As our distinguished panel of politicians and pundits met to consider this year’s Top 100 People on the Left list, it was mainly concerned with the top ten positions. Would Ed hold onto top spot, or could he be usurped by, well, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that particular revelation. If indeed there is one!
As the General Election looms ever closer, more of Ed Miliband’s team of advisers have entered the list, including his Political Secretary Anna Yearly, his Trade Union man Simon Fletcher, his Deputy Communications Director Patrick Hennessy, his digital strategist Matthew McGregor, and his media adviser and joke writer Ayesha Hazarika. They will all play a key part in the 2015 General Election.
Sadly we had to bid a sad farewell to Bob Crow who passed away earlier this year, but left wing MP Ian Lavery joined the list representing the old left. At the opposite end of the spectrum we said a sad farewell to Peter Mandelson (did he ever really belong on a list of lefties?), who was replaced by the even more shadowy figure of Gordon Brown’s ex spinner, Damian McBride. His rehabilitation has begun, but will he ever make a comeback?
Talking of comebacks, if our panel were to place a bet it would be for a Peter Hain return. Despite his announcement that he is stepping down from the Commons, we give it less than a year till he graces the red benches (and an Ed Miliband cabinet?) with his presence.
Our panel also noted that the future of the Labour Party seems to lie with women symbolised by the introduction of Luciana Berger, Lucy Powell and Gloria de Piero to the list, while Lisa Nandy and Lucy Kendall saw big rises. All good performing shadow ministers under Team Miliband, making Harriet Harman a very happy deputy leader. More on her tomorrow.
Whoever said that the Labour Party doesn’t like millionaires? This year the list has two multi-millionaire donors in the form of David Sainsbury and John Mills who will both help to fill the coffers of the election war chest.
This year’s list sees a touch of glamour with the additions of stand-up comedian Eddie Izzard and footballer Joey Barton - two celebrities who are brave enough to put their heads above the parapet and speak their mind. See politics isn’t just showbiz for ugly people. Or maybe it is.
Another strong feature of the bottom half of this year’s list is the number of potential London Mayoral candidates including David Lammy, Dame Tessa Jowell, Diane Abbott, Doreen Lawrence, and maybe even Eddie Izzard! Sadiq Khan and Andrew Adonis will feature tomorrow, along with Margaret Hodge. They’re all credible candidates, but do any of them have the necessary stardust? In the end, there’s nothing like a Dame, is there?
Finally, a noticeable absence from the list is David Miliband, who for the first time in seven years leaves the list. There is now only room for one Miliband on the left, and his name is Ed. Find out if he tops our list tomorrow.
As our panel met to decide the Top 100 Most Influential People on the Left there was only one man on our mind. A charismatic leader, a superb campaigner, wildly ambitious – no not Ed Miliband, but Alex Salmond. The referendum may not have gone the way he wanted, but he set the terms of the debate. The whole of Westminster from David Cameron to Nick Robinson were dancing to his tune. The next year will be dominated by the wrangling between Whitehall and Hollyrood about further powers for Scotland, and but it will not be Salmond leading the negotiations. It will almost certainly be his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon. For that reason she makes a dramatic rise in this year’s list to enter the top ten, while Alex Salmond – who would have topped the list if the vote had gone his way – drops out of the top twenty. Proof if were needed of the fickle nature of politics.
There are no fewer than 26 new entries in the list this year, far higher than the number of new next week’s Top 100 People on the Right list. There are also 34 women in this list, compared to 20 in next week’s and only 10 in the LibDem Top 50, which we’ll bring you in two weeks’ time.
Two former Prime Ministers make a re-entry on the list with Brown at 19 and Blair at 20. There is no denying that Gordon Brown was the star billing of the referendum campaign, the only man who could hold a candle to the sheer force of Salmond. His emotional last minute plea to the Scots may well have swung the debate in his favour. But what next for Gordon? Could he be the next First Minister of Scotland? Whatever happens, there is no denying that Gordon is back.
It may seem like the year has been dominated by Scotland, but there have been other goings on for the left. Russell Brand emerged from a Newsnight interview with Jeremy Paxman as some sort of socialist prophet. His whimsical nature may not have appealed to Westminster, but up and down the country thousands of young and impressionable students were impressed by his unoriginal thoughts on bankers and the capitalist system. Brand therefore emerges as the highest new entry on the list at number 10. Yes, really.
Ed Miliband may have secured his position as party leader over the last few years, but he still faces threats, his main worry being Andy Burnham who rises from 9 to 5 on the list. Burnham is increasingly defying his leader and issuing his own statements on issues of policy. More worrying for Miliband is that Burnham is very popular with the grassroots of the party, regularly topping the polls on the Labour List blog. Will Miliband grow a backbone and move or even sack Burnham? Or is the old adage true that it’s better to have him inside the tent than outside?
The other two in with a shot of being the next leader are Chuka Umunna and Rachel Reeves who both enter the top ten, making them the highest placed entries of the 2010 intake. Both ambitious and talented, they will both undoubtedly stand for the leadership in a future contest. But there is also a dark horse on our list in the form of Owen Smith at 48. Currently stuck with the shadow Wales brief, he is still one of the Labour Party’s most competent media performers. Perhaps the Labour Party will once again have a Welsh leader one day, especially if the new devolution settlement denies them a Scottish one.
One thing is certain, the makeup of this list will change dramatically this time next year.
1. (-) Ed Miliband
Leader of the Labour Party
Ed Miliband ought to be known as Mr Inconsistent. He gave a bravura performance at last year’s conference, and set the political weather until Christmas with his energy price freeze and ‘cost of living crisis’ campaign. And yet he’s not cutting through to the electorate in sufficient numbers. He and Ed Balls have failed to convince they have a viable economic policy, and time is running out.
2. (+1) Len McCluskey
General Secretary of Unite
Len McCluskey maintains his position even though he has had a relatively quiet year. But his vice-like grip on Labour Party candidate selections remains as strong as ever. Unite continue to provide vast amounts of funding to Labour HQ and it’s fair to say the party couldn’t fund an election campaign without Unite. McCluskey isn’t afraid to disagree with Ed Miliband publicly, but as the election draws nearer these public spats are becoming rarer.
3. (-1) Ed Balls
We said last year that “the next 12 months are crucial for Ed Balls. If he doesn’t pull a rabbit out of the hat he’s destined to plummet to mid-table mediocrity next year.” Well, no sight of any rabbits yet, but it’s been steady year for Ed Balls. He’s ploughed his own furrow while maintaining an appearance of total unity with Ed Miliband. But colleagues are increasingly asking how he intends to counter the seemingly endless flow of good economic statistics. It’s a make or break year for Ed Balls.
4. (+1) Yvette Cooper
Shadow Home Secretary
Yvette Cooper is the least high profile Shadow Home Secretary in living memory, but there may be a reason for that. She is known to be sceptical of ‘Project Miliband’ and remains the so-called ‘under the bus’ replacement candidate should Ed Miliband meet his political maker. It’s a risky strategy as her lack of profile is increasingly being commented on, not just by colleagues, but journalists too. As Shadow Home Secretary she should have the highest profile of any Labour politician bar the leader.
5. (+4) Andy Burnham
Shadow Health Secretary
Andy Burnham’s star is firmly in the ascendant. Like Yvette Cooper he is far from a fan of Ed Miliband’s leadership and has carefully retained a degree of independence. He has also been assiduous in courting the left as well as performing strongly in his shadow cabinet role. His popularity in the voluntary party is growing, and if it all goes wrong for Ed Miliband, expect Andy Burnham to be quickly out of the traps.
6. (+1) Owen Jones
Writer & commentator
Owen Jones’s ubiquity continues unchallenged. He remains the most articulate proponent of leftwingery in the UK and his new book on the establishment will help cement his reputation as the conscience of those who pinch their noses while still voting Labour. But his position of influence will be undermined if he doesn’t soon decide which direction his career will take him. It won’t happen in 2015, but surely 2020 will herald the election of Owen Jones MP.
7. (+3) Chuka Umunna
Shadow Business Secretary
Umunna continues to be the highest ranked member of the 2010 intake on this list, but Rachel Reeves is snapping at his expensively leathered heels. He has had a good year despite one or two media mishaps. He comes across as the voice of sweet reason, and appears to be the sweet voice of Blairism, but he is developing an inner steel. The trouble is, no one really knows what he stands for and if he is to cement his position as a potential leadership candidate he needs to develop some easily identifiable beliefs.
8. (+49) Nicola Sturgeon
Scottish Deputy First Minister
Nicola Sturgeon has been the main SNP star of the referendum campaign and is an easy bet to succeed Alex Salmond, although not quite the shoo-in everyone is saying. We all know what can happen to dead cert leadership front runners – cf David Davis. She has a well-developed sense of humour and is a great debator and we tip her for huge success. Sturgeon is more of a ‘details’ politician than Salmond and will be a hard nut to crack in the Devo Max negotiations with Westminster.
9. (+3) Rachel Reeves
Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary
The quiet rise of Rachel Reeves has been something to behold. Her media appearances have continued to impress and she has been assiduous in developing a hard-edged Labour alternative to the Coalition’s welfare reforms. She knows Labour is seen as a soft touch on benefits and has done something to attack this perception. She is destined to play a major role in Labour politics for many years to come.
10. (NEW) Russell Brand
Brand’s articulation of a very different brand of politics in his Newsnight interview with Jeremy Paxman was a bizarre sight to behold. It was an incoherent as it was idealistic, but it struck a nerve with those who like to have their nerves struck. For the rest of us it was laughable. But there’s no denying he is a bit of a hero to many on the left. Frankly they are welcome to him. If their erogenous zones are excited by Brand’s ideas it just goes to show how ideas-poor the left have become.
11. (-) Margaret Hodge
Chair, Public Accounts Committee
There are strong rumours that Margaret Hodge intends to stand as Labour candidate for Mayor of London. She would be mad to do so and have little chance of winning. She has made her reuptation as a brilliant chair of the Public Accounts Committee. Hardly a day goes by without a quote by Hodge in the papers or a clip on the news, but Hodge always comes across as authoritative rather than overtly partisan. It is a role in which she excels and it sets her up for a senior job in a future Labour government.
12. (-8) Harriet Harman
Deputy Leader of the Opposition & Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
It is said that Harriet Harman isn’t rated or consulted by Ed Miliband as much as her position ought to merit. She is known to be frustrated by the fact that his inner circle is almost exclusively male and has been spitting tacks at the fact that Labour’s new broadcasting officer is yet another white male. Harman has softened her public image in recent years, but remains hugely popular in the party and Miliband would do well to keep her on side.
13. (-5) Marc Stears
Ed Miliband’s Chief Speechwriter & Fellow at IPPR
Marc Stears is a long-time friend of Ed Miliband and is consulted by the Labour leader on any major development. Any political leader needs people he trusts around him, and their friendship extends back to their time at Oxford. Steers nominally works at the IPPR, where he is trying to put some policy content into the ideas of ‘blue Labour’.
14. (+6) Lord Wood
Shadow Minister without Portfolio
From an outsider’s viewpoint, Liverpool supporting Stewart Wood is possibly the key person in Ed Miliband’s entourage. If you want something from Ed, and Wood doesn’t support it, chances are it won’t happen. He is adept at reaching out to thinkers, academia, policy-makers, the commentariat and others to develop new thinking and fresh ideas. He would play a central role in any new Labour government.
15. (+8) Jon Cruddas
Policy Review Coordinator
Cruddas rises in this years’ list because at last there is a little bit of flesh on the bones of Labour’s policy review. Having said that, many Labour insiders remain frustrated at the lack of progress. They’re expecting to see results during conference week, but if they don’t, the knives will be out for the man who regards himself as Labour’s ideological conscience. Cruddas is by no means a team player, and it is difficult to see him taking on a ministerial role if Labour wins, without it all ending in tears.
16. (-) Douglas Alexander
Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
This is a make or break year for Douglas Alexander. He’s in charge of Labour’s general election planning. Win the election and his senior role in the Labour team is cemented, but lose, and he will forever be toast. Foreign Affairs is a difficult portfolio to shine in when you’re in opposition, but Alexander has had ample opportunity to shine this year. Miliband’s team are said to be frustrated at the low profile adopted by ‘Wee Dougie’, but they know that it would be dangerous to push him outside the Mili-tent.
17. (+1) Jim Murphy
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
Last year we wrote that Jim Murphy had found it difficult to make an impact. Not this year. Despite his demotion to shadow DfID, he has had a much higher profile, not least embarking on a 100 town tour of Scotland extolling the virtues of the ‘Better Together’ campaign. Having accepted a demotion, he’s clearly decided to do his own thing, and it’s working for him.
18. (-1) Alistair Darling
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer
There was a time when pundits were tipping Alistair Darling to return to Labour’s front bench team. In recent weeks there have been few of those calls. His leadership of the ‘Better Together’ campaign proved to be not quite the masterstroke it first appeared. He became uncharacteristically rattled and unable to promote a positive vision for the campaign. The ‘no’ campaign may have won by a whisker, but Darling is unlikely to get any thanks.
19. (RE-ENTRY) Gordon Brown
Former Prime Minister
Just when we thought Gordon Brown had disappeared into the political sunset, he has emerged again as the voice of the ‘Better Together’ campaign. He even threatened to run for the Scottish Parliament in the future. Could we even see him becoming Scottish First Minister? What a delicious prospect.
20. (RE-ENTRY) Tony Blair
Former Prime Minister
Another former Prime Minister to have garnered the limelight over the last twelve months is Tony Blair. Since he left office in 2007 he has by and large remained silent about domestic politics and Labour Party matters, but this year has seen a shift in policy from His Toniness. Many pundits believe he would love to make a dramatic return to frontline politics, but he realises it could never happen. Or could it?
21. (-2) Polly Toynbee
Journalist & commentator
Polly Toynbee remains an influential figure on the left and long may she do so. She has her fair share of detractors, but what she says matters in left of centre circles. In some ways she is the closest thing the left has to a conscience. She is sometimes accused of being too idealistic and lacking understanding of the practicalities of government, but all ideologies need people to hold their proponents to account.
22. (-1) Sadiq Khan
Shadow Secretary of State for Justice
Sadiq Khan remains one of Ed Miliband’s biggest cheerleaders, even if the Labour leader hasn’t always rewarded his loyalty. Always willing to appear on the media, he is an accomplished and cheerful performer, but his detractors complain about a lack of both substance and charisma. Soundbites do not make policy and if he is to run to be Labour’s candidate he will need to up his game. He is said to have a huge amount of support in the London Labour Party after years of touring local constituency parties, which will stand him in good stead for a mayoral run.
23. (-9) Michael Dugher
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office & Vice-Chair of the Labour Party
Michael Dugher’s profile continues to rise and he is Labour’s attack dog of choice. But if he is to be seen as a heavyweight politician he needs to move into a policy based job before too long. There are rumours of strife between him and Douglas Alexander over the direction of general election campaign strategy.
24. (NEW) Tristram Hunt
Shadow Education Secretary
Tristram Hunt has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the Shadow Cabinet. He has been far more effective than his predecessor in the post and has used his ubiquitous charm to good effect. But it is in the field of policy making that Hunt has been weak. To his credit he hasn’t fallen under the spell of the teaching unions, but he needs to spell out more clearly what a Labour government would actually change in education policy.
25. (-3) Frances O’Grady
General Secretary of the TUC
Frances O’Grady is the first female General Secretary of the TUC in their 140-year history. Her first year in the job hasn’t been a rip-roaring success, although she hasn’t done anything particularly wrong. The TUC needs someone who is capable of spreading the gospel of unionism throughout the land, but it’s questionable whether O’Grady enjoys the public profile to do that.
26. (-20) Alex Salmond
First Minister for Scotland
He may have narrowly lost the referendum, but in a way he won due to the extra powers Scotland will now get. But his decision to stand down inevitable means a dramatic fall from the top ten, where he is replaced by his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon. Salmond has dominated Scottish politics for a generation and will continue to wield influence, but from a long way down this list in future years.
27. (-3) Bob Roberts
Director of Communications to Ed Miliband
Doing the job of Director of Communications to a Leader of the Opposition is a pretty thankless one, but Bob Roberts has done it well. Liked and respected by the lobby he has overseen a transformation in Ed Miliband’s media presence by taking a few risks, which on the whole has paid off. Put simply, if Roberts isn’t in favour, it’s unlikely his other advisers will be able to persuade Ed Miliband to do something. That’s influence.
28. (RE-ENTRY) Spencer Livermore
Labour Party General Election Campaign Director
It was Spencer Livermore who copped the blame from Gordon Brown (and perhaps more to the point Damian McBride) for the election that never was. It took him a long time to recover his political equilibrium but he’s back and he’s working hand in glove with Douglas Alexander. Very much the prototype backroom adviser, he has no public profile, but his political antennae remain as sharp as ever.
29. (NEW) J K Rowling
J K Rowling’s political profile is gradually on the rise, mainly due to her financial donations to the Labour Party and to the ‘Better Together’ campaign. It is expected she will make another large and much needed seven figure donation to Labour in advance of the election. At a time when celebrities generally keep their political views to themselves, Rowling doesn’t mind wearing her political heart on her sleeve.
30. (+5) Keith Vaz
Chairman, Home Affairs Select Committee
Vaz has turned the Home Affairs Select Committee into the most high profile select committee in the Commons, largely because of his own voracious appetite for radio and TV appearances. But they are used to good effect and he genuinely influences government policy. Careful not be partisan, his interrogations of select committee witnesses are a delight to behold. OK, he’s not beyond a bit of grandstanding, but in the end it is often justified. The question is, what on earth would he do without the position if Labour gain power in 2015?
31. (+8) Caitlin Moran
Author and Columnist for The Times
Caitlin Moran is, unlike most people in this list, cool. She was a high new entry last year and her success continues. Her new book ‘How to Build a Girl’ is a bestseller, following in the footsteps of ‘How to be a Woman’. As we said last year, she is unarguably the most well-known face of modern feminism in the country.
32. (-2) Caroline Flint
Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary
Caroline Flint has been at the forefront of Labour’s ‘Cost of Living Crisis’ campaign and has fronted Ed Miliband’s much vaunted policy of freezing energy prices. She’s done a good job selling a policy which even its advocates admit has as many holes in it as a colander. She’s bested her LibDem opponent Ed Davey and she doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She will play a big part in the next labour government if they win in 2015.
33. (+7) Nick Pearce
Without a shadow of a doubt, Nick Pearce has overseen the revival of the IPPR as a think tank of influence in Labour circles since his return to the organisation. Pearce helps with speechwriting for Ed Miliband but his main job is to think up new policies for Labour. Some even regard the present-day IPPR as Labour’s policy unit. However, as a charity, the IPPR has come under some criticism on the right for its leftwing policy generation, but is it really any different to Policy Exchange on the right?
34. (-8) Paul Kenny
General Secretary, GMB
Paul Kenny has always been an independent minded trade unionist and isn’t afraid to criticise the Labour leadership when he feels it appropriate. He has the knack of doing it without it seeming gratuitous. He is certainly not a fan of Ed Miliband’s changes to Labour’s donation and membership policy, but in the end, he’s a Labour man to his core and will no doubt come to the aid of the party by making a large donation before the election.
35. (-8) Tom Watson
MP for West Bromwich East
A much quieter year for Tom Watson but he’s never far away from the headlines. He’s played a big role in keeping the issue of historical allegations of child sex abuse in the headlines and is still a media go-to person on press regulation. Watson may have a low profile at the moment, but don’t bet against him playing a bigger role in Labour politics very soon.
36. (-8) Carwyn Jones
First Minister of Wales
Carwyn Jones remains the most senior Labour politician in terms of elected office in the UK, yet even in Labour circles he remains comparatively unknown. His influence revolves around policies which have proved successful in Wales which Labour can utilise nationally. Best not to mention the Welsh NHS, though…
37. (-8) Lord Adonis
Shadow Minister for Infrastructure
One of the nicest people in politics, Andrew Adonis is a dead cert cabinet minister in a Miliband government, that is if he hasn’t become Labours candidate for London mayor in the meantime. Some scratch their heads at this worthy ambition, but Adonis is deadly serious. He’s also playing an important role crafting Labour’s industrial and infrastructure policy.
38. (RE-ENTRY) Tom Baldwin
Director of Strategy to the Leader of the Opposition
Having spent many years working for The Times, Tom Baldwin was hired by Ed Miliband to give his media operation some rigour and bite. He’s changed roles a couple of times and although he still does some important media briefings, his role and influence extends well beyond day to day media management.
39. (-7) Mary Creagh
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
After a very successful period as Environment Secretary, where she scored successes on the privatisation of forests and the badger cull, Mary Creagh hasn’t quite achieved the same profile and hit rate at Transport. It’s said that she has been at odds with the leadership over railways policy, but she remains a first class media performer and Labour should make more of her talents.
40. (-15) Ian McNichol
Labour Party General Secretary
Ian McNicol was not Ed Miliband’s first choice for general secretary but has performed competently, juggling many balls at the same time. In a sense, his role in the run-up to the general election becomes slightly less important, hence his fall this year.
41. (-28) Stella Creasey
Shadow Minister for Crime Prevention
A rather dramatic fall for Stella Creasey this year, but maybe we overpromoted her last time round. She has been a dogged pursuer of pay day loan companies and has proved a doughty campaigner. It got her a promotion to the front bench, where she has rather sunk without trace. Well, almost. Some of her colleagues, perhaps jealous of her public profile, reckon she’s not a team player. We expect more of her next year.
42. (-10) Mehdi Hasan
Political Director, Huffington Post
A strange year for Mehdi Hasan, in that he’s done some fantastic , long form interviews for HuffPo, yet his public profile is on the decline in this country. It is a shame his two Al Jazeera shows have taken him away from front-line British political commentary. We still think his future lies in elected politics. We’re watching this space already.
43. (-7) Angela Eagle
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
Angela Eagle is a quietly effective media performer but she has had a quieter year this year. Her role will, however, provide her with opportunities to become a key figure in Labour’s general election campaign. Capable of getting under the skin of her Tory opponents, Angela Eagle could play a big part in a future Labour government.
44. (-10) Dave Prentis
General Secretary of Unison
Leader of the largest trade union in the country UNISON, Prentis is an old hand at influencing Labour behind the scenes. He’s willing to go public when needed but has grown ever more subtle as the years go by. Prentis is urging Ed Miliband to articulate a much more positive vision of what Labour would do in power.
45. (-4) Helen Lewis
Deputy Editor of the New Statesman
A regular on the Sunday Politics pundits panel, Helen Lewis is proving herself to be one of the most articulate commentators on left of centre politics. She is highly influential, not just through her New Statesman work, but also through social media. We expect her profile to rise over the next year.
46. (-8) Torsten Henrickson-Bell
Head of Ed Miliband’s Office
Henrickson-Bell falls this year mainly because most observers agree that more rigour and direction need to be brought to Ed Miliband’s operation, especially in his private office. He has managed to keep himself out of the headlines, but sometimes you feel that this former civil servant would do well to bash a few heads together.
47. (+51) George Galloway
Respect MP for Bradford West
George Galloway has lately been dropping hints that he’d like to return to the Labour fold. We are not sure how many dead bodies he’d have to walk over to achieve it, but it would be fun watching. His role in the Scottish Referendum campaign has not gone unnoticed, where he has been one of the most powerful advocates of ‘no’. He remains a very powerful – and loud – voice on the left.
48. (+1) Owen Smith
Shadow Welsh Secretary
We think that one day Owen Smith may eclipse Owen Jones in this list. A bold prediction maybe, but if can manage to extricate from his current job and bag a more high profile shadow cabinet job, we believe he could be the surprise package of Labour’s front bench.
49. (RE-ENTRY) Phil Collins
Possibly the most powerful advocate of Blairite politics in the media, Phil Collins is a required read for anyone who wants to understand the position of the ‘Progress’ wing of the Labour Party. He’s an irritant to the current Labour leadership, but that’s how it should be.
50. (-17) Tim Livesey
Ed Miliband’s Chief Of Staff
Tim Livesey is Ed Miliband’s enforcer. People in this role usually crack a lot of eggs to make an omelette. Livesey has managed to keep out of the headlines so it makes us wonder if enough eggs are being cracked. His reputation as a safe pair of hands remains, although some believe he could take more risks. His failure to appoint a Broadcasting officer until very recently was mainly about pacifying those (including Harriet Harman) who were insisting on appointing a woman to the very male Ed Miliband team. They failed to get their own way.
51. (+28) Simon Danczuk MP
Member of Parliament for Rochdale
Probably the most right-wing MP on the Labour benches, it has been rumoured that Danczuk has considered defecting to UKIP. He’s recently been hitting the headlines with his book Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith, which exposes his predecessor as a “predatory paedophile”. His persistent questioning of Leon Brittan’s time as Home Secretary led the Prime Minister to launch an internal inquiry into missing dossiers on child sex abuse. Danzcuk’s wife drew attention to herself this year when she posted selfies of her cleavage on Twitter.
52. (+29) Mark Ferguson
Editor, Labour List
Mark Ferguson is the editor of the Left’s most influential blog, LabourList. Originally founded by Derek Draper, it had a very rocky start for the first year but has now firmly established itself as the come to blog for any respectable lefty. It is to the Left, what ConservativeHome is to the Right. Since Ferguson became Editor in 2010 the blog has conducted its own polls, organised offline events, and now has its own daily email bulletin. Prior to LabourList, he was Islington Labour’s borough organiser, helping to increase both Emily Thornberry’s and Jeremy Corbyn’s majority.
53. (+3) Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
Columnist, The Independent and Evening Standard
Alibhai-Brown has never been one to avoid controversy. Regarded by some as the best radical voice in word and broadcast, she is guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of anyone vaguely on the right. Alibhai-Brown is a popular guest on most current affairs programmes, debating Rod Liddle this year she told him "I have no words to express how much I loathe you". During the debate the Tory MP Michael Fabricant tweeted that he would like to punch Alibhai-Brown “in the throat”, something he later apologised for. She recently became the editor of a new series of short polemics called Provactions, launching with her own book Refuse The Veil.
54. (-2) Nick Lowles
Chief Executive, HOPE not Hate
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 think-tanker on the Left, combining Obama-style online engagement with traditional door-knocking in Barking. As ‘HOPE not Hate’ celebrated its tenth anniversary this year, Lowles turned his guns on to UKIP. Despite exposing the extreme views of some UKIP candidates, which gained considerable media attention, it failed to harm UKIP at the European Elections.
55. (-7) Caroline Lucas
Former Leader of the Green Party
Caroline Lucas may no longer be the leader of the Green Party, but she remains their only MP and here lies her influence. Unlike UKIP the Greens have yet to make a significant dent in the left wing vote, not quite living up to the disaffected Lib Dem hype they were hoping for. She remains the party’s most familiar face on TV, hitting headlines last year after being arrested at an anti-fracking protest. Lucas recently got a telling off from The Speaker for holding up a climate change poster during PMQs. The next year may be a quiet one for her from a national profile point of view as she struggles to hold onto her Brighton Pavillion seat.
56. (+30) David Aaronovitch
Columnist, The Times
Acerbic and witty, Aaranovitch has a capacity to irritate and annoy Left and Right alike with his diatribes. Despite his far-Left past in student politics, he has moved way to the Right and is seen as persona non grata by the left. One of a handful of original thinkers, he is a must read columnist for people across the political spectrum. His ability to offend is legendary and he enjoys the cut and thrust of Twitter. He has continually called for further intervention in the Middle East, most recently to take on ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
57. (-3) Jon Ashworth
MP for Leicester South
An attack dog of the Brown-Balls mould, Ashworth is being used more and more on the media. Following the departure of Tom Watson from the Labour National Executive Committee last year, Ashworth was appointed in his place as the leader’s representative on the party’s ruling body. A former adviser to Gordon Brown and currently Head of Party Relations for Ed Miliband, he has a vast wealth of experience despite only being an MP since the 2011 Leicester South by-election. Already Shadow Cabinet Office Minister it can’t be long before he joins the Shadow Cabinet.
58. (-14) Rosie Winterton
Labour Chief Whip
Winterton’s first job in politics was working in John Prescott’s constituency office in Hull after graduating from the local university. She then went on to become the MP for Doncaster in 1997, holding several ministerial jobs under Brown and Blair. Small but perfectly formed, she was a popular choice as the new Labour Chief Whip after Ed Miliband showed some uncharacteristic ruthlessness by sacking her predecessor Nick Brown. If a Chief Whip’s job is to neither been seen nor heard, she’s doing a pretty good job.
59. (-22) Kevin Maguire
Associate Editor (Politics), The Mirror
The Mirror remains the only mass market newspaper that supports Labour, and as the Associate Editor it is Maguire that decides their political line securing his influence. He is regularly on demand for both TV and radio, often adding his Northern charm the paper reviews during the late evening. Maguire is a particular favourite of mainstream trade unionists. It’s even been known for queues to form at the Durham Miners’ Gala just to meet him. He knows just about everybody in the Labour Party, but seems to have become disillusioned with Project Miliband.
60. (NEW) David Lammy
MP for Tottenham
An authentic and respected figure, Lammy is the first MP to announce plans to seek the Labour nomination for Mayor of London. Best known for his calm and measured response to the 2011 riots, he turned down a position in Ed Miliband’s shadow tea, in order to focus on his constituency. Since then, he has carved a niche as an independent-minded campaigner. Recently outlining a range of proposals for London and continues to be a leading voice on issues affecting the capital. A rags to riches life story, Lammy has the ability to win support across party lines making him a serious contender to be London’s next Mayor.
61. (NEW) Anna Yearley
Ed Miliband's Political Secretary
Yearly has been part of Miliband’s operation throughout his time as leader, and is widely credited as being a major factor in him winning the leadership, reminding his team of the importance of second preferences during the campaign. Her influence comes from the large amount of time she spends with Miliband on the road. She has received criticism, particularly for her handling of the Falkirk selection scandal, but she did help steer through party reforms without major upheaval.
62. (-17) Mark Serwotka
General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union
If you close your eyes and listen to Mark Serwotka’s Welsh tones it is like be transported back to the industrial strife of the 1980s. He is vehemently anti-Tory, and has already joined with other unions to strike against cuts to public services. 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. A quiet year for Serwotka, he is seriously ill and awaiting a heart transplant.
63. (NEW) Luciana Berger
Shadow Minister for Public Health
Berger started her political career like many on the left, on the National Executive Committee of the National Union of Students, but walked out accusing others of anti-Semitism. Five years later she was parachuted in to the safe Labour seat of Liverpool Wavertree. She has since swiftly risen up the ranks, making an impressive impact as Shadow Climate Change Minister attacking the government on its green credentials, before replacing Diane Abbott in the Public Health brief. She criticised Ed Miliband this year for posing with a copy of The Sun, for which he later apologised. A regular on the TV circuit, Berger will go far.
64. (+5) Lisa Nandy
Shadow Minister for Civil Society
Elected in 2010, this young MP is one of only six Asian female MPs in the country. She was appointed as the Shadow Children’s Minister in 2011 and later moved to Shadow Minister for Civil Society. Since the appointment she has performed well in the media and is tipped to go far. In an interview this year she admitted “the forces in British politics at the moment are all on the right”. When at university she had a “Dear Lisa” column where she appeared naked in bed with a woman and complained about the lack of “fit men”. Ooh er.
65. (+9) Liz Kendall
Shadow Minister for Care and Older People
Kendall is another of the impressive female intake of the 2010 General Election, having previously failed to win a seat for Labour in 2001. When she worked at the IPPR think tank as an associate for health and social care, she was soon snapped up to work as a Special Adviser for Patricia Hewitt and later Harriet Harman. She has been a Shadow Minister for Care and Older People since 2011, which allows her to attend Shadow Cabinet meetings but not as a full member. An impressive performer on Question Time.
66. (-7) Chris Leslie
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Back in 1997 Leslie was first elected aged 24 to the constituency Shipley making him the “Baby of the House”. He was later defeated in 2005 by Right-wing Tory Phillip Davies. Between 2005-2010 he was Director of the Blairite think tank, the New Local Government Network, before being re-elected as MP for Nottingham East. He didn’t garner enough votes to get elected to the shadow cabinet, but was later made Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Last year we said he was “guaranteed a place in the shadow cabinet in the coming reshuffle”, which came to fruition when he was promoted to Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
67. (-5) Jason Cowley
Editor, New Statesman
Cowley has often been credited with having an eye for spotting journalistic talent. He was awarded Editor of The Year in the current affairs category by the British Society of Magazine Editors, and continues to keep the ‘Staggers’ name in the headlines with high profile writers. He’s built up the next generation of female writers with Helen Lewis, Caroline Crampton, Sophie McBain, and Anoosh Chakelian all among his team. Following a redesign of the website, it achieved a record high level of traffic in 2013 with 1.15 million unique visitors. It remains the go-to left-of-centre magazine for politicos.
68. (+22) Marcus Roberts
Deputy General Secretary, Fabian Society
Despite being appointed Deputy General Secretary of the Fabian Society in 2011, Marcus Roberts is said to be taken very seriously by Ed Miliband and the Labour Party’s General Secretary Ian McNicol. This year he released an influential paper titled Labour’s Next Majority: A Constituency Guide, outlining how Miliband can win a majority with a 40% strategy. Prior to his work at the Fabian Society, Marcus served as Field Director of the Ed Miliband for Leader campaign and was Campaign Manager for Rushanara Ali’s 2010 Bethnal Green & Bow election.
69. (-5) Dame Tessa Jowell
MP for Dulwich and West Norwood
Jowell performed marvellously as Deputy Mayor of the Olympics at the London 2012 Games. As one of the main people responsible for getting the games in the first place she was on the organising committee. She was made a Dame following the Olympics and is now considered a Labour grandee, offering wise words of advice and support for Labour Leader Ed Miliband. She’s spent a lot of time on the airwaves this year, adding further to the speculation that she will soon announce her campaign for the London Mayoralty. Will it come at the conference?
70. (+5) Dan Jarvis MBE
Shadow Minister for Justice
The charismatic and handsome former British Army Officer Dan Jarvis won the Barnsley Central by-election and was made a Shadow Minister. Despite his culture portfolio, he is most effective when speaking on military issues particularly, when attacking cuts to the Armed Forces, for which he has won plaudits from all parties. Promoted to Shadow Minister for Justice in last year’s reshuffle, it would be surprising if he wasn’t in the Cabinet if Labour wins the next election.
71. (-28) Diane Abbott
Labour MP for Hackney
The idea of Diane Abbott influencing anything other than Michael Portillo’s shirt colour would have provoked hollow laughter in Labour Party circles in 2010. But not now. She may not have come close to winning the Labour leadership but she has skilfully 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 became one of Labour’s best front bench performers. However she was sacked in last year’s reshuffle over apparent lack of loyalty to the leader. She immediately went on to criticise Miliband for "pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment", proving him right. It’s said she now wants to run for mayor of London. Oh dear.
72. (-22) Sir Richard Leese
Leader, Manchester City Council
Sir Richard has been Leader of Manchester City Council for nearly 20 years, regenerating the city after the awful 1996 IRA bomb. It was said in the 1980s that local government was the bulwark against Thatcherism. In Manchester that is still the case. Lease runs a near one party council with Labour taking 95 of the 96 seats available seats at this year’s local elections, with not a single Tory councillor in the entire city. He has been praised for his inventive policies and strong leadership. The Kim Jong-Un of local government. And we mean that in a nice way.
73. (-) Baroness Lawrence
Campaigner and Labour Peer
No one can forget the horrifying racist murder of Stephen Lawrence back in 1993 and the 20-year long fight for justice that followed led by his mother Doreen Lawrence. Last year justice was finally served as Gary Dobson and David Norris were both convicted of his murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. As the most prominent British Jamaican woman in the country she has fought hard against racism and for community relations. Last year she joined the House of Lords on the Labour benches, and was praised by Theresa May as a “game changer”. A strong outsider for the London Mayoralty.
74. (NEW) Jenni Russell
Columnist & Commentator
Jenni Russell is a winner of the Orwell Prize for Political Journalism, and is one of the many respected female journalists on the left in the UK. Despite her child’s godfather being none other than Ed Miliband, she is not afraid of criticising him. Describing Miliband in one column this year as “uncharismatic, uninspiring, uninterested in others’ views”. 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.
75. (-29) Lord Sainsbury
This wealthy businessman has been one of the biggest donors to the Labour Party since the early days of Tony Blair. Last year he wrote a book called ‘Progressive Capitalism’ which has been well reviewed by those on the Left and the Right. A billionaire, he inherited most of his money from the family’s supermarket business. He helps to fund a number of think tanks including Progress, Policy Network and the Institute of Government, hence his influence. He upset the Labour leadership when he called Ed Miliband “average” in comparison to Thatcher and Blair.
76. (NEW) Eddie izzard
Comedian, actor, and campaigner, Izzard has been a lifelong Labour supporter. His stand-up comedy performances are a tour de force, however his interventions in politics have been less successful. Supporting the euro, Gordon Brown, Alternative Vote, Ken Livingstone, and press regulation, you could hardly say he has an eye for a winner. Yet he is one of the few celebrities brave enough to put his head above the parapet, which makes him the most in demand name at Labour fundraisers. He helped organise a Scotland love in at Trafalgar Square during the week of the referendum declaring “This is our time to show Scotland that we care”.
IF VOTE NO: It could well be the first campaign Izzard has supported that has actually won.
IF VOTE YES: Another unsuccessful result to add to Izzard’s list of failed campaigns.
77. (NEW) John Mills
The Labour Party’s biggest individual donor, Mills made his multimillion pound fortune through the TV home shopping company JML Limited. He gave the Labour Party £1.65 million of shares last year, as well as a whole host of different campaigns including Labour for an EU Referendum. This former Camden councillor doesn’t fit the typical Labour mould having been private schooled then educated at Oxford. His brother is married to Dame Tessa Jowell, which may give us an insight into who he will support financially as the Labour candidate for London Mayor.
78. (NEW) John McTernan
Commentator and Writer
McTernan arrived back on these shores last year after a bumpy year as Director of Communications for Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Prior to that he was Head of Policy for the Scottish First Minister, and then Political Secretary to Tony Blair during his time in Downing Street. His columns are a must read for those on both sides of the spectrum, recently describing Michael Gove as an “intellectual thug”. As one of the Left’s best strategists, he will surely play a role in next year’s General Election.
79. (NEW) Gloria de Piero
Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities
Most people will remember de Piero for her seven year stint as political correspondent for GMTV. But in 2010 she jumped ship and joined the Commons achieving the biggest national swing of 17.2% away from the Liberal Democrats. She has taken full advantage of Cameron’s perceived problem with female voters, by touring across the country meeting working women and listening to their concerns. It may sound like a cheap gimmick but it has been very successful. One of Labour’s top media performers.
80. (-33) Maria Eagle
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
One of the two Eagle sisters, Maria Eagle was elected to the shadow cabinet back in October 2010 and was made Shadow Transport Secretary by Ed Miliband. However she made little impact in the role, failing to offer a different vision to the Coalition on Transport. At the last reshuffle she was moved sideways to Environment. Despite a good handling of the floods earlier in the year she has made little headway in the role.
81. (NEW) Simon Fletcher
Ed Miliband’s Trade Union Liaison Manager
The fact that Ed Miliband has a Trade Union Liaison Manager shows just how close the current Labour Party is to the unions. A former Chief of Staff to Ken Livingstone, Fletcher is undoubtedly the most left wing member of Team Miliband. Some Blairites worry about just how much influence Fletcher has on the leader, but he is widely respected by most of party for his intellect and effectiveness.
82. (NEW) Alan Johnson
Member of Parliament for Hull West and Hessle
One of the most well-known and well respected politicians in the country, Johnson has had a tough few years culminating in the divorce of his wife earlier this year. Last year his touching childhood memoir This Boy became a Sunday Times Bestseller and scored top reviews in every national newspaper. A regular on the This Week sofa alongside Michael Portillo, he is the calm, reassuring voice of the Labour Party. Ed Miliband could really do with this working class hero in his Cabinet, but whether Johnson will return to frontline politics is anyone’s guess.
83. (-15) Matthew McGregor
The hiring of McGregor by Labour last year sounded the starting pistol of the digital election of 2015. Famed as Barack Obama’s “digital attack dog” and “backroom Brit” during the 2012 US Presidential Elections, he capitalised on every Republican gaffe and Miliband is hoping he can do the same to the Conservatives. His official role is unclear, but we know he has been advising the Labour Party on their campaign strategy going forward and forms part of the Digital Task Force. The closer we get to 2015 the more his influence will grow.
84. (NEW) Ayesha Hazarika
Senior Adviser to Harriet Harman
Hazarika is not only the Deputy Leader’s most senior adviser, but is also an integral part of Ed Miliband’s team as one of his key advisers for set pieces especially PMQs and conference speeches. Before entering politics she was a stand-up comedian, and now writes many of Miliband's jokes. She is said to be looking for a Labour seat.
85. (NEW) Lucy Powell
Shadow Minister for Childcare and Children
Another of the impressive female MPs among Ed Miliband’s team, Powell was made Shadow Minister for Childcare and Children less than a year after she elected in a 2012 by election. Her first year in the Commons was a quiet one as she was on maternity leave, but this year she is being used more and more on the media. As the Member of Parliament for Manchester Central, she has been calling for more devolution for English cities in the wake of the Scottish Referendum. Powell has jokingly named this policy Devo-Manc.
86. (+7) Natalie Bennett
Leader of the Green Party
A few years ago nobody had ever heard Natalie Bennett, but now at least a few people in the Westminster Village have. She was elected in 2012 to replace Caroline Lucas as Leader of the Green Party, and this former editor of Guardian Weekly is gradually building up a media profile to match her predecessor. The Australian-raised leader has her work cut out to prove whether she can win over disaffected LibDems, after the Greens vote share actually fell at the European Elections. However it cannot be denied that the Green Party is the only mainstream left alternative to Labour.
87. (NEW) Patrick Hennessy
Labour Party’s Deputy Communications Director
Hennessy was a stalwart of the lobby, serving as Political Editor of the Sunday Telegraph for almost ten years before being poached by Miliband as Deputy Communications Director last year. A close insider during the Brown years, he is in charge of managing the press for the rest of the Shadow Cabinet team, raising the profiles of the likes of Liz Kendall and Rachel Reeves.
88. (-28) Johann Lamont
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party
Following the disastrous results for Labour in the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, it was decided that the Scottish Labour leader was to be elected by all members of the party in Scotland not just Members of the Scottish Parliament. So Lamont was elected as the first overall leader of the Scottish Labour Party. Labour ran a truly shambolic Better Together campaign in Scotland, and she is in part to blame for that. It would seem that Labour have lost voters in Scotland that they will never win back.
89. (-34) Peter Tatchell
Human Rights Campaigner
After the Government announced that they were to have a consultation on equal marriage, Peter Tatchell was quick to rally people in favour. His hard work paid off with the passing of the Same-Sex Marriage Act in Parliament. When same sex couples got married for the first time this year, they owed a large thanks to this lifelong activist. His latest campaign is to allow straight couples to have a civil partnership.
90. (NEW) Ian Lavery
Member of Parliament for Wansbeck & President of the National Union of Mineworkers
A militant in the 1980s, Lavery was arrest at least six times during the Miners’ Strike. In 2002 he was elected as President of the NUM, seen by many as the natural successor to Arthur Scargill. One of the few 2010 Labour MPs of the old left, he is now a member of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs. He is known to be very ambitious, but will have to tone down his views if he is to climb the ministerial ladder.
91. (-4) Baroness Jones
Green Party Peer and Member of the London Assembly
Jenny Jones has been a member of the London Assembly for the Green Party since 2000, becoming one of the party’s most recognisable faces after Caroline Lucas and Natalie Bennett. A strong media performer, she did well during the Mayoral debates in 2012 and beat the Lib Dems into third place at the ballot box. Very likeable, she was made a member of the House of Lords, making her the only Green peer.
92. (NEW) Peter Hain
Former Cabinet Minister
This year Hain announced that he was stepping down from his Neath seat at the next election after almost 25 years as its member of Parliament. However Hain made it clear it that it was his “firm intention to remain active in politics”. We suspect that by next year’s list he will have joined the House of Lords, and depending on the election results could be back in the Cabinet 13 years after he originally joined it.
93. (-15) Chris Bryant
Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions
Bryant has not had the best few years. He underperformed shadowing the immigration brief and was moved to Work and Pensions at the last reshuffle under Rachel Reeves. Always a colourful media performer, the boy from the Rhondda has spent most of this year promoting his excellent two volume history of Parliament. Unless Bryant starts to make more of impact he may not be on this list next year.
94. (NEW) James Bloodworth
Editor of Left Foot Forward
Editor of Left Foot Forward, Bloodworth has lifted the site’s prominence and readership since taking over last year. Alongside Labour List, it is a must read for those on the left from Shadow Cabinet members to activists. He also writes for The Spectator, New Statesman and The Independent. He shares something in common with Alan Johnson as they are both former postmen.
95. (-3) Salma Yaqoob
Former Leader of Respect
The most well-known Muslim woman on the British political scene, Yaqoob became politically active after being spat on following the September 11 attacks. Since her resignation from Respect several Labour MPs called for her to join their party, describing her as an “asset”. She has yet to express any party political allegiances, but remains active on issues like Palestine and the veil. A regular on Question Time, she never gives a bad performance.
96. (-2) Anas Sarwar
Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour
Sarwar is the young, charismatic MP for Glasgow Central who was elected as the Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour in 2011. He often outshines Johann Lamont, the leader of Scottish Labour, with his usually brilliant media performances. Vice Chair of Progress, he was also named “Best New Scottish Politician” by The Sun in 2009. At only 30, Sarwar is already being tipped for greatness. However, as chief coordinator of Labour's 2014 Scottish referendum campaign he must take some blame for its failings.
97. (NEW) Joey Barton
Barton nearly caused Twitter to explode when on a Question Time panel he described UKIP as the best of "four really ugly girls". One of few footballers with a brain he is not scared to speak out on political issues. His Twitter feed is a strange mix of football and politics. He recently got into an online spat with former Liverpool footballer Yossi Benayoun, after Barton condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza. A strong defender of gay rights, he was this year named “Straight Ally of the Year”.
98. (NEW) Humza Yousaf
Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow
One of the most impressive voices during the Scottish Independence referendum, this young MSP has the ambition and the talent to replace Alex Salmond as SNP leader. Yousaf caused a bit of a storm when he appeared on Question Time and accused the chair David Dimbleby of being “patronising”.
IF VOTE YES: Scotland’s Yes vote was in part down to Yousaf’s brilliant media hits during the campaign .
IF VOTE NO: Despite Scotland rejecting independence, did well to advance his cause as far as he did thanks for his brilliant media hits during the campaign.
99. (NEW) Damian McBride
Columnist & Former Special Advisor to Gordon Brown
McBride has undergone a partial rehabilitation since the publication of his revelatory book Power Trip during last year’s Labour conference. His public pronouncements are avidly read by political geeks on all sides of the debate and he’s achieved guru status for some. There may be no way back for him working for Labour, but his views on Ed Miliband and his strategy are eagerly sought after.
100. (-4) Leanne Wood
Leader of Plaid Cymru
Leanne Wood has been leader of the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru for over two years, and yet her party has made little progress, even losing votes at the European Election. A self-avowed socialist, she became the first Welsh Assembly Member to be ejected from the chamber for referring to the Queen as “Mrs Windsor”. Some in Plaid Cymru worry that her far-Left beliefs have scared voters away. Plaid Cymru’s and her failings were shown up by the growing success of the SNP during the Independence referendum.