Many he might turn to for advice are leaving the stage. The old guard gradually gives up. One by one they slip, after the temporary spotlight of memoir publishing, into respected backbench obscurity. Jack Straw and Alan Johnson both move out of the top 100. Alistair Darling clings on at 28 because of his memoirs. Gordon Brown slips down to 25th place. The most they have to look forward to in their autumn years is being interviewed by the newly ennobled Lord (formerly Peter) Hennessy for one of his great tomes on British History. Lord Hennessy likes to call the House of Lords Hogwarts - which brings us back to the top of the list.

There is something Harry Potterish about the Labour leader Ed Miliband. A young and somewhat unlikely leader and fountain of hope. Ed sits atop the list and must defeat the Dark Lord Cameron and Draco Clegg Malfoy - his LibDem minion. Ed’s own team (Yvette “Hermionie” Cooper and Ed “Wisley” Balls included) seem devoid of new ideas so they have latched on to some very old ones. Blue Labour is the closest thing to a grand narrative that Labour have so far come up with. Maurice Glasman, (Hagrid perhaps) sits here at number 10 because he has the ideas that the leadership are currently listening too. That they amount to little more than the belief that all Labour needs to win is to find out what the core voters want and promise to give it to them - including repackaged sub-Powellite anti-immigration rhetoric - does not amount to a project. A positive narrative is yet to emerge. No one expects detailed policies but they do need a direction of travel or they will just stay at home.

The questions around the leadership have multiplied over the year. Not only can he win an election? But also: Why does it take so long to travel from Devon to Tottenham after a riot? Why aren’t people in chip shops during walkabouts after riots told his name in advance? Many of these questions revolve around staffing. Some progress has been made here. The second highest new entry is Tom Baldwin who comes in at 15 charged with sorting out the press, Polly Billington holds on at 59, Stewart Wood is at 32 - charged with coming up with the big ideas that actually make sense. Still without a formal chief of staff for much of the year, the vacuum was filled by the highly effective Torsten Henrickson-Bell, who is not from Doncaster).

The larger vacuum that has been the official opposition for much of the year is not all the fault of the leader and his team. So far the new intake have failed to really make a breakthrough. Some, like Tristram Hunt, (88) are edging their way up using the media to good effect but not yet putting in the time or the performances in the House of Commons that are demanded of an Opposition. The fall of the old guard and the failure of the new to take control leaves the middle squeezed. This is taking place in the context of a global protest movement against government and the summer of riots. To give a face to this movement of the radical politics of protest, there is a new entry, the blogger: Penny Red. Her sixth form style ramblings are widely consumed on the left and she is in at 57.

While the English left has been floundering, their cousins or second cousins twice removed, in Scotland have formed a government on the deeply socialist agenda of cutting corporation tax. Alex Salmond’s performance in the election against Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray should have been reported to the RSPCA as cruelty. Salmond, up to 5, is the current Rottweiler of UK politics. The decent but outclassed Iain Gray slips out of the list but not out of office - he has not yet been replaced as Leader of the Party in Scotland because no one, it is said, wants the job apart from Blairite MP Tom Harris, who features in our list at 24. Perhaps Gordon Brown could be offered a second chance at leadership? The most effective opponent Salmond has faced, and he does not like being opposed much, is the former Blairite spin doctor, John McTernan (up 28 places) who is fast becoming one of the most influential political journalists in the land. That crown, for the left, still sits on Polly Toynbee’s head and as the fight for new ideas or indeed, any ideas, becomes more heated in the Labour Party so her pieces will continue to be the benchmark.

The other major climbers reflect individual stories rather than a theme. Tom Watson had an excellent Murdoch and goes up 14 places. He might come crashing down next year because it is not clear he has another issue. Jim Murphy goes up 32 places for doing something simple, effective and rarely copied by his colleagues. When given the defence brief he asked former defense ministers what questions he should be asking the government. It is a key example of the importance of using the wisdom of the old guard, it also flatters them and keeps them more securely in the tent. While the admirable Institute of Government has done some work in this area, shadow ministers should follow Murphy’s example.

And then there is Ken Livingstone. Though his connection to reality on issues like Israel and his own alleged links to the Gaddafi regime continue to undermine his credibility, he is the candidate. Suffering the delusion that he was in some way robbed the last time by the Evening Standard, he will lose again and with probably almost as little grace.

It has been a tough year for the top figures on this list and for Ed Miliband in particular, but remember, although it takes hours and hours in the movies, Harry Potter wins in the end. Do not write him off just yet.

  1. (+3) Ed Miliband

Leader of the Labour Party

The leader had a good Murdoch but faltered again during the riots. He is adamant that he will lead the party in his own way and not be swayed by the Blairities who will always want to party like its 1997. Overall, it was a year of two steps forward and one step back. The country still does not know who Ed Miliband is or where he wants to take us. There is no overarching project and yet he is inching forward, more slowly than his brother might have done but also with greater substance. That he does not have a simple one line answer to the multiple problems that confront us should not really surprise us – no one does.

  1. (+5) Ed Balls

Shadow Chancellor

As the spectre of a double dip recession and mutterings about a plan B from the government grow louder, stock in Ed Balls rises. He will never be leader of the party but his ambition burns as brightly as ever and if he is proved right on the economy it will be an immense personal and political vindication. The human voice he found at the end of the leadership campaign has been replaced by the partisan, and it grates, even with people in the party. Nevertheless with Alan Johnson dispatched, Balls is dominant.

  1. (+2) Yvette Cooper

Shadow Home Secretary

While her husband could not win a leadership election, many in the party increasingly feel that Cooper could. She is not less partisan in private but appears more reasonable in public. Her media performances have been confident and she did generally well during the riots. If Miliband flounders the last years psychodrama between the brothers might be replaced by a new struggle between husband and wife!

  1. (-) Tony Blair

Former Prime Minister

As Ed Miliband attempts to stamp his style and approach on the British left, his former leader kicks out in frustration. If only everyone would understand that Labour lost power only when it stopped doing exactly as he said. The project is dead but Blair still dominates British politics, and whenever he speaks the media and the party listen. He seems to be substantially more successful at keeping things awkward for Ed Miliband than he does in his day job of bringing peace to the Middle East.

  1. (+1) Alex Salmond

First Minister for Scotland

Salmond has been the best performing left of centre politician in terms of elections this year. He won an outright majority in a system was that was designed to prevent that happening and the Scottish economy is outperforming the English at present. The question now is if he can deliver the referendum and his desired independence-lite. On this year’s performance you would not put it past him.

  1. (-3) Harriet Harman

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party & Shadow Secretary of State for International Development

As the spotlight switched away from the leadership election, so Harman’s star faded a little, but her triple brief has kept at the forefront of politics. She is an accomplished Commons performer and her restatements and defences of feminism have gone down very well in the party. She has become a great survivor in British politics and if Labour win the next election she will one of the key senior figures still around to run a ministry.

  1. (+14) Tom Watson

Labour MP for West Bromwich East

The Murdochs must have a picture of Tom Watson up somewhere at which they can throw darts. Working with other key backbenchers like Chris Bryant, Watson has had the satisfaction of watching the News of the World fall. Opinion is divided as to how good he was at quizzing Murdoch but what matters is the result. What next for Watson – he needs a new cause.

  1. (+32) Jim Murphy

Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

Very few MPs work as hard or as long as Murphy. He will have a challenge to hold onto his seat in Scotland, but if he does, he will be a major figure in the Labour government or Opposition Mark II. He has scored real hits on defence and got under the under performing Liam Fox’s skin. As Britain fights wars on two fronts and still plays a role in Iraq, defence matters hugely. Murphy has balanced attacking the cuts with realizable about what is possible. The only way is up.

  1. (-) Douglas Alexander

Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

With Scotland lost to the SNP and Ed Balls accelerating to front of the shadows pack, the space for Alexander to shine has been reduced. However, it was, one would have thought, quite an interesting year to be shadowing the foreign office and the Foreign Secretary. But Alexander was not exactly setting the world alight. He has not found a way into the debate with his usual sure touch and seems preoccupied with things other than his brief. No change in his relative position in the party but not a vintage year.

  1. (New) Lord Glasman

Member of the House Lords and Senior Lecturer at London Metropolitan University

Glasman’s Blue Labour ideas were being fed to both of the Miliband brothers during the leadership campaign and for a while it looked like Blue Labour would be Labour’s big idea. Then Glasman called for dialogue with EDL supporters and a temporary stopping of immigration and free movement of Labour. Suddenly a great distanced was introduced. However, he remains the nearest thing to a new idea that has emerged from Labour since the election.

  1. (+44) Ken Livingstone

Former Mayor of London

As candidate for the Labour Party, Ken Livingstone must not repeat his mistake of underestimating Boris Johnson. The election for Mayor of London will be close. Livingstone’s problem is that he never underestimates his own abilities or his right to be Mayor. This might well be his undoing. He is no longer a cheeky left win chap. He is a former Mayor who was kicked out and will, most probably, be rejected again.

  1. (+8) Andrew Rawnsley

Chief Political Commentator, The Observer

Rawnsley survived the change of government with many sources intact and many others welcoming the chance for a free lunch - post expenses. His last book was well received and his columns continue to combine analysis with gossip. The Peter Jenkins of his generation. However, his weakness is Europe. He advocated entry to the euro ten years ago and now, for some strange reason seems unable to write about the subject as well.

  1. (+9) Caroline Lucas

Leader of the Green Party

With the Labour Party remaining quiet the Greens have had a good year. Mixed but generally positive local government election results helped propel Lucas nationally and in the Green Republic of Brighton. Being in power has been a challenge but is working. In a close election with disaffected LibDems looking for a home, Lucas might be joined by more colleagues next time, that is if she can hold onto her massively rejigged seat.

  1. (+25) Polly Toynbee

Journalist & commentator

In Opposition the left does better. Toynbee is increasingly the voice of the left in the board sheet sector. She relishes the critique of the coalition and seems liberated by the end of the Labour government. She has closed the gap on Rawnsley this year.

  1. (New) Tom Baldwin

Director of Strategy to the Leader of the Opposition

A hard living “Fleet Street” thug was brought into the leader’s office to “sort things out”. Injecting professionalism into the operation, he shifted from internal campaign mode to governing the party mode well and the coverage in volume, if not always in tone, has improved. A slight brush with the Murdoch scandal did not stick and although he is influential he has not made the transition yet to being the story. Although if Michael Ashcroft has his way, that may change.

  1. (+10) Mehdi Hasan

Senior Editor (Politics)

Hyper active appearances on Question Time and a solid, thoughtful response to the riots have pushed Hasan further up the list this year. His is the voice of the reasoned left – albeit a very shouty one - and it is a critique that is gaining sympathisers fast.

  1. (+2) Tessa Jowell

Shadow Minister of the Olympics

This will be her year but she has done well over the last one as well. As the games have drawn closer she has managed to shed the “I know better than all of you” tone, so beloved of New Labour Ministers. Her new found humility might be crucial in the tricky role of forming a new government, should it ever happen.

  1. (-16) David Miliband

Leadership candidate

While he remains off the scene officially, he has offered to help his brother with a few things. Aside from tips about when not to eat a banana in public (answer never when there is a camera around) he has been concentrating on community activist training and sulking. For the sake of the Labour Party, it is to be hoped that his sulk will not last as long as Edward Heath’s did when defeated by Thatcher.

  1. (New) Ian McNichol

Labour Party General Secretary

Not the leader’s first choice for General Secretary post, McNicol is a former Union executive and election agent. The election by the NEC was declared to be unanimous. Though Labour has added many new members this year, it is not clear how many members left. The new General Secretary has his work cut out.

  1. (-4) Sadiq Khan

Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

Last year he was a rising start, this year he has risen. A good media performance but he has not established himself to the same extent in the House of Commons. Facing a Department with a myriad of problems and an accident prone Minister, Ken Clarke, Khan could have done better. He remains one to watch but needs to accomplish something now.

  1. (New) John Healey

Shadow Health Secretary

Urbane and charming, just two of the reasons why Healey never made it to the Cabinet under Gordon Brown. Regarded as a safe pair of hands, he could do with a charisma injection, but has made a strong start in his first top flight job.

  1. (-11) Liam Byrne

Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary

Having recovered from the memo he left his successor saying that all the morning had gone, Byrne has emerged as 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, being in charge of the party’s policy review.

  1. (+4) Margaret Hodge

Chairman, Public Accounts Committee

Margaret Hodge has made more comebacks than Lazarus. She owes her high ranking in this year’s list due to her strong performance in her role as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

  1. (+5) 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. Astonishingly overlooked by Ed Miliband for front bench preferment, he now sees his future north of the border and is standing for the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party. His new book WHY I WAS RIGHT will guarantee a high profile in the next few weeks.

  1. (-13) Gordon Brown

Former Prime Minister

Apart from the publication of his less than lauded book on the global financial crash, Brown has entered an Elba style exile and is rarely seen in Westminster nowadays. Licking his political wounds appears to have become a full time occupation, since he was overlooked as the new head of the IMF. It’s difficult to see what role he will now carve out for himself.

  1. (+63) 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.

  1. (New) Len McCluskey

The election of “Ren Len” at the end of last year as head of the Unite marked the final victory of the TGWU faction and the hard left in the battle for control of the super union. This year McCluskey has consolidated his power with the help of his chief-of-staff, Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop the War movement. As Labour’s dominant funder, it is impossible to ignore the influence of Unite, however hard Milband may try to distance himself from McCluskey’s calls for industrial action.

  1. (-13) 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 may slide down this list next year, but the perhaps surprising success of his memoirs mean that as of now, he still remains a figure of influence.

  1. (New) Bob Roberts

Director of Communications to Ed Miliband

The former Political Editor of the Daily Mirror joined Ed Miliband’s team last December and has injected some much needed bite into the press operation. He has formed a powerful double act with Tom Baldwin.

  1. (-22) Andy Burnham

Shadow Education Secretary

Burnham had a good leadership campaign but seems to have been less impressive in the aftermath. Labour colleagues accuse of him of missing open goals in fighting Michael Gove’s education reforms and failing to create any sort of new policy. This may be unfair to an extent, but he needs to up his game in the twelve months ahead.

  1. (-16) Lord Prescott

Former Deputy Prime Minister

Despite being out of power for four years, Lord Prescott, as he doesn’t like to be known, remains a key figure of influence on the voluntary side of the Labour Party and in the media. This partly due to his online presence and ability to start campaigns via Twitter. Who’d have thought it.

  1. (New) Lord Wood

Lord Stewart Wood was Gordon Brown’s gently-spoken Europhile special adviser who drifted in from being a politics don at Magdalen College, Oxford to do some work for Brown and never really left. He failed to get a seat for May 2010 and Ed Miliband rewarded him with a peerage. He’s now tasked with coming up with Labour’s Big Idea. But there’s little sign of it so far.

  1. (-8) Baroness Ashton

EU High Representative

The highest ranking Labour politician on the world stage entered the list last year at number 25. It’s quite difficult to establish what influence she has on anything. She floats around the world without seemingly doing much at all, let alone changing the course of events. But her job title means she remains on the list, albeit in reduced form.

  1. (-) 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. But judging by the turnout and narrow majority in favour of strike action in June, he has some work to do in persuading his members that strikes will achieve anything.

  1. (-12) Jon Cruddas

Labour MP for Dagenham

In some ways it is incredible that Cruddas remains in this list at all. He’s consistently turned down all opportunities to wield power, and even in opposition he’s funked it. But he remains an original thinker, a sort of new generation Frank Field without the balls. If he doesn’t come up with the goods this year, it’s unlikely he’ll figure at all in next year’s list.

  1. (-8) Alastair Campbell

Former Government Director of Communications

Alastair Campbell falls again in this year’s list. He seems to have withdrawn from Labour politics completely, despite the fact that one of his key sources from his time in Number 10 is now Ed Miliband’s Director of Communications. But he still has the ability to grab headlines when he speaks and that means that he has to remain in the top half of this list.

  1. (-2) 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, as Francis Maude and his team are discovering in the talks on the reform on public sector pensions.

  1. (-2) Diane Abbott

Labour MP for Hackney

The idea of Diane Abbott influencing anything would have provoked hollow laughter in Labour Party circles 18 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. She accepted a front bench position shadowing health and she has remained on message and become one of Labour’s best front bench performers.

  1. (+2) 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 starting to flex its muscles now that the Coalition’s cuts agenda is about to be implemented.

  1. (New) David Blanchflower

Economics Editor, New Statesman

The Economics Editor of the New Statesman is also a professor at Darmouth College New Hampshire and the University of Stirling. He has consistently provided a coherent and authoritative critique of the Coalition’s austerity strategy on the economy. He has warned of the effects of the current crisis on young people and urged the government to introduce a jobs stimulus as Obama has done in the US to avoid the creation of a lost generation.

  1. (+41) 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 has 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.

  1. (+17) 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. He has remained a crucial supporter of the Miliband leadership, refusing to follow in the footsteps of those union leaders who have become critical.

  1. (+4) Yasmin Alabhai-Brown

Columnist, The Independent and Evening Standard

Regarded by some as the best radical voice in word and broadcast, she 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.

  1. (+7) 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. However, the train drivers’ section of the RMT continues to leak members to ASLEF, something he seems unable to stem. That tells its own story.

  1. (+4) Steve Richards

Chief Political Commentator, The Independent

Last year, we described Steve Richards as “a fine journalist, at the top of his game”. He continues to write pieces which make people think – and by ‘people’ we mean those at the top of the three political parties. He has the unique talent of attracting praise from all parts of the left and right.

  1. (-14) Sunder Katwala

Director, British Future

Sunder Katwala is one of the nicest people on this list. His tenure as general secretary of the Fabian Society ended this year and re-established the Fabian Society as an organisation at the cutting edge of left of centre thought. He has recently quit the job to start a new immigration policy based think tank.

  1. (+3) Jason Cowley

Editor, New Statesman

An editor with an eye for talent spotting up and coming journalists (cf Mehdi Hasan, Laurie Penny) Cowley continues to produce a left of centre magazine which create the news. His recruitment of guest editors like Rowan Williams has kept the ‘Staggers’ name in the headlines.

  1. (-16) Deborah Mattison

Managing Director, Britain Thinks

As Gordon Brown’s ex pollster it won’t be a surprise to Mattinson to find herself falling on this list, but she remains a player in Labour politics, both as a pundit but also because of her new market research company, Britain Thinks. She has plenty of fresh ideas about how Labour can reconnect with their lost voters, but is anyone listening?

  1. (+5) 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 a vocal critic of Gordon Brown he is establishing himself as a man of ideas which leading Labour politicians would do well to take up.

  1. (-20) Will Straw

Associate Director, IPPR

Once the undoubted rising star of the left of centre blogosphere, Will Straw’s site Left Foot Forward, became essential reading. Since he left, it no longer is. Unassuming and transparently pleasant, Straw’s media profile has taken a hit since he entered the more mundane world of think tank wonkery, but he has brought some great talent to the IPPR which they would do well to exploit to the full.

  1. (New) Chris Bryant

Shadow Justice Spokesman & Labour MP for the Rhondda

Bryant has grown in stature and has blossomed in opposition. After the 2010 election he failed to make the Shadow Cabinet. Instead he was appointed Shadow Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform. However he really came to the fore during the phone hacking scandal, and has been widely attributed as one of the key players in bringing down the News of the World.

  1. (New) Ivan Lewis

Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport

Ivan Lewis was undoubtedly one of the best media performers during the scandal over News International and the Murdoch family. Lewis was given the black spot by Gordon Brown’s henchmen and languished in a series of junior ministerial positions, but he has been one of Labour’s better performers in opposition. In a future reshuffle he may be in line for a deserved promotion.

  1. (+3) Chuka Umunna

Labour MP for Streatham

Umunna has been a solid performer in his 16 months as an MP, gaining experience as Ed Miliband’s PPS and now as a junior shadow business minister. Ummuna has already been touted as a future Labour Party leader but he seems to spend an inordinate amount of time having to live down his ‘star of the future’ billing. He can come across as being far too serious and would do well to let his impish sense of humour shine through from time to time.

  1. (+3) Alan Rusbridger

Editor, The Guardian

The Guardian had a dodgy year in 2009-10. Its editorial line was fuzzy, appearing schizophrenic in its attitude to the Brown government with its columnists regularly performing u-turns on a weekly basis. It smacked of a lack of firm editorial leadership. The last 12 months have seen the paper at the centre of the Wikileaks phenomenon and also the hacking saga.

  1. (+5) 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’s latest campaign is for a change in the law in favour of gay marriage and allowing straight people to have civil partnerships.

  1. (New) Jenni Russell

Columnist & Commentator

Jenni Russell joins the over-crowded field of women journalists on the left– Polly Toynbee, Mary Riddell, Caroline Bennett, Jackie Ashley – who have been writing comment pieces on Labour for 20 years or more. Her BBC producer background has given her a strong list of Labour addresses and she is to be seen at all the fashionable Labour salons in London. She is close to the old Blair modernisers but as she veers from outlet to outlet is an important but marginal voice.

  1. (New) Laurie Penny


Laurie Penny has become one of the most controversial figures on the left, and her well known blog Penny Red has made her a marmite figure in the Westminster village. She gained notoriety when she joined student protestors in Millbank Tower, the home of CCHQ, and tweeted live from within the kettle. Penny’s radical feminist views have gained her a cult following among some, with a large amount of press attention to go with it. She has achieved cult heroine status among radical students.

  1. (+4) Caroline Flint

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government

Caroline Flint has had a quiet start in her new Shadow Cabinet role. She has worked hard at her media profile, abandoned her rather robotic pro-Blairite image, and ought to be a leading player in Labour’s revival in opposition.

  1. (+5) 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 one of his closest confidantes, although some of her influence has been eclipsed by the appointment Tom Baldwin, Torsten Henrickson-Bell and others.

  1. (New) Mary Creagh

Shadow Secretary of State for Defra

Mary Creagh is the clever French-speaking networker who has scored Labour’s biggest hit so far in opposition when she humiliated Caroline Spelman and forced David Cameron into a spectacular u-turn on the selling of national forests. She came out of the Islington Council Labour machine which has been producing top flight women Labour MPs for two decades. Well dug in in her Wakefield constituency, she is popular in the PLP.

  1. (New) Paul Mason

Economics Editor, BBC Newsnight

Mason has been part of the Newsnight team since 2001 and is currently the Economics Editor; he also serves as the NUJ rep for the programme. He has done well out of the global economic downturn. Hardly an episode of Newsnight has gone by since the crash without an appearance by Mason. Aside from his very popular blog which has been nominated twice for the Orwell Prize, he has also written a book entitled “Live Working or Die Fighting: How The Working Class Went Global”.

  1. (+8) 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.

  1. (+9) Peter Hain

Former Secretary of State for Wales

Hain scraped into Ed Miliband’s first shadow cabinet, despite not getting enough votes. He remains a figure of some influence in his role as chairman of Labour’s National Policy Forum. His influence comes as a wise old owl figure in a shadow cabinet of bright young things. His autobiography, due to be published in January, will ensure that he remains in the headlines.

  1. (+9) 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 has already made her mark through her book ‘Why vote Labour?’ and her contribution to the ‘Purple Book’.

  1. (+28) 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 news paper columnist, he knows the Labour Party in Scotland and England inside out, his column is essential reading.

  1. (+9) Nick Pearce

Director, IPPR, former head of policy unit, 10 Downing Street

Since returning to the bosom of the IPPR following a period in Gordon Brown’s Number Ten, Pearce has overseen the revival of the IPPR as a think tank of influence in Labour circles. He has made some astute appointments, including that of Will Straw, which have seen the IPPR’s media profile rise considerably.

  1. (New) Robert Philpot & Richard Angel

Director & Deputy Director, Progress

An effective Progress double-act. Phlipott, a genial social democrat, is a bridge-builder while his deputy Angell, as ultra-Blairite it gets, helps gives the group a more abrasive, factional edge which gets it noticed. Much hyped in advance as a Blairite challenge, the ‘Purple Book’ was published this month in a loyalist code despite Progress doubts about Ed Miliband’s strategic direction. Having been disappointed by David Miliband’s defeat, Progress must now show that the ‘modernising’ wing is about more than nostalgia for the Blair era.

  1. (New) Sion Simon

Former Labour MP

Sion Simon, to most people’s surprise, stood down as an MP at the last election to concentrate on securing Labour’s nomination for the first directly elected mayor of Birmingham. He is the creator of the successful and influential Labour Uncut website, which provides a platform for various left of centre writers.

  1. (-1) Jackie Ashley

Guardian Columnist

Ashley has started to recover from her constant flip flopping prior to the last election and is providing astute analysis of what the Labour Party needs to do to recover its position. But she remains slightly in the shadow of her Guardian colleague, Polly Toynbee.

  1. (New) Nick Lowles

Chief Executive, Searchlight

Lowles probably knows more than Nick Griffin about far right extremism in Britain. The success of his Hope not Hate anti-BNP campaign makes the former investigative journalist the most effective do-tanker on the left, combining Obama-style online engagement with traditional door-knocking in Barking. As in-fighting tears the BNP apart, Searchlight is increasingly focusing on preventive work in areas targeted by the English Defence League with its ‘Together’ campaign, whose sophisticated ‘Fear and Hope’ report assessing the drivers of extremism won praised from David Miliband and Jon Cruddas.

  1. (+19) 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. Her media performances during the riots were impressive and we predict it won’t be long before she is seen as one of Labour’s leading lights.

  1. (New) Owen Jones


Jones started work as a trade union lobbyist after Oxford and had his first book, Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, published in June this year. He is increasingly called upon by the media to give up a ‘left of Labour’ view which he does with consummate skill and confidence. It has been said that he ‘looks like a twelve-year-old, but he can make deadly points in debate’.

  1. (New) Dan Hodges


Dan is the commissioning editor of well-established Left blog, Labour Uncut and blogger for the New Statesman.He is a one-man advocate of a muscular centre-left Labourism and hard-headed analysis of Labour issues. The Spectator has said that the Right should embrace him out of fear that the Left might start to listen to his cogent analysis of Labour travails. Although not universally adored, he is universally read and listened to.

  1. (New) John Kampfner

Chief Executive, Index on Censorship

John Kampfner has been an activist-journalist for 20 years never really staying long in any given position but always platforming himself. Now ensconced at Index on Censorship he may play a role if Labour decides to get serious about media law changes after Hackgate. But he wrote a notorious piece in the Guardian before the May 2010 election explaining why he was voting LibDem. He remains unforgiven.

  1. (New) Torsten Henrickson-Bell

Head of Ed Miliband’s Office

Sometimes, the truly important political advisers are the ones you haven’t heard of. This is certainly the case with Torsten, now Ed Miliband’s Head of Office. Ferociously bright, sharp-witted and politically brave, he is crucial to Miliband’s operation. Originally a high-flying Treasury civil servant, his work as a Private Secretary to then Chief Secretary Yvette Cooper brought his talents to the attention of Labour’s leadership. If Labour prospers over the coming year, it will be in no small part due to the organisational and intellectual rigour he brings to Miliband’s’s office.

  1. (New) Michael Dugher

PPS to Ed Miliband

Another survivor from the Brown Bunker, Dugher is an accomplished media strategist and performer. He succeeded the more urbane Chuka Umunna as the Labour leader’s PPS and will certain provide a little more robustness to Miliband’s private office team.

  1. (+15) 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. He rises this year due to his profile in several select committee enquiries.

  1. (New) Lutfar Rahman

Mayor of Tower Hamlets

Rahman became the first directly elected mayor of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, having been leader of the council for the previous two years. He was expelled by the Labour Party following his selection as mayoral candidate, but fought the election last October as an Independent and won with 51% of the vote. Ken Livingstone has embraced his leadership.

  1. (+18) 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 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.

  1. (New) John McDonnell

Member of Parliament for Hayes & Harlington

McDonnell rejoices in being a leading member of Labour’s left wing awkward squad. But he is not without influence. He is an accomplished single issue campaigner and popular in the trade union movement and has an eye for a good story. Comes across as the voice of sweet reason even when uttering utter left wing claptrap.

  1. (+17) Sally Bercow


There is an argument for placing Sally Bercow much higher in this list, but we don’t want it to go to her head. First to be evicted from the Big Brother house, she has become one of the most (in)famous Labour supporters in the country. Not afraid to speak her mind, either on TV or on Twitter, she either stands on the verge of major league celebrity, or complete self combustion. You decide.

  1. (New) Rowan Williams

Archbishop of Canterbury

If anyone had any doubts about the political affiliations of the “beardy wierdy”, they just had to read the edition of the New Statesman he was asked to guest edit. For once, he came off the fence and nailed his political colours firmly to the left of centre mast.

  1. (New) Evan Harris

Former LibDem MP

Since his election defeat Evan Harris has become the self styled left wing conscience of the LibDems. If there’s a left of centre campaign, he seems to be at the heart of it, be it phone hacking or abortion counselling. With a unique ability to grab the attention of the media, he has also been elected to the LibDems’ Federal Policy Committee.

  1. (+10) 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?

  1. (New) Baroness Williams of Crosby

LibDem Peer

Many left wingers still have a sneaking regard for Shirley Williams and secretly harbour a belief that she remains one of them. Her influence over the watering down of the government’s Health reforms appear to provide some proof.

  1. (New) Chris McLaughlin

Editor, Tribune

Tribune ought to be increasingly important now that Labour is in opposition. Backed by an enthusiastic proprietor,McLaughlin has overseen its transformation back to being a newspaper and his challenge now is to increase its relatively low circulation.

  1. (New) Jonathan Freedland

Columnist, broadcaster & novelist

Freedland has established himself as a top notch writer and broadcaster. A favourite of Radio 4, his documentaries are incisive and original. He is a hugely popular novelist, writing under the nom de plume of Sam Bourne, but it is for his political commentary that he is included in this list.

  1. (+12) 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. One of the brightest and most cerebral of Labour’s 2010 intake, he is also media friendly and tipped for great things.

  1. (New) Gavin Kelly

Director, Resolution Foundation

If Ed Miliband didn’t initially to have pinned down who the ‘squeezed middle’ are, then Gavin Kelly can tell him. The Resolution Foundation’s detailed wonkery on exactly what is happening to living standards for families as wages stay flat and bills rise is being closely watched by the Coalition as well as by the opposition. Kelly managed to maintain his sanity despite working in Gordon Brown’s Downing Street operation, after spells with the Fabians and ippr, and could well define the terms of debate over the key electoral battleground of family living standards.

  1. (New) George Monbiot

Environmental journalist and campaigner

Monbiot makes the list for the first time due to his campaigning on climate change and his recent conversion to the benefits of nuclear power, which enraged his fellow environmentalists. Never knowingly uncontroversial, his books remain both popular and influential.

  1. (-33) 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.

  1. (-6) 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 has positioned Compass behind Ed Miliband. But somehow Compass has never really been embraced by the rest of the Labour movement.

  1. (-8) 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, mean that he stays in our list for a second year.

  1. (-25) Richard Wallace

Editor, Daily Mirror

Wallace clings onto his place in the list despite a continuing decline in his newspaper’s circulation and influence over the Labour Party.

  1. (New) James Macintyre

Political Editor, Prospect

James Macintyre has had a good year, with a new job at Prospect Magazine and a well reviewed co-authored biography of Ed Miliband (with Mehdi Hasan). Also now increasingly heard on the airwaves as a left of centre commentator.

  1. (New) Matt Cavanagh

Research Fellow, IPPR

Among the ex-spads to have done best at carving out an independent identity after government. The ex-Oxford academic and cricket enthuasiast, now working on immigration at ippr, has won praise for his hard-headed and fair minded analysis of both the last government and the Coalition, on crime, home affairs and immigration have been praised by voices from both left and right, including Spectator editor Fraser Nelson. Cavanagh will be more useful than Lord Glasman when Ed Miliband needs to find something sensible to say about that difficult subject.

  1. (-36) Neil Kinnock

Former Leader of the Labour Party

Kinnock was delighted that Ed Miliband won the leadership election. It’s not often he backs a winner. But true to form, he has been marginalised by the current leadership team who seem remarkably ungrateful by the support of a man who still inspires much affection in the voluntary side of the Labour Party.

  1. (New) Sunny Hundal

Editor, Liberal Conspiracy

Hundal made his name with the Asians in the Media website and his blog, Pickled Politics. But he has established Liberal Conspiracy as an influential multi-authored website on the left and is a regular pundit on the media. He urged his readers to vote LibDem in the 2010 election, but three months into the coalition he promptly announced he was joining the Labour Party.

  1. (-54) Lord Mandelson

Former First Secretary of State

Following the publication of his incredibly self serving memoirs, Lord Mandelson has become someone of whom lefties don’t speak in polite society. Indeed, they regard him as a figure on the right. His chapter in The Purple Book is unlikely to aid any rehabilitation effort.

  1. (New) Charles Moore

Columnist, Daily Telegraph

Charles Moore has become an unlikely left wing pinup after his suggestion that the Left might have been right to look at free markets as a “set up” in which “the rich run a global system that allows them to accumulate capital and pay the lowest possible price for labour.”