The top lefties list this year delivers a simple message: success is more stable than failure. The top 100 Lefties sees a significant set of changes from last year, including 43 new entries in the top 100 and 4 new entries in the top ten, to be revealed on Wednesday. The bottom of the table sees new entries from the Trade Unions and the decline of some well established think tanks. The outside left – Respect et al – has all but disappeared over the last year as the surge in Iraq has worked and more on the left wake up to their fellow travelling with Islamists. The turmoil in the Labour Party has brought some former ministers back into the frame as their potential to damage Brown increases their power but the real surprise is the return of some Blairites who many thought had disappeared from the scene, including the disgraced Derek Draper and other supporters of the former PM who many thought would have been swept away by the Brown tide. There is another retread – this time a Brown acolyte - very high up the list. Who would have thought Charlie Whelan would be hitting the political big time again? How high is he? You will find out on Tuesday or Wednesday...
1.(-) GORDON BROWN
Despite his ongoing travails, there is no doubt that Gordon Brown’s grip on the Labour Party machine and the levers of power is still strong, albeit diminishing. His ability to wreak revenge on those who gainsay him is still legendary. His ability to remain in pole position in twelve months time is far less certain.
2. (+2) DAVID MILIBAND
There’s little doubt that David Miliband’s reputation and influence have been enhanced over the previous twelve months. The very fact that he has made clear he won’t be reshuffled to the Treasury demonstrates his power. One of the few Labour intellectuals who is able to articulate a vision, the next twelve months may well tell if he has the courage needed to go all the way in politics.
3. (-) ALEX SALMOND
First Minister for Scotland
Last year we wondered if the Scottish First Minister would appear in the top echelons of this list a year hence. Salmond’s performance has exceeded all expectations. We debated whether his excellent first year in office should see him rise one place, if (whisper it) not two. He has trampled on all opposition, barely put a foot wrong and is more popular than ever – a situation his counterpart across the border can only envy.
4. (+13) ED MILIBAND
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Manifesto Co-ordinator
Ed Miliband threatens to eclipse his older brother. In his role as manifesto coordinator he has impressed party activists and unions alike and he is one of the few senior Labour figures who is able to give an inspirational speech without notes. He remains close to Gordon Brown and was horrified by the aftermath of his brother’s Guardian article.
5. ED BALLS
Secretary of State for Children, Schools & Families
Totally reliant on Gordon Brown’s patronage. Widely disliked in the wider Labour movement he has made an uncomfortable start in the media spotlight. But when Gordon wants advice or to canvas opinion, Balls’s mobile number is among the first he dials. Still.
6. (+3) HARRIET HARMAN
Chair of Labour Party and Leader of House of Commons
Last year, we asked if Harriet Harman’s reinvention could last. It has, and the some. One of the few to have the courage to tell Brown when he’s wrong, though she is frequently overruled, she has cemented her position as the party’s conscience. Nevertheless, while Brown hears what she says, he rarely listens. There is little doubt that Harman would be a candidate in the Brown succession, and after her surprise win in the deputy leadership election last year, few now underestimate her.
7. (+8) DAMIAN McBRIDE
Special Advisor (Communications), Number Ten Downing Street
Christened Damian McPoison by Peter Mandelson (and he should know), McBride is a no nonsense, shoot from the hip spin doctor, very much in the Charlie Whelan mould. He’s both feared and respected by lobby journalists but they know that he’s close to the PM, so therefore of considerable influence in projecting the Brown message. His stock has risen with Brown over the last twelve months through his repeated displays of loyalty.
8. (+26) JAMES PURNELL
Secretary of State for Work & Pensions
Young, smart and articulate, James Purnell was the great survivor among the Blairites, and was also just about the only non-Brownite to be promoted on ability. His move to Work & Pensions was merited and he has shown a calmness in a job littered with bear traps. He has also show himself as a radical who doesn’t fear dramatic reform.
9. (+1) DEREK SIMPSON
Joint General Secretary, Unite
The former leader of Amicus is no less influential in his new joint-leader position within the massive new Unite trade union. An archetypal devil-may-care old style union leader, Simpson has it within his power to create real industrial problems for Gordon Brown. His public dismissal of David Miliband just before the TUC Conference was a deliberate attempt to show his union’s political muscle.
10. (NEW) TOM WATSON
Junior Cabinet Office Minister
Many will be surprised to see a junior minister so high up this list. But there are a handful of people who Gordon Brown speaks to every day. Tom Watson is one of them. A loyalist to the last, Watson is a doughty defender of the Prime Minister. He is also one of the few Labour MPs who understand the power of the internet in political campaigning.
11. (NEW) CHARLIE WHELAN
Director of Communications, UNITE
The reemergence of Charlie Whelan as a major political player has caused much heartache among Blairites. But he has been deployed by Gordon Brown behind the scenes to cobble together deals, and he was behind his boss Derek Simpson’s destruction of David Miliband a fortnight ago. He has also persuaded his own union – and others – to keep the Labour Party afloat financially.
12. (-10) TONY BLAIR
Former Prime Minister
Tony Blair’s legacy to the Labour Party is the semi permanence of the New Labour project which he fashioned with Mandelson, Campbell and Gordon Brown. Brown’s attempts to draw clear blue water with the Blair years are totemic but delusional. As time moves on, Blair’s influence is gradually on the wane, in part due to the fact that he has spent much of the last twelve months out of the country.
13. (-7) JACK STRAW
Secretary of State for Justice
Having run Gordon Brown’s leadership campaign, Jack Straw has proved he’s the great New Labour survivor. However, in recent months the Prime Minister has become wary of his motives. His gradual distancing of himself from Brown has not gone unnoticed either by the PM or political journalists.
14. (-1) ALAN JOHNSON
Secretary of State for Health
Johnson emerged from the Deputy Leadership campaign slightly damaged by not winning, but his cheeky chappy appeal across the Labour Party ensures continuing inference. The only leading Labour Minister Conservatives genuinely fear, he may have been rather too early in ruling himself out of any future leadership contest.
15. (NEW) STEPHEN CARTER
Chief of Strategy, Number Ten Downing Street
Carter has failed to make a real impact since his arrival in Number Ten in January from the PR company, Brunswick. He has lately been sidelined and there were even rumours of a demotion. Rather than create a strategy he seems to have been behind a series of short term measures, although his defenders point to the fact that he hasn’t been allowed to do his job. If he had, he would be in our top ten.
16. (+4) POLLY TOYNBEE
Columnist, The Guardian
Possibly the most influential, but at the same time, reviled, columnist on the left. She’s the ‘leftie’ journalist the right love to hate, but everyone knows she’s taken very seriously in Downing Street and beyond.
17. (-1) SUE NYE
Private Secretary to Gordon Brown
Why is a mere private secretary so high up in this list? Because Sue Nye (married to former BBC chairman Gavyn Davies) held the post for Michael Foot and then Neil Kinnock: she is the gatekeeper. She decides who gets to see Gordon Brown, and perhaps more importantly who doesn’t.
18. (+5) GEOFF HOON
Hoon is one of the great survivors of British politics. Deeply offended by his removal from the Cabinet by Blair, he lost no time in hitching himself to the Brown bandwagon and was rewarded by being made Chief Whip. However, it is said he is being undermined by his deputy, Nick Brown, who is one of Brown’s oldest friends. If Brown is told to go, Hoon will be part of the group which tells him his time is up.
19. (NEW) DAVID MUIR
The arrival of David Muir from advertising agency WPP made a big difference to the inside workings of number 10, if not to the outside impact. The director of political strategy has a tough job to which he brings a gift for language and huge amounts of energy. If he fails in his task of turning the ship round, no one can say it is because he did not work hard enough.
20. (-9) JACQUI SMITH
Plucked out of nowhere to take on one of the toughest jobs in politics, she has had a difficult year. It started brilliantly but a series of Home Office disasters have left colleagues wondering if she will be in the job for much longer. Her strength is the fact she is liked by everyone.
21. (+6) TONY WOODLEY
Joint General Secretary, Unite
Woodley is further down the list than his colleague Derek Simpson, in part because he doesn’t have the same media profile or influence. He still seems to live in the shadow of his predecessor as leader of the TGWU, Bill Morris.
22. (NEW) NICK BROWN
Deputy Chief Whip
Labour insiders believe it is only a matter of time before Nick Brown takes over from Geoff Hoon as Chief Whip. Brown’s loyalty to the Prime Minister is well known and his influence through the whips’ office is increasingly felt by his parliamentary colleagues.
23. (NEW) JACKIE ASHLEY
Columnist, The Guardian
In the last six months Ashley has metamorphosed from Brownite cheerleader in chief, to arch critic. Her columns are now read with as much interest as those by her Guardian colleague, Polly Toynbee.
24. (+13) ALISTAIR DARLING
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Darling was ranked so law last year because no one believed he would be running economic policy. He rises this year, not because he has had a successful twelve months, but because he has asserted a bit of independence.
25. (+4) ANDREW RAWNSLEY
Chief Political Commentator, The Observer
Rawnsley is without doubt the leading Sunday newspaper journalist on the left and an insider in the New Labour project from early on. Sometimes a critic but usually a reliable friend of the Labour Party, Rawnsley has been an essential read in the last six months as he doled out unwelcome advice to the Prime Minister and his supporters.
26. (-18) DOUGLAS ALEXANDER
Secretary of State for International Development & Labour General Election Coordinator
Alexander’s influence flickered out on the day Brown failed to call a general election. Although he is still, on the face of it, one of Brown’s inner circle, he no longer enjoys the influence he once did. The political demise of his sister Wendy in Scotland has also weakened his position.
27. (NEW) JOHN HUTTON
Secretary of State for Business, Regulation & Enterprise
Possibly the most successful cabinet minister of the last twelve months. His quiet, assured approach to his job has attracted plaudits from business. Hutton is quite possibly an each way bet as next Labour leader.
28. (-2) BARONESS SHRITI VADERA
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Business, Regulation & Enterprise
Vadera is Gordon Brown’s economic guru and spent eight years working in the Treasury as his chief economic adviser. She doesn’t mind courting unpopularity and calls a spade a spade. Still exterts huge influence on Number Ten.
29. (NEW) ALASTAIR CAMPBELL
Former Government Director of Communications
While Alastair Campbell has no officially defined role, he regularly appears on the media defending Gordon Brown and the Labour government in times of turmoil. His role behind the scenes is unknown, but it’s rumoured that he is keen to step in and be seen as the savior of the Labour Party. There’s little doubt that the Labour communications team misses his talents.
30. (-12) BRENDAN BARBER
General Secretary, Trades Union Congress
Not so long ago the holder of the post of TUC General Secretary would have appeared at number one on this list, ahead of the Prime Minister. Barber continues to preside over falling union membership and his influence has been slowly taken by individual union general secretaries.
31. (-19) DEBORAH MATTINSON
Managing Director, Opinion Leader Research
Mattinson has been edged out from her former position of huge influence in Number Ten, and her role in the Smith Institute means she has dropped like a stone in this year’s list. She still conducts the citizen jury programme, but that’s about it.
32. (NEW) JOE IRVINE
As the crisis deepens in the government, the Unions become ever more important. The former TGWU man, is trusted in the Trade Union movement and is now Brown’s political fixer. With David Muir he has filled the gap left by the departure of Spencer Livermore, the main advocate of an early election and the main victim of the decision not to call it.
33. (-2) DAN CORRY
Head of the Number Ten Policy Unit
Corry is the doyen of special advisers. He’s managed to stay out of trouble, largely out of the headlines, aside from one unfortunate memo about the political views of the Kings Cross rail disaster survivors. Corry has held a succession of key jobs – Chair of Council of Economic Advisers and Head of the New Local Government Network among them. His current position enables him to influence government policy across the board.
34. (+14) LIAM BYRNE
Minister of State, Home Office
Byrne is the Minister for Immigration and is probably the most articulate and talented Labour minister outside the Cabinet. Clearly spoken and quickly on top of a difficult brief, some reckon he would be a full Cabinet member if he weren’t bald.
35. (+47) IAN AUSTIN MP
PPS to the Prime Minister
Ian Austin is one of the key members of Brown’s inner circle and attends Cabinet. He is a quietly effective operator behind the scenes of Westminster politics, ultra loyal and prepared to come out fighting when needed, especially if it involves barracking the leader of the opposition. Sometimes goes over the top, but he has successful seen off an attempt by Stephen Carter to oust him.
36. (+24) SHAMI CHAKRABARTI
Despite being a thorn in the flesh of Home Office Ministers Chakrabarti has been one of the few voices able to articulate a real civil liberties agenda. She’s one of the few chief executives of a pressure group whose calls will always be taken by Cabinet Ministers.
37. (NEW) FRANK FIELD
Labour MP for Birkenhead
When Frank Field speaks, the media listens. He singlehandedly caused the U Turn over 10p tax, although his animosity towards the PM caused him to slightly overplay his hand. Still one of Labour’s leading thinkers on social exclusion it is a tragedy that his talents have not been deployed better. His recent link up with the Conservatives on immigration might mean that his unfulfilled ambition might be leading him towards doing a Woodward.
38. (NEW) YVETTE COOPER
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Her promotion to one of the most important jobs in government ensures her place on this list. She’s regarded as Gordon Brown’s eyes and ears in the Treasury. She has a high media profile and is wheeled out whenever there’s a crisis mainly because of her ability to play a straight bat.
39. (NEW) SHAUN WOODWARD
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
The former Tory communications chief has become one of Gordon Brown’s inner circle in recent months, although no one quite knows how it happened. He is now tipped for a promotion in the next reshuffle. Defence has been mentioned, albeit to howls of laughter from Tories.
40. (-4) KEVIN MAGUIRE
Associate Editor, The Mirror
Kevin Maguire is known as the journalist closest to the PM and has not lost his bite since Brown came to power. His power and influence on the left is based not only on his ability to break stories himself but to leak key things that the PM wants out. He was approached by Brown to be his Communications chief but said no. Unpopular with some, he was blamed for coming up with the idea to paint the Tory candidate as a toff in the Crewe & Nantwich by-election.
41. (NEW) CATHY ASHTON
Leader of the House of Lords
Baroness Ashton is married to YouGov pollster Peter Kellner and has made a quiet impact in her new job. She has managed to avoid controversy and to unite her fellow Labour Peers in a way her counterparts in the House of Commons have found impossible.
42. (-4) ANDY BURNHAM
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Burnham was another rising star in the government, but his ill-judged comments on the nature of Shami Chakrabarti’s relationship with David Davis led many to wonder if he was, after all, a man of judgement. Hence he falls a few places this year.
43. (-1) ALAN RUSBRIDGER
Editor of The Guardian
Rusbridger is said to be the only person alive who could have kept the egos and the ideologies at the UK’s top left wing newspaper under some semblance of control.. His considerable commercial ability combined with shrew political antennae has seen the Guardian fight off a challenge from the Independent in recent years and his paper remains the natural home of the left.
44. (NEW) CAROLINE FLINT
Minister for Housing
Flint has had a high profile twelve months, appearing constantly on the media. One step away from being a full member of the Cabinet, she has attracted jealousy from colleagues who think she has got a little above herself.
45. (-1) NEAL LAWSON
Made his name with the lobbyists LLM, Lawson set up Compass as a pressure group within the Labour Party to rival the more Blairite Progress. Compass’s media profile has been raised this year, but Lawson himself remains deeply unpopular among many parts of the Labour Party which means his organisation’s influence is adversely affected.
46. (NEW) ROWAN WILLIAMS
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Church traditionally stays out of politics in the UK except when sexuality and social issues are concerned. Williams has put the Church back into the political frame by raising awkward issues for the government and facing centrally the issue of Islam. His political clout has been undermined at times by internal politics of=2 0the Church itself, but as politics moves ever more centrally, Williams may end being all that remains of old left.
47. (-14) JACK DROMEY
Treasurer of the Labour Party
Jack Dromey a veteran trade unionist and Treasurer of the Labour Party was crucial in managing to keep the party somehow distanced from the cash for peerages scandal. He was the modernisers’ choice to removal Bill Morris from the General Secretaryship of the TGWU and survives as deputy in the merged UNITE Union.
48. (-29) WILF STEVENSON
Friend of Gordon Brown
A long time friend of Gordon Brown, Stevenson has now left the ailing Smith Institute after being blamed for the charity lapsing into political partisanship. He has become an informal adviser in Number Ten, but with no defined role.
49. (-21) RHODRI MORGAN
First Minister for Wales
Morgan is a political survivor, but he has yet to develop into a political statesman. He doesn’t have the same powers as the Scottish First Minister, but what he lacks in power he makes up for in volubility. His position as First Minister is highly tenuous, being dependent on the goodwill of Plaid Cymru. His influence on the left is on the wane as he has made clear he will stand down before the next Assembly elections.
50. (+8) CAROLINE LUCAS
Leader of the Green Party
If George Monbiot is the acceptable face of environmentalism, Caroline Lucas is the acceptable face of the Green Party. She’s standing in Brighton Pavillion at the next election and is one of the Greens’ most powerful debators. Her crushing victory in the Greens’ leadership election earlier this month ensures her rising position in this list.
51. (-27) TREVOR PHILLIPS
Chair, Commission for Equality & Human Rights
Phillips’s new position gives him sweeping powers and influence and has led to him being dubbed the “Political Correctness Czar”. A great survivor, he has developed some well thought out views on the failures of multiculturalism which have made him enemies on the left. But his profile has fallen this year, hence his lower position.
52. (NEW) DAVE PRENTIS
General Secretary, UNISON
Also President of the TUC, Prentis is a canny operator, increasingly exerting pressure on the Labour Party to change its policies on public services. He is careful not to antagonize and wants to maintain an open dialogue with all sections of the Labour Party.
53. (NEW) JOHN DENHAM
Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities & Skills
Denham joined the Cabinet last year, having acquired a first class reputation as chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee. In all honesty his impact in the Cabinet has been weaker than many expected.
54. (-4) MARK SERWOTKA
General Secretary, Public & Commercial Services Union
Along with Bob Crow, Serwotka is one of the most extreme left union leaders in the country. He supports George Galloway’s Respect party. He won’t accept his full salary entitlement and sounds far more moderate in media interviews than he actually is.
55. (-20) YASMIN ALIBHAI-BROWN
Columnist, The Independent
A prolific journalist who navigates the racial politics of the contemporary left with such skill and intelligence that all sides have to listen – even if they often attack her work as offensive to Islam or apologetic for terrorism. Close to the government in the early New Labour era she moved away on Iraq and is now totally disillusioned with the Brown government.
56. (NEW) 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 is now seen as Alex Salmond’s inevitable successor.
57. (NEW) JIM MURPHY
Minister for Europe
Jim Murphy is widely thought to have performed well in his current office, despite the disasters of the Lisbon Treaty. He is a good bet for Cabinet promotion if and when there is a reshuffle. A calm and reassuring media performer.
58. (-12) HAZEL BLEARS
Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government
The chipmunk-esque Blears did herself no harm in a feisty, if futile, deputy leadership campaign, which began with her being seen as an uber-Blairite and ended with her being promoted by Gordon Brown to Secretary of State. However, critics reckon she is unlikely to survive a reshuffle.
59. (-4) GEORGE MONBIOT
Environmental campaigner and writer
George Monbiot is an irritant to both the right and left, and because of that is increasingly influential. The son of a Tory grandee, Monbiot is an ideological green purist who has an uncanny ability to court media interest in his causes. He’s replaced Jonathan Porritt as the acceptable face of environmentalism.
60. (NEW) RICHARD WALLACE
Editor, Daily Mirror
In the last twelve months the Mirror has reverted to its traditional, almost unquestioning support for Labour, and more importantly, Gordon Brown. A measure of the paper’s new found influence on the left, is that the Conservative Party has virtually broken off diplomatic relations after a furious row between Wallace and David Cameron.
61. (-4) MATTHEW TAYLOR
Director, Royal Society of Arts
In Tony Blair’s final years Matthew Taylor would have been in the top ten in any list of influential people on the left. A former director of the Institute for Public Policy Research he decided to get out of politics and although his influence might be thought to be on the wane, he’s now a much sought after commentator on left of centre politics.
62. (NEW) IAIN GRAY
Leader, Scottish Labour Party
Iain Gray has taken on the poisoned chalice of leading the Scottish Labour Party at the time when it is at its nadir. He’s unlikely to enjoy the job as he seeks to rejuvenate the Party after the disastrous leadership of Wendy Alexander.
63. (+4) SIR JEREMY BEECHAM
Vice Chairman, Local Government Association
This former leader of Newcastle City Council has long been Labour’s most influential voice in local government and remains so today.
64. (NEW) RICHARD REEVES
Richard Reeves has taken on the poisoned chalice of leftist think tanks. His immediate predecessors in the job have lasted less than a year each. Bright, fluent and innovative, Reeves stands a good chance of reviving the fortunes of a think tank which was at the forefront of the Blairite revolution, but has since lost its way.
65. (+32) SUNDER KATWALA
General Secretary, Fabian Society
The Fabian Society is the main and the oldest socialist society affiliated to the Labour Party which operates as a think tank. Highly influential under Blair, it has come back into the game under Katwala, who combines being extremely well-informed and articulate with an unusual degree of niceness for this level of politics.
66. (-25) 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.
67. (-24) JON CRUDDAS MP
Labour MP for Dagenham
Jon Cruddas may have failed in his bid for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party but he remains a huge figure among the grass roots of the Labour Party. However, his failure to accept a party position under Brown and his reluctance to be the standard bearer of opposition to the PM, mean that he drops like a stone in this year’s list.
68. (NEW) SIR ALAN SUGAR
The businessman turned TV star has outspoken views and an ego to match. Perhaps a loose canon but he might just have the celebratory appeal and Bloomberg style entrepreneurial zip to be Labour’s candidate to beat Boris. It would be fun to see the selection meeting against Ken Livingston anyway.
69. (NEW) LISA HARKER AND CAREY OPPENHEIM
The leading Labour think tank has opened its doors to the new direction in British politics by flirting with some Tories, but not much. Inside there is still a strong sense of loyalty to Labour. The new co-directors have been more effective in internal management than in external impact, but IPPR’s resources and quality of its staff, remain significant assets. If Labour go into opposition, the new ideas will come from this Covent Garden office.
70. (-5) CLAIRE FOX
Director, Institute of Ideas
Is she left wing or right wing? Having spent twenty years in the Revolutionary Communist Party you’d think the former, but she’s a stout defender of freedom of speech and small government. Her controversial views have led to a burgeoning career in media punditry.
71. (-21) BOB CROW
General Secretary, RMT
Britain’s most belligerent trade union leader, Crow is worshipped by his adoring members, especially when he calls them out on strike. His power to bring London to a halt (usually every other year) is testament to his influence.
72. (NEW) MIKE DANSON
The new kid on the media owners block, Mike Danson is a Labour loyalist who bought the New Statesman and Labour Home this year. It places him from nowhere into the front rank of Labour backers. The jury is out at the Statesman as to what kind of an owner he will be.
73. (NEW) DIANE HAYTER
Diane Hayter is a career political activist, well liked in the party and completely loyal. Hayter’s role in the chair at the NEC during the leadership crisis has been and will continue to be crucial. While rebels demand nomination papers be sent out, Hayter delivers an unanimous vote against such a move ensuring that there will be no contest. The importance of the NEC has grown over the last year of Labour decline, it will continue to do so.
74. (NEW) ALAN MILBURN
There is a spring back in the step of many old Blairites. There are scenarios being played out in some corners of the party in which Milburn comes in the from the cold. Not under the current PM but another player for the power to hurt and we may not have heard the last from him.
75. (NEW) BILLY HAYES
General Secretary, Communication Workers Union
The leadership crisis, the party’s financial crisis and the decline in the poll positions have brought the unions firmly back into the frame. Hayes has emerged over the year as a major player and his role in a potential leadership change will be crucial. If Labour face a future winter of discontent it will Hayes and his colleagues who will have created it.
76. (NEW) PAUL KENNY
General Secretary, GMB
Kenny is a canny campaigner who used the private equity industry as an effective stick with which to beat a Labour government he felt was too close to the city. Like other Union leaders he is hedging about the next government while also calling on rebels to put up or shut up. He is the only big union boss close to Labour to actually call for a leadership election and his frustration with the antics of the parliamentary party is obvious.
77. (NEW) KEITH VAZ
Chairman, Home Affairs Select Committee
With human rights and law and order, especially as they relate to terrorism at the top of the domestic agenda – when people have time to look away from the economy - Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, is always there with a campaign or a soundbite. The most influential backbencher on law and order he is an essential feature of smooth legislating in the areas he cares about.
78. (-56) HILARY BENN
Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
The complete and utter failure of his dismal deputy leadership campaign has led to him become a marginal and peripheral figure. Still respected and liked, he is finding it increasingly difficult to drive forward his agenda at DEFRA. The rumour is that he may be a casualty of a Brown reshuffle.
79. (-54) JOHN KAMPFNER
Chief Executive, Index on Censorhsip
Kampfner’s departure from the editorship of the New Statesman was a shock to all on the left, especially as he had overseen a highly successful redesign. He has developed a niche as a media pundit and freelance commentator and has recently taken on the job of running the Index on Censorship under the chairmanship of Jonathan Dimbleby.
80. (-17) PAT McFADDEN
Minister of State, Employment Relations & Postal Affairs
A leading member of New Labour’s Scottish mafia, Pat McFadden has moved seamlessly from being an apparatchik in Number Ten under Tony Blair, to being an MP and middle ranking Minister. He has failed to brighten up his media image, which may impair his chances of promotion.
81. (-11) PETER MANDELSON
Vice President, European Commission
That Peter Mandelson remains in this list is a feat in itself, but his role in the creation of New Labour is an enduring legacy, which will not easily disappear. He remains close to several members of the Brown Cabinet, even if the Prime Minister himself cannot bear to hear his name. His future role in Labour politics after his departure in eight months time from the European Commission remains a subject for much speculation.
82. (-10) SUNNY HUNDAL
Blogger, Liberal Conspiracy
There are few left of centre bloggers who could be described as ‘influential’. Sunny Hundal is one. His new group blog, Liberal Conspiracy, has become an agenda setting and influential website within a very short time. He’s an eloquent media performer and the very antithesis of the stereotype ranting blogger.
83. (NEW) IEUEAN WYN JONES
Leader, Plaid Cymru
It may be mere opportunism or the example of what the SNP has achieved but Plaid Cymru’s leader has turned on his coalition partners to good effect this year. His attacks on Labour for having lost its way ring true in a Wales that has benefited from devolution and Labour governments but often not as much as the Scots seem to have done. There have been as many false dawns for Welsh nationalism as there have been general elections since the Second World War, but maybe this time with Labour in meltdown and Jones in charge their time has finally come?
84. (-3) CHRIS McLAUGHLIN
Chris McLaughlin has so far kept the ageing left wing weekly afloat in difficult circumstances and made it more relevant to the day to day politics of the Labour movement. Though hardly known outside the party and the trade union movement, Tribune remains the in-house paper of the British left, but for how long? Rumour is it may well soon shut down and become a blog.
85. (-10) SIMON WOOLLEY
Founder, Operation Black Vote
Woolley has done more to push black participation in politics than anyone else. His challenge has been to break out of the black and ethnic media and become a more widely known voice nationally.
86. (NEW) RAY COLLINS
General Secretary, Labour Party
The former TGWU man was a key element in the formation of the mega union UNITE and a managerial trade unionist who is skilful and well regarded. He needs to be. He came into the post of General Secretary of the Labour Party when it was close to £20m in debt. The fund raising and direction communications strategies have both stepped up a gear, though the by-elections continue to be lost. A worthy new entry but the coming year will tell us if he can turn the Labour machine around.
87. (NEW) NEIL KINNOCK
Former Leader of the Labour Party
In a very busy and active year, Lord Kinnock has re-emerged as a Labour elder statesman. In times of crisis Labour does not traditionally turn to the men in suits, in the way that the Conservative Party do. However Kinnock’s loyalty and silence are important factors – his power to cause significant harm to the PM brings him back into the top 100 as does the return to the political stage of his plagiariser Joe Biden as Obama’s running mate.
88. (NEW) PHIL COLLINS
Former speechwriter to Tony Blair
If the Blairites make a come back after Brown and win the fight for the party that will take place between what passes for the left these days and the “modernizers” still committed to the “project”, then Phil Collins will be in the vanguard. Collins was the first to openly articulate the depth of Blairite fear that Brown was squandering Blair’s legacy. When the fighting really starts after the next election, Collins will be in the thick of it.
89. (-82) KEN LIVINGSTONE
Former Mayor of London
Livingstone is this year’s most dramatic loser of influence, as he plummets down the list from lat year’s Number 7. Having lost the mayoralty to Boris Johnson he has embarrassed himself by continuing to hang around City hall like a ghost.
90. (NEW) MARTIN McGUINNESS
Deputy First Minister, Northern Ireland
With the business of governing back in the province, McGuinness has now eclipsed his colleague Gerry Adams. Constructive politics is a lot harder than endless opposition and McGuinness has had a reasonable year.
91. (NEW) DEREK DRAPER
Psychologist & Labour Party Adviser
A remarkable return for the reckless Draper who lost a string of jobs in politics and the media before reinventing himself as a shrink. A lot less dapper in dress and appearance than in this first incarnation, Draper’s phone has starting ringing again as the party search for an answer to their current malaise. It may only be a question of time before he implodes again, or, older and wiser, the potential that many saw in the young Draper may finally be realised. A surprise entry and very much a “watch this space”.
92. (NEW) LORD DARZI
The Iraqi born Armenian was appointed to a key health job by Brown and given £1m to do a comprehensive review of the NHS. The report received mixed reviews and is still being hotly debated, but Darzi has emerged in the politics of health as a key player.
93. (-23) NICK COHEN
Author & Columnist, The Observer
Cohen’s book ‘What’s Left’ has made him persona non grata in many left of centre circles. But at the same time it’s made him the talk of the Islington glitterati. His assertion that the left have at best been apologists for militant Islam has given him a profile and an influence he is making full use of.
94. (-16) STEVE RICHARDS
Columnist, The Independent
One of the most thoughtful columnists in British journalism, Richards is the antithesis of knee-jerk column writing. He was tipped to succeed John Kampfner at the New Statesman, but decided instead to stay put, but has lost his GMTV Sunday morning programme.
95. (NEW) ROBERT PHILPOTT
When Blair fell a lot of people thought Progress would disappear from the scene. Instead, under the quietly charming Rob Philpott, it has come out as a strong source of new ideas and a renewed presence on the web. In competition with Lawson’s Compass, Philpott’s Progress has if anything been more loyal to Brown’s leadership than the PMs old cheerleaders. The Progress manifesto groups, meetings and the journal have had a lively and interesting year.
96. (-1) MICHAEL FOOT
Former leader of the Labour Party
The greatest political essayist of the age remains a player on the left despite his 96 years. He is to many the personification of the old left values of state intervention, trade union power and nuclear disarmament, but his real influence now is in the world of letters and the connection he represents to the prose of Hazlitt, Byron and H G Wells. No list of influential British Lefties could ever exclude him.
97. (NEW) SALMA YACOUB
Though many would say she does not deserve to be on a list of lefties at all, being more at home with totalitarianism than democracy, Yacoub is about all that is left of the Respect Coalition after its egos exploded in division and widespread derision – staying loyal to Galloway and working as a councilor in Birmingham. Respect might still deprive Labour of a few seats and contribute to the election of a Conservative government.
98. (NEW) JAG SINGH
One of the few people on the British left who understands the potential of the internet in political campaigning. A co founder of the LabourHome blog, recently sold to the New Statesman, he has worked on several Democratic political campaigns in the US.
99. (NEW) TOM HARRIS
Junior Minister for Transport
Tom Harris is not a junior Minister of whom many outside Westminster have heard, yet his profile is steadily rising due to his very popular political blog. Recently voted Labour’s Number One blogger, this ultra Blairite Scotsman has taken to the medium like a duck to water.
100. (NEW) CHARLES CLARKE
Former Home Secretary
The ex-Cabinet minister and Blairite enforcer still has the power to embarrass the leadership with his ability to say what everyone else is thinking. In combination with others he might turn the leadership challenge to Brown into something serious so he creeps into the top one hundred.