1. (+80) PETER MANDELSON
First Secretary of State, Lord President of the Council and Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
When he returned to the Cabinet in October 2008 he also returned to the heart of the government, after the reshuffle in June 2009, and his assumption of the role of de facto Deputy PM, he became the heart of the government. If Labour wins the next election, he will get the credit.
If Brand Labour loses in a less than crushing defeat, he will get the credit. If Labour ais annihilated at the next election, Gordon Brown will get the blame. The great survivor of British politics, even the defeat of this government, will not, one suspects be the last we hear of Lord Mandelson.
2. (-1) GORDON BROWN
Even as he strides across the world stage, his stock declines at home. Brown is presiding over his own fall and yet clings to the view that he is a victim of circumstances beyond his control. His poor performances at PMQs, his resolute belief that big policy rather than smart presentation matters and his increasing bunker mentality have dug the hole he is in ever deeper this year, even as the economy shows signs of recovery. His chosen spade, coming in at number 1, might yet dig him out but it looks highly unlikely. But then another Labour victory in the worst recession for 80 years after 11 years in government was always highly unlikely. Could any Labour leader have won the next election? Probably not. Could any other leader have taken the party down to 15% share of the vote in an election? Probably not. And yet, he remains a world statesman and – at least in his own mind - the most talented policy maker of his generation – irony and tragedy in equal measure.
3. (+3) HARRIET HARMAN
Chair of Labour Party and Leader of House of Commons
Harman’s reinvention goes from strength to strength and her standing in the party, if not yet the country, steadily improves. Her ideological swings have settled into a broadly left of centre posture with a streak of sensible new Labour attachment to choice and the private sector. This might be enough for her to inherit the poisoned chalice of the leadership of the Labour Party after the next election. The real question is: why would she want it?
4. (-) ED MILIBAND
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate change and Manifesto Co-ordinator
The Copenhagen summit should be Ed Miliband’s finest hour to date. He has mastered the Sunday night news cycle, a lesson learnt from his old boss Gordon Brown in opposition, and regularly leads the most watched news broadcast of the week with climate change. Squeaky clean in the expenses scandal, he is pulling together the manifesto and the intellectual dexterity with which he makes nuclear power sound green, illustrate his potential. Only time will tell if he has the steel to make it to the very top.
5. (+19) ALISTAIR DARLING
Chancellor of the Exchequer
So he is still there, still fighting his corner and getting ready to take the economic battle to the Tories in the general election, unless Brown risks all in a Götterdämmerung reshuffle just before the election. His stubbornness has enhanced his reputation but the challenge of presenting the cuts that need to come in a way that makes sense to the Labour base remains. The ‘cuts’ word is now out there and in the next six months the internal struggle will be what and where. On the year that has been, Darling has won those arguments internally.
Labour MP for Dagenham
The leading member of the left, popular in the party and developing a line in candid honesty that endears him to party members as much as it infuriates Number 10. While he is not a Tony Benn, suddenly repudiating everything the Labour government has done as soon as it faces defeat, his critique on boldness resonates and will see him a key figure in a future leadership election. He needs to be careful. Labour hates disloyalty even in the face of extinction and if he overplays his hand a more loyal lefties might just take the crown.
7. CHARLIE WHELAN
Director of Communications, UNITE
While money does not determine the outcome of British general elections it does have an influence. Whelan’s job is to keep the Unions on board in the run up to the election and to try and maintain unity in the face of the public expenditure cuts to come. He has managed that over the last year but that was before details of where the axe must fall had emerged. That job has got a lot harder in the last few weeks.
8. (-6) DAVID MILIBAND
Miliband will be in conversation during this year’s conference on how foreign policy can help win elections. The trouble is they do not help win elections in the main and will certainly not help winning the next one. Should he have followed his friend James Purnell and brought down the Prime Minister? Of course not, it would have been political suicide. He would have been finished as leadership material and no one would have done much better than Brown has done anyway. Did it reinforce questions about the extent to which he has the last two inches of steel to finish the job. Of course. Miliband slips down a little but he is by no means out of the game.
Johnson’s loyalty and the effective way he has taken on the home affairs brief contrast with Miliband and might well see him overtake the younger man next year. He remains haunted by the suspicion that even he does not think he is up to the top job. The Home Office has been a nightmare post for the last few years, but Johnson seems to have calmed things down. He has a real opportunity to shine in the general election if he keeps this brief.
10 (+1) DEREK SIMPSON
Joint General Secretary, Unite
The Union barons are back and their potential to rock the government has been clear over the last six months as the need for public expenditure cuts has become clearer. The possibility of a winter of discontent remains real if the government moves to begin cutting without the likes of Simpson on board.
11 SARAH BROWN
Wife of the Prime Minister
There must times when Gordon would rather give it all up, cash in his status as World Statesman of the Year, and go and run the World Bank or the UN. That he has not done so speaks volumes about his personal ambition and sense of duty, but also the support he gets from his family and most importantly Sarah. She has emerged over the last year with a policy agenda and a presence which has softened his image as well as helped some important causes. They will fight the election together and we can expect to see even more of her over the next eight months.
12 (-9) ALEX SALMOND
First Minister for Scotland
Master of all he surveyed a year ago, Salmond has slipped back a little. The debate over the release of the Lockerbie bomber and the impact of recession worked against him. However the announcement of the referendum bill and the relative invisibility of Labour, keep him firmly placed as the dominant figure in Scottish politics.
13. (-8) ED BALLS
Secretary of State for Children, Schools & Families
The sight of Ed Balls and Lord Mandelson working closely together has amused many given their mutual past animosity but it shows Balls continuing loyalty to Brown and the party. A mixed year as minister finally came together with the opening of 28 new schools at the beginning of term, only to fall apart again with the announcement of education cuts. Still not a confident speaker, he slips back in these ratings but will still be a key player if not communicator come the election.
14. (-2) TONY BLAIR
Former Prime Minister
With Obama calling the shots within the quartet on the middle east, the former PM has had more time on his hands. He has focused this on shaping a run for President of post-treaty Europe and working with Lord Stern on climate change. His legacy still shapes the landscape of the left but his influence on domestic politics is slowly ebbing away.
15. (-7) JAMES PURNELL
Labour MP for Stalybridge
Many members of the Cabinet want to do it but only Purnell was brave enough to stab Caesar in the front. It did not kill. Purnell, initially quiet, then finally came out and gave interviews in which he tried to talk about the ideological future of the left and instead got trapped defending himself. His Demos project, while interesting, will not be enough to build him hinterland in the wider party to mount a challenge for the leadership, so his position remains ambiguous and his future uncertain – either a return to the front bench under a new leader or an exit from politics altogether seem the more likely options.
16 (-3) JACK STRAW
Secretary of State for Justice
Straw remains doggedly interested in policy and governing, though other ambitions seem to have faded. He has been remarkably quiet over the year, hence his slipping down the rankings a little, while his department has been very busy. He remains a Labour big beast and could well be an influential king maker, but his essential seriousness of purpose will keep him out of the plotting to come.
17. (-) JOHN PRESCOTT AND DAVID PRESCOTT
Former Deputy Prime Minister and son
After a period of quiet activity on the international stage, John Prescott returned to domestic politics via the internet skills of his son David. The base still loves him and his impact has been huge at grass roots level. As full time campaigning kicks off this autumn, he is set to play a central role in the heartlands and in cyber space.
18. (-) LORD ADONIS
Secretary of State for Transport
That it was the liberal Lord Adonis who turned out to be the only Labour minister to nationalisation anything except a bank during the year, amused many. The arch Blairite, the ultimate technocratic minister, he did what needed to be done. He would have privatized the stations if that had been the policy that he believed would have worked. His education philosophy is in tune with Michael Gove, so his policy positions and his public career seem more likely to survive an election than most of his colleagues.
19 (-) TESSA JOWELL
Cabinet Office Minister, Minister for London, Minister for the Olympics and Minister for London
Jowell’s return to the front rank of government is based on both competence as a Minister and the need for more women in the front line of the government after the departure of Hazel Blears and Caroline Flint. But it is competence more than anything else that has put her back in place and her openness to think about radical constitutional reform while keeping the Olympic preparations on line have rebuilt her position with the Prime Minister.
20. ALASTAIR CAMPBELL
Former Government Director of Communications
Campbell, like Prescott, has used the internet to improve his profile but he remains a figure with influence behind the scenes. Brown is rumoured to have failed to persuade Campbell to take over the general election planning but he is advising people. A dream ticket for the campaign would have Campbell running the communications, Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander providing the ideas and Peter Mandelson and Philip Gould (the pollster) developing the strategy. It still might happen, but for now Campbell influences from the outside.
21. TONY WOODLEY
Joint General Secretary, Unite
Woodley remains further down the list than his colleague Derek Simpson, in part because he doesn’t have the same media profile or influence. But he is quietly effective and his influence has certainly not diminished over the year.
22. (+31) JOHN DENHAM
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Denham’s job, since replacing Hazel Blears, is to bring some coherence to the government’s response to the new localism agenda. As with his previous brief at Innovations and Skills, and before that at the Home Affairs select committee, he has been organised and intelligent in his approach. Many wrote him off following his resignation over Iraq but for a Blairite minster this transformed his reputation with the left overnight, a little like Harold Wilson who was always seen as being on the left after he resigned with Bevan in 1951. That resignation and his quiet rise since them make him a good outside bet for the leadership or at least a leading role one day.
23 (-7) POLLY TOYNBEE
A cheerleader for the removal of Brown in June, Toynbee remains the doyen of leftwing columnists. Her attacks on Brown and the machismo that surround him are based on an abiding belief in feminism and social justice and they infuriate Number 10 as much as they are celebrated amongst the Guardianistas. It is hard to resist the feeling that she is looking forward to a Conservative government so she can really let rip.
24 (-22) NICK BROWN
With the return of Peter Mandelson, Nick Brown’s importance in the Prime Minister’s discipline machine slipped a little, but he remains a key player. When the desks were banged in support of the PM in that crucial party meeting in June and Charles Clarke’s attack was heard in silence, it was Nick Brown’s leg work and patience with the troops that the PM had, in part at least, to thank.
25 (+15) ANDY BURNHAM
Secretary of State for Health
Burnham emerged from the wreckage of June as Secretary of State for Health just as the NHS went to the top of the political agenda, yet again. His proposals on GP choice and other ideas that will come between now and Christmas, look unlikely to become policy but will keep the focus very much on the health service. A competent minister, Burnham is emerging as a gifted campaigner.
26. (+11) FRANK FIELD
Labour MP for Birkenhead
Field has had a classic backbench member of the awkward squad kind of a year and edges ever closer to replacing Tony Benn in the pantheon of deranged political mavericks. As the government and the Labour Party decline, Field marches from strength to strength. Publishing his full expense claims on his web site was only one of many classic moments.
27 (-1) SHRITI VADERA
Special adviser to the G20
Vadera, for years Gordon Brown’s representative on earth, quit the government role to become a special adviser to the G20. In government she had a mixed reputation as an enforcer of the PMs will and her move to the G20 reflects something of the priorities Brown is working on in what look like his final days in office – even if he loses the UK, he and his closest advisers, might yet save, if not quite inherit, the world.
28 (+22) CAROLINE LUCAS
Leader of the Green Party
With Copehhagen looming and the European elections going well, though they could have been better, Lucas continues to position the Green Party effectively. The slow professionalization of the Greens and their concentration of effort in target seats will mean that she is front and centre come the election, with voter volatility at unprecedented levels this could be their big chance.
29 (+11) Yvette Cooper
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Cooper got her first big department earlier than expected and has done a good job so far at the worst time for unemployment figures in New Labour’s living memory. Though embroiled in expenses stories she came through and remains part of the inner circle around the PM.
30 (+4) Liam Byrne
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Byrne has one of the toughest jobs in politics. He has to sell the government’s idea that it can increase service delivery and spending while also cutting spending and getting Britain out of recession. He mixes overt partisanship with command of a brief to great effect. In any other circumstances he would tipped for the top but in a crowded field if Labour lose, he will be hard pushed to come through.
31 (-) Deborah Mattison
Managing Director, Opinion Leader Research
The lack of yeast in the government’s numbers makes Mattison’s work more not less important but it is the citizen’s jury programme that became a little more flavour of the month this year that also kept her in the game. It remains to be seen if she will be back for the general election number crunching.
32 (+33) 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 thinks in entire paragraphs, a skill which can occasionally leave lesser mortals wondering what he is actually saying.
33 (-7) Douglas Alexander
Secretary of State for International Development
Alexander is the legacy minister for the Prime Minister. If all else fails, there will still be aid spending and here the achievements have been huge. Though his department is subject to much informal criticism in the NGO world for wasting millions, it remains the biggest funder and few are prepared to bite the hand. Alexander has kept his budget intact, a major triumph for departmental minister in these times but seems to have lost influence over the electoral strategy.
34 (+30) RICHARD REEVES
Though included in number ten policy wonk meetings, Reeves is a liberal and Demos have made many overtures to the Conservative Party. Nevertheless, the constitutional reform agenda that has emerged from the expenses crisis has been influenced by Reeve’s ideas. How far these ideas reach government is not clear but in the battle of ideas, DEMOS under Reeves direction has regained its sense of purpose.
35 (+10) NEAL LAWSON
Lawson has positioned Compass well to benefit from the defeat of the Labour government, an event he seems keen on speeding up by is continue attacks on Gordon Brown and his ministers. Very powerful in formulating his critique, he lacks real depth in alternative policy suggestions and though the wilderness might suit him it is not clear how much he has to offer a Labour Party fighting to get back to power.
36 (-11) ANDREW RAWNSLEY
The energy in the media is shifting from left to right as the story shifts from the government to the opposition. A number of the key left wing journalists have therefore slipped down the poll this year, but Rawnsley was riveting at the key moments over the year and remains the best Sunday political columnist. Will he have so much to say about the next government?
37 (+2) SHAUN WOODWARD
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
The Tory defector has proven stubbornly loyal to Gordon Brown over the last year and emerged as a key player in the government. His willingness to do the studios in defence of the PM has pushed him into the front rank of Ministers. Said to have fallen out with Peter Mandelson, though, which may not be his wisest career move.
38 (-) BARONESS KINNOCK
Minister of State for Europe
With the Cabinet and Ministerial ranks shedding women over the year, the appointment of Glenys Kinnock might have been dismissed as window dressing. But that would be to massively underestimate the drive and intellect of the former Labour leader’s wife. People working closely with the new minister have asked why on earth better use had not be made of her sooner. She has impressed civil servants and, more importantly, made a good impression on visits and in meetings abroad. Her experience of the European Parliament and her access to the top, both help her portfolio. If Labour should manage a miracle recovery, she would be well placed to play a bigger role.
39 (-) 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 wonks, policy wonk.
40 (-12) DAVE PRENTIS
General Secretary of Unison
The troubles with Unison’s own pension scheme have diverted some of his attention this year, but he remains one of the bigger union barons. He has played a careful hand with the government but is ready to challenge them when the axe starts falling.
41 (-) Baroness Royall
Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In a difficult parliamentary year for the government, the House of Lords have been relatively quiet and moderately well behaved. Though slightly demoted in June when she had to give her title of Lord President of the Council to Mandelson, Baroness Royall musters the Lords well, a job which occasionally resembles herding cats.
42 (+12) Mark Serwotka
General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union
With 100,000 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. If the winter sees a confrontation between unions and the state, he will in forefront as he has been over the year.
43 (-) Amartya Sen
Sen remains the key thinker in the development policies of the PM, DFID and in the thinking of the Foreign Secretary. His books, speeches, articles and personal advice have shaped policy on both sides of the Atlantic and no matter what happens in the domestic politics of the UK, two things are clear. Firstly, that the legacy of his premiership that matters most to Gordon Brown was shaped by the ideas of Amartya Sen and that secondly, Sen’s ideas will continue to be heavily influential on the left globally.
44 (-1) Alan Rusbridger
Editor, The Guardian
How does he do it? Year after year the Guardian survives and continues on its mission to hold a mirror up to the received wisdom of the left in Britain. There is no liberal dogma too tired or clichéd anti-war rhetoric too lame that it cannot find a place in Guardian’s pages or the columns of its online Comment is Free. No better, no worse than last year, the beauty of Rusbridger’s paper is that it never surprises and therefore always delivers.
45 (-22) Jackie Ashley
The left wing columnists come down the rankings this year, (though see Steve Richards below) partly because there only so many anti-Gordon Brown columns anyone can write. Ashley has written many of the best but she and her colleagues desperately need a new story. Her credibility has been tarnished by some astonishing flip flops.
46 (+22) 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.
47 (-) Jack Dromey
Deputy General Secretary UNITE and Treasurer of the Labour Party
It is rumoured that Harriet Harman’s other half if actively seeking a safe labour seat. One of Labour’s power couples would then be in a position to shape Labour in opposition. For now he campaigns hard on housing and has, thus far, kept his union more or less on side.
48 (+18) Brendan Barber
TUC General Secretary
Despite the absurdity of the boycott of Israel, an illustration that the worst kind of gesture politics lives on for the left,, this year’s TUC was moderate and engaged with the real world. Barber has positioned the TUC well for the future and as a candid friend of the government carries more weight than for many years.
49 (+8) Jim Murphy
Secretary of State for Scotland
Alex Salmond’s dip in influence is in part at least because of the arrival of Jim Murphy. This most dedicated of Scots has built a mountain built from nothing. From the small politics of usurping Salmond’s headlines, to the bigger politics of the coming referendum, Murphy has been there. A politician going from strength to strength.
50 (+33) Phil Collins
Chair of DEMOs
Blair’s former speech writer has had a busy year. In demand as a commentator, he has also helped DEMOs become relevant again. His other former boss James Purnell is now, technically, working for him on the DEMOs project on the future of the left. Collins is a vocal and influential critic of the Prime Minister who has had a lively year.
If the Blairites make a comeback 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. He was the first to openly articulate the depth of Blairite fear that Brown was squandering Blair’s legacy - in July this year, he predicted Labour would be ‘slaughtered’ at the election. When the fighting really starts afterwards, Collins will be in the thick of it.
5152. (-19) DAN CORRY
Head of the No. 10 Policy Unit
Corry is the doyen of special advisers. He’s managed to stay out of trouble, and 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.
52 (-20) Joe Irvine
Brown’s main political fixer has had less influence as fear of his boss wanes. So many head have needed to be banged together so often that he has been stretched. He keeps a low profile and will be in the forefront of the battle in the end game, notably the trade unions have not misbehaved excessively over the year and that is where he weilds more influence.
53. (NEW) 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. He is said to have admired the former Prime Minister much more by the end of his stint in No.10 than at the beginning, a position that must put him in a considerable minority. His opinion of Brown, perhaps unsurprisingly, is rather more conventional.
54. (+22) PAUL KENNY
General Secretary, GMB
Kenny has warned the government that cuts will mean strikes. A vocal critic of the Prime Minister he has positioned the GMB well for the coming battle. There are rumours of a merger with UNISON, to make the largest union in the country, Kenny will be a key player in the merger and beyond.
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.
55. (+6) 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 engerised the RSA and his analysis of contemporary society and politics remains acute and influential. The coming of a conservative government might yet tempt back into the front line.
In Tony Blair’s final years Matthew Taylor would have made 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.
56. (NEW) KIRSTY MCNEILL
Adviser in charge of external affairs
McNeill was recently promoted by Brown, having previously worked as his speechwriter, a move which caused some consternation among senior Labour party members. She is famous for supposedly shouting at Tony Blair, in a protest against his education policy: ‘Are you Thatcher in disguise?’ A rapid climber of the greasy Downing Street pole, McNeill only joined the No.10 staff last year, but is expected to play an important part in the coming election campaign. The quality Brown is said to like in her is that she still believes in him and in the possibility of serious politics coming through over spin. Whether that belief is what is needed in this key role in number as an election approaches remains to be seen.
57. (+5) IAIN GRAY
Leader, Scottish Labour Party
As Salmon has slipped so Gray has gained a little ground. He cannot compete with Salmon’s flair so he does not try and it is beginning to pay some dividends. With the recession and the referendum both topping the list of key issues in Scotland, Labour might need a better campaigner or they might have got the antidote to flamboyance that will see them through.
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.
58. (+1) GEORGE MONBIOT
Environmental campaigner and writer
His media savy remains intact and as the Copenhagen agenda has neared so his influence has increased. His long, earnest articles in the liberal press are duly published, though it is not clear how often they are read. But it is in broadcasting that he makes the bigger impact and he should concentrate on it more because the Green case needs all the help it can get on the airwaves.
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 has replaced Jonathan Porritt as the acceptable face of environmentalism.
59. (-4) YASMIN ALIBHAI-BROWN
Columnist, The Independent and Evening Standard
Still 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.
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.
60. (-) RICHARD WALLACE
Editor, Daily Mirror
The Mirror still sits as the lone voice for Labour. A lively paper it has circulation problems but Wallace will keep it onside and in return will expect some exclusives over the months to come.
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. (NEW) BARONESS HELENA KENNEDY QC
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.
62. (+6) LORD ALAN SUGAR
Entrepreneur and enterprise tsar
The businessman turned TV star has outspoken views and an ego to match. He made the headlines earlier this year when it was announced that he might stand as the Labour candidate against Boris in the next London Mayoral election, and was in the spotlight again when Gordon Brown made him a peer and hired him as his ‘enterprise tsar’. Apprentice-style headlines predictably ensued, along with accusations of governmental gimmickry, but beneath the headlines there is a serious man trying to contribute something.
63. (+8) 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.
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.
64. (+11) BILLY HAYES
General Secretary, Communication Workers Union
Hayes has had a generally good year and is ready to work with the government when it is in his members interests. However he is also ready to oppose and will be a key player in the winter show doen on public expenditure.
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 be Hayes and his colleagues who will have created it.
65. (+8) DIANE HAYTER
Former Chair of the National Executive Committee
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 was crucial. While rebels demanded nomination papers be sent out, Hayter delivered an unanimous vote against such a move ensuring that there would be no contest. The importance of the NEC has grown over the last year of Labour decline, and it will continue to do so.
66. (-47) DAVID MUIR
Director of Political Strategy, Number Ten
Who would have David Muir’s job? Presenting poll numbers like these to the Cabinet and being expected to have a solution is an entirely thankless task. Yet he keeps at it and retains his optimism that the tide will turn. Endless energy and drive, it is difficult to see how anyone could have done the job differently, given the circumstances, but the massive slide indicates just how difficult the job is.
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.
67. (-1) 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.
68. (NEW) DENNIS SKINNER
MP for Bolsover
A fiercely left-wing campaigner, Skinner will have been an MP for 40 years by the time of the next general election. Nicknamed ‘the Beast of Bolsover’, he has a reputation for being a rebellious and boisterous member of the House of Commons, although he is said to have been somewhat subdued since recovering from cancer in 2000. He seems to be enjoying a new lease on life since his recovery from cancer and is a forthright and honest critic of the government and champion of the Labour Party.
69. (-21) WILF STEVENSON
Friend of Gordon Brown
Given a host of jobs to do, Stevenson has become a key presence in number ten but there are mixed views about his influence and competence. In the wake of the expenses scandal he took a leading role in the National Council for Democratic Renewal which disappeared without much trace soon after it was announced.
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 No. 10, but with no defined role.
70. (NEW) BEN BRADSHAW
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
The MP for Exeter since 1997, Bradshaw has cut an increasingly public figure over the last couple of years, facing some criticism as a Minister for Health, but ultimately gaining promotion to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in June this year. One of the first openly gay MPs, he was formerly a BBC journalist, who got a lucky break when he was posted to Berlin shortly before the fall of the wall in 1989.
71. (-35) 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 but her overexposure has lead to many criticisms lately from within Liberty and beyond. She spreads herself thinly and therefore her effectiveness has suffered greatly this year.
72. (-) MIKE DANSON
Owner, New Statesman
Danson has more or less delivered the Statesman for the government, including a new editor who does not understand politics as well as the arts and the sacking of an outstanding political editor, Martin Bright. The magazine was always going to suffer with a the wing of the pendulum to the right, but its survival looks assured.
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. (+16) KEN LIVINGSTONE
Former Mayor of London
Initially it looked silly the way Livingstone hung around city hall watching Boris but gradually it has made more sense and kept Livingstone in the public eye in London. His single minded dedication and some u-turns from the Mayor have also contributed to a gradual return to the limelight.
Ever since he lost the mayoralty to Boris Johnson, Livingstone has embarrassed himself by continuing to hang around City hall like a ghost. Somewhat predictably, he announced his intention to run for the position again in 2012, and in the meantime has been giving Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez advice on town planning. How do you say ‘congestion charge’ in Spanish?
74. (-25) 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.
75. (-16) 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.
76. (-40) 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.
77. (+1) HILARY BENN
Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
The complete and utter failure of his dismal deputy leadership campaign in 2007 has led to him become a marginal and peripheral figure. Still respected and liked, Benn was one of few MPs to come out well from the expenses scandal, but he is finding it increasingly difficult to drive forward his agenda at DEFRA.
78. JESSICA ASATO
A former chair of the Young Fabians and a researcher at the Social Market Foundation, Asato’s work with Progress involves promoting discussion and debate of progressive ideas amongst Labour Party members.
79. (-) JOHN KAMPFNER
Chief Executive, Index on Censorship
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 in 2008 took on the job of running the Index on Censorship under the chairmanship of Jonathan Dimbleby.
80. (-3) 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.
81. (-1) PAT McFADDEN
Minister of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
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 was made a Minister of State for Business, Innovation and Skills when the Department was created in June this year. He has so far failed to brighten up his media image, which may impair his chances of further promotion.
82. (+2) 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, and was recently saved from closure when bought by businessman Kevin McGrath.
83. (NEW) JOHANN HARI
Columnist, The Independent
In 2008, Hari became the youngest ever winner of the George Orwell prize for political writing. A journalist, author and playwright, Hari seems to court as much abuse as he does praise, his website proudly listing the number and nature of attacks he has received in print.
84. (NEW) Chuka Ummuna
Labour candidate for Streatham
Not yet even an MP, 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 what will probably be the shadow cabinet, should he be successful at the coming election of course.
85. (NEW) James Macintyre
Political Correspondent, New Statesman
Macintyre has won acclaim for a great number of his New Statesman articles since becoming the magazine’s political correspondent, but recently caused a stir with a blog post stating that he believed the Conservative Party was institutionally racist.
86. (-3) IEUAN 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?
87. (NEW) George Galloway
Few politicians have courted as much controversy as George Galloway. Expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 following an outspoken attack on the Iraq war, he was tainted with suspicion after allegations that he benefitted financially from the same country’s Oil-for-Food programme. Galloway revels in the limelight, however, and has never been averse to a heated debate.
88. (-2) 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. He found himself in hot water earlier this year when he was forced to admit that he had attended meetings with Damien McBride and Derek Draper, shortly before it was revealed that they had planned a Tory smear campaign – Collins said he had absolutely no knowledge of it and condemned the plans, but for many people his defence didn’t wash.
89. (NEW) MICK LEAHY
General Secretary, Community
Leahy was General Secretary of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC) when it merged with a number of other unions to form Community.
90. (-39) TREVOR PHILLIPS
Chair, Equality and Human Rights Commission
Phillips’s position gave him sweeping powers and influence and 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. His profile has fallen this year, however, with his main publicity being the criticism he received when several of his commissioners resigned, citing his leadership of the EHRC as the principal factor.
91. (+9) 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. Most recently, this meant criticising Brown and his team for making the “misleading and incredible proposition” that the choice at the general election would be between Labour investment and Tory cuts.
92. (-82) TOM WATSON
Labour MP for West Bromwich
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.
93. (+6) 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.
94. (NEW) CHRIS LESLIE
Director, New Local Government Network
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.
95. (NEW) ALEX SMITH
Smith recently returned from the United States, where he spent a lengthy period of time working as a volunteer in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He became the editor of LabourList earlier this year, when his former boss Derek Draper resigned over his plans to smear several Tory politicians. He rescued the site from a seemingly inevitable death.
96. (NEW) JOHN MCFALL
Chairman, Treasury Select Committee
The MP for West Dunbartonshire has been a Parliamentarian for over 20 years, and has chaired the Treasury Select Committee since 2001. He was responsible for the inquiry into the banking crisis and the credit crunch in 2008.
97. (NEW) PETER HAIN
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. He will no doubt have been hugely frustrated by the 15 months he spent on the back benches, so he can be expected to pursue an intense programme for helping his party to win re-election next year.
98. (NEW) SADIQ KHAN
Minister of State for Transport
Tooting MP Khan was touted as one to watch when he arrived in Parliament after the 2005 election, and has worked hard to raise his profile since then. He made history by being the first Muslim invited to join the Cabinet, when he was made Minister of State for Transport in Gordon Brown’s June reshuffle earlier this year.
99. (NEW) PHIL WOOLAS
Minister of State, Home Office
Woolas is now best known - rather unfortunately – for the moment when actress Joanna Lumley confronted him in the BBC’s Westminster Office, coercing him to concede on camera that several rejected Gurkha residency applications would be reviewed. Before then he had kept a relatively low profile since joining Parliament in 1997, but has been steadily working his way up through numerous committees and ministerial positions.
100. (-4) 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. To many, he is 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.