Blair to being an MP and middle-ranking Minister under Gordon Brown. He was given the poisoned chalice of the Post Office to deal with and handled it with skill. His rather dour image is unfair, but if he is to progress he needs to develop a more powerful media persona.
41. (-1) Dave Prentis
General Secretary of Unison
The troubles with Unison’s own pension scheme have plagued Prentis for some time but his influence among his fellow trade unionists and within the Labour Party remains undiminished. He didn’t overplay his hand with the Brown government but his union is ready to start flexing its muscles now that the Coalition’s cuts agenda is about to be implemented.
40. (+9) Jim Murphy
Former Secretary of State for Scotland
One of the better performers in Gordon Brown’s final cabinet it is inconceivable that Murphy won’t be elected to the new Labour Shadow Cabinet. The question is whether the new leader will want to move him from the backwater of Scottish politics into a more mainstream portfolio.
39. (-16) Polly Toynbee
Once seen as the doyen of leftish commentators, Polly Toynbee’s halo has slipped this year a little. Like her colleague Jackie Ashley, she indulged in a bout of flip-flopping on Gordon Brown before settling on the position that he was quite useless. She was, however, unhappy with the decision of her paper to back the Liberal Democrats.
38. (+5) Amartya Sen
Sen remains the key thinker in Labour’s development policies and is an important influence on David Miliband. His books, speeches, articles and personal advice have shaped policy on both sides of the Atlantic and his ideas will continue to be heavily influential on the left globally.
37. (-19) Lord Adonis
Head of the Institute of Government
One of the most competent ministers in the Brown government Andrew Adonis played a key role in the abortive Coalition talks. He had intended to write a book on the experience but was then appointed chief executive of the Institute of Government and abandoned the project.
36. (NEW) Diane Abbott
Labour MP for Hackney
The idea of Diane Abbott influencing anything would have provoked hollow laughter in Labour Party circles six months ago. But not now. She knew she wouldn’t win the Labour leadership but she has skillfully used her campaign to promote her own agenda and increase her political profile throughout the media. It was rumoured she might be dropped from BBC2’s This Week after a fallout with Andrew Neil, but happily for her the rumours have turned out to be false.
35. (+13) Brendan Barber
TUC General Secretary
Barber has positioned the TUC well for the future and has tried to avoid the more confrontational attitude of some of his member unions. He comes across as a professional conciliator and his mellow personality means that he can easily be misjudged as a soft touch. He is far from that.
34. (+8) Mark Serwotka
General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union
With many civil servants already having lost their jobs, no sector is more frightened of the impact of public expenditure cuts than the public sector. Serwotka is the cheerleader for his members who fights through the media and on the detail of every attempt to reduce his potential membership. He comes across as eminently reasonable in broadcast debates and is a doughty defender of his members’ interests.
33. (+6) GEOFF MULGAN
Director of Young Foundation and Chair of INVOLVE
For the real ideas of progressive renewal, though without the over ideological or party posturing of Neal Lawson, there is Geoff Mulgan. His fertile mind remains the best source of new ideas that the Labour Party has and whether Labour is in or out of government, Mulgan remains the policy wonk's policy wonk. He may fancy a full time return to help the new leader craft some philosophically-sound policy.
32. (-) Sunder Katwala
General Secretary of the Fabian Society
The Fabians continue to play a role in the battle of ideas within the Labour Party and Katwala is everywhere. The combination of hard research and political analysis has pushed the Fabians up to the top of the Labour think tanks table. Katwala’s Next Left blog manages to be non-tribal but deeply partisan at the same time – a feat in itself. He denies any political ambition of his own, but the new Labour leader would do well to get him onside. He’d make an ideal Head of Policy.
31 (-) Deborah Mattison
Managing Director, Britain Thinks
Mattinson stays at number 31 for the third year in a row. Had she not written her book TALKING TO A BRICK WALL, she would have undoubtedly fallen in this year’s list due to her being frozen out of the Brown inner circle way in advance of the election. But her proposals on how to reconnect Labour with the electorate have been a focal point of discussion in Labour circles for some time now, and as a consequence her media profile has risen.
30. (NEW) Will Straw
Editor, Left Foot Forward
The undoubted rising star of the left of centre blogosphere, Will Straw’s site, Left Foot Forward, has, within two years become the number three political blog in the UK according to Total Politics Magazine. Unassuming and transparently pleasant, Straw has become THE Left of centre go-to blogger for the media. Sounding uncannily like his father Jack, he is an articulate exponent of left of centre views and it will be interesting to see where his career takes him next.
29. (+64) TOM HARRIS
Labour MP for Glasgow South
Probably the best known and best regarded blogging MP, Tom Harris is an unavowed Blairite who ‘gets’ why Labour lost the election and what it must do to regain popularity. He skillfully uses his blog to bolster his own political profile. Inexplicably sacked as a junior transport minister by Gordon Brown, the new Labour leader would do well to make use of his media and communications talents.
28. (-8) ALASTAIR CAMPBELL
Former Government Director of Communications
Alastair Campbell falls in this year’s list but not by much. He played a key strategic role in the election campaign and the Coalition discussions, but that would appear to signal the end of his involvement in frontline politics. However, his ongoing diaries mean that he will remain in the political limelight for some time to come. His blog continues to generate comment and his personality means he is unlikely to stay silent for long.
27. (NEW) Margaret Hodge
Chairman, Public Accounts Committee
Margaret Hodge has made more comebacks than Lazarus. She owes her high ranking in this year’s list in part to her emphatic defeat of the BNP is her Barking constituency, but also to her surprise election as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, which guarantees her a voice on news bulletins in the years to come.
26. (NEW) Mehdi Hasan
Senior Editor (Politics)
Regarded by many as the brightest new light in political journalism, Hasan has made a name for himself in a very short space of time. In addition to his New Statesman job he has become an important voice in the left wing ‘punderati’. Keen to be seen as a journalist who happens to be a muslin rather than the other way around, he is set to go on to bigger and better things.
25. (NEW) Baroness Ashton
EU High Representative
Choosing the top 100 most influential Left-wingers 2010
The highest ranking Labour politician on the world stage enters at number 25. She survived a great deal of briefing against her in the dog days of Brown and is said to be earning respect from his colleagues in Brussells despite experiencing an horrific press in this country.
24. (NEW) Stephen Twigg
Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby
The grin that did for Portillo in 1997 is back. He used his period out of the commons to become an expert on foreign policy and nurse his seat. He was a key figure in David Miliband’s leadership campaign and will feature heavily in the front bench team in opposition under the new leader because of his talent.
23. (-17) Jon Cruddas
Labour MP for Dagenham
The leader of the left has time and again ruled himself out of challenging for the top job and this year he fell in behind David Miliband. He might rally but even some of his strongest supporters have lost patience with him. A prince across the water too long, the political world has moved on and under Ed he will feel left out in the cold.
22. (+6) Caroline Lucas
Leader of the Green Party
The Greens have arrived on the national political scene with a smart and articulate MP who is spreading her message to a much broader audience since the election. She might have greater influence still if the Coalition falls apart but for now she is doing well to keep the Greens alive in the public mind.
21. (+71) Tom Watson
Labour MP for West Bromwich East
Watson has made the transition to Opposition with ease and has lead the charge on a number of key issues, each letter and press release reproduced on his web site. He is a model of the energy needed to sustain the critic of a government and his stock will continue to rise so long as he keeps hitting the targets.
20. (+16) Andrew Rawnsley
Chief Political Commentator, The Observer
Rawnsley has had an amazing run over the last two years and his book on the Coalition will be essential reading. At the heart of Labour politics, this will be his swansong unless Labour make a shock return next year. Though his political analysis remains personality centred, the quality of writing and the seniority of his sources have made him the top political journalist of the new Labour age.
19. (-10) Alan Johnson
Former Home Secretary
Many still believe that Johnson could have been crowned leader of the Labour Party this week if he had held his nerve. But he is from the wrong generation to take on the Coalition and made it plain so often that he did not want the job it became impossible to even give it to him. He will fade fast into the background because Labour usually has only one working class hero at any one time and John Prescott has the job, and because he was so blunt in his dismissal of his new party leader.
18. (+4) John Denham
Former Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government
Denham looks increasingly like the safe pair of hands that the shadow cabinet will need in the trials to come. He is stubbornly popular in the party and well regarded at Westminster.
17. (+2) Tessa Jowell
Former Minister for the Olympics and Minister for London
Jowell remains one of the more thoughtful members of Labour’s team and does not need changes to the gender balance of shadow cabinet to be a key player. She navigated with skill between the Blairs and the Browns and will have a key role as the party rebuilds.
16. (+82) Sadiq Khan
MP for Tooting
Sadiq Khan had an excellent leadership campaign, and has continued to raise his profile. He will emerge as a force in opposition: a key figure to watch. He is close to Ed Miliband and will be a key figure in the new regime.
15. (-10) Alistair Darling
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer
No other politician on the Labour side has retained their dignity quite as well as Darling. He defended himself as Chancellor and emerged from the wreckage as a substantial politician. He will slide quickly from this list but as he does so he will become an elder statesmen in the party, his reputation largely intact.
14. (+3) Lord Prescott
Former Deputy Prime Minister
Prescott had a good campaign in his usual style, remains active online and has tenaciously tried to win the party’s treasurership. For the time being he will be loyal to the leadership but his potential to mobilise the membership and rock the boat remain immense. There could well be clashesbetween him and Ed as the process of modernisation begins.
13. (+2) James Purnell
A comeback based on ideas is rare in British politics but Purnell is doing it. Having resigned from office in principle he has now set about redefining the left and its ideology. It is an exciting project and may well come to shape the future of the left.
12. (-11) Gordon Brown
Former Prime Minister
So what now for Gordon? The book will be big and important, the equivalent of Nigel Lawson’s “View from Number 10”. And then, who knows? This must have been the worst year of his political life personally. His frustration was evident, as was the grace with which he finally let go of power and we finally saw the human being within. Never write him off, he will be back on the world stage in a big job before very long.
11. (+19) Liam Byrne
Former Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Having recovered from the memo he left his successor saying that all the money had gone, Byrne has emerged a major player in opposition. He is one the few Labour politicians capable of independent and original thought. He will be key to shaping the policy of the future.
10. Simon Hughes
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats
The leader of the internal opposition to the Coalition, Hughes is now a key figure on the left. Labour watch him carefully and wait. At some point the internal contradictions of the Coalition will explode, as they do in all Coalitions. How Hughes then behaves will be key.
9. (+24) Douglas Alexander
Former Secretary of State for International Development
By backing David Miliband, Alexander has brought unity to the churches of Blair and Brown. His position will reflect this in the new regime and he will flourish under Ed. Never destined for the top spot, he is young and experienced enough to have a bright ministerial future ahead of him if Labour get back in.
8. (+17) Andy Burnham
Burnham has done himself a lot of good during the leadership campaign. Many on the left voted with their hearts for him, knowing that he could not and should not win. The qualities have been as obvious as the limitations, but this is a work in progress, and there is much more to come from Burnham.
7. (+6) Ed Balls
Former Schools Secretary
Towards the end of the leadership campaign, Ed Balls suddenly began speaking like a human being. His intellect and passion seemed to meet for the first time before coming out of his mouth and those watching finally saw what has propelled him to the top of new Labour. He has worked hard to get himself so central to the outcome of the leadership election. But he lost. His fate now lies in Ed Miliband’s hands.
6. (+6) Alex Salmond
First Minister for Scotland
As he prepares for the 2011 poll, Salmond is the most senior left of centre politician in the UK. Having had a good start with Coalition, everything will now depend on the outcome of the spend review and the impact of the cuts on Scotland. The Labour revival is a worry but he will still have a few cards up his sleeve between now and the election.
5 (+24) Yvette Cooper
Former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
By not running, Cooper has had a better leadership election than her husband. With Ed’s victory expect to see Cooper rise. She will do well in shadow cabinet and having weathered the expenses storm, will become a front bench fixture. Some tip her to beat her husband to the shadow chancellorship, but that would leave Balls on the outside looking in – it is one of the first tough decisions Ed will have to make.
4. (+10) Tony Blair
Former Prime Minister
Just when you thought it was safe to go into a bookshop: he is back. Hogging the headlines, intervening in the leadership election, failing to make peace in the Middle East, raking in the money across the globe, Blair is the first ex-PM franchise. For now he is back and in the frontline. It cannot last. But then that is what his critics said in 1997.
3. (-) Harriet Harman
Deputy Leader of Labour Party
Harman will be a key to the transition to the new generation of Labour leaders. She is key to the future of the party and moves to the position of elder statesperson with ease. She will slip down this list over the next year but she has earned the gratitude of the party and is now regarded with much more affection than she once was.
2. (+6) David Miliband
There was no coronation, no acceptance that all that is needed is more new Labour and no victory for the big donors. Miliband snr lost the argument during the campaign and lost the vote in the union section. He had created the expectation that this would be a coronation and when it was not he had only himself to blame. He will need to rebuild a relationship with his brother and with the constituency his brother represents. Or we may see him make an early exit from front line politics altogether.
1. (+3) Ed Miliband
Leader of the Labour Party
Ed Miliband won the leadership vote and the campaign. He has transformed his personal position in the party and redefined the politics of Labour in opposition. It is a huge mistake to suggest he represents a swing to the left, rather his campaign and the power he now wields within the party represents the view that what worked in 1997 will not work again. He will determine if Labour moves in a new direction or is defeated as a lukewarm version of new Labour mark 2. The challenge he faces is immense but the Conservsatives should not underestimate him. He is not in the pocket of the Unions, nor is he throw back to the militant tendency. He has the potential, like Blair before him, to be the great political communicator ofthis generation. He has already proved he is a great tactician.
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