Each year the Telegraph assemblies a group of experts to compile a list of the top fifty ranked members of the Liberal Democratic Party and it allies. The ranking is based on the panels judgement of the performance of the politicians over the past year.
The great gamble of taking the Liberal Democrats into coalition for the lifetime of this Parliament, reaches its half way stage this year and the “Cleggster”, Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, is still in office and still at number one on this list. The rumours of an EU post swirl around, the in depth interviews and profiles try to project the complex nature of his position and the honesty of what he was trying to do. But the questions that are increasingly being asked and the question indeed that permeates this list: what are the Liberal Democrats for and can you ever trust them again? And, more directly for Clegg: how long can he last?
As the panel assembled to discuss the right wing list the first debate was where to put the leader of UKIP. The slot for the third party might well be open and the Liberal Democrats space in British politics might soon be filled. This vacuum is replicated by the vacuum at the top of the Liberal Democratic party. So the old boy makes yet another come back - there are then third and even fourth acts in the British politics - and they all seem to star Vince Cable - up five places this year to second. Is he the one with the power? The judgment that the party must make is who - Nick or Vince - is more likely to save them their seats at the next election. The party seems to be more and more focussed on that coming contest.
In the middle ranking order there have suddenly appeared a coterie of men of in suits, party bureaucrats, donors, technicians: Lord Newby - a new entry at 30, has taken charge of the whipping in the Lords, Tim Gordon (new in at 33) took over and took in hand the management of the party as Chief Executive, the main he replaced, Lord Rennard, a new entry at 35, has made a considerable comeback this year as a key adviser especially on the boundaries issue. Neil Sherlock, new in at 37, combines a government role with a strategic position within the party. Along with Mark Park (up to 32 )and Stephen Tall (new entry at 41)at Liberal Democrat voice, the team that will try to save the party at the next election is coming together.
Space has made for these new men by the significant clear-out of the top 50. Included in those who are out of the list are the failed Minister Chris Huhne, formerly at 4th, the old speech writer to Clegg, Polly Mackenzie formerly at 9th, former armed forces minister who was soft on Iran, Nick Harvey formerly at 19 . Two other formerly top 30 figures also go out: the special adviser that no one seemed to be listening too, Richard Reeves and the failed candidate for Mayor Brian Paddick. Out too goes the failed minister Sarah Teather formerly at number 40. Bloodletting at this level is a new sport for the Liberal Democrats and they are not quite used to the speed with which politics can change. Sarah Teather had a starring role in the conference programme, printed before the reshuffle, and the demise of her ministerial career, her picture greeted all the delegates at conference on arrival.
The crisis of identity in the party both nationally and locally has continued. Tim Farron (no change at 3) and Simon Hughes (at 6th) are both known as the Liberal Democrats conscience and both have improved their standing this year. There is a question of course about the extent to which a party can have a plethora of consciences and still have a recognisable political identity. For both Farron and Hughes the balancing act of being both loyal and in a position to challenge Cable for the leadership when it falls vacate has been successfully performed over the year. For Hughes back in as Deputy Leader, it has been an especially strong performance. But Farron remains the one to watch and the man most likely to dish Cable for the top job when Clegg finally gives up.
It used to be the case that the public were sometimes mystified as to who the Liberal Democrats were and what they stood for. The mystery has been solved and the perception of them now seems clear – they are a bunch of slightly whiney politicians who are pretty much the same as the other two bunches of whiney politicians - they break promises and then they apologise. They hate being disliked and the only option they have left is to stay the course and hope voters give them a very complex and nuanced benefit of the doubt. If they don’t then UKIP are waiting in the wings to take over as the Third Party of British politics.
- (-) Nick Clegg
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
An appalling year for Nick Clegg, he just about clings to the top spot. From the bigot speech that never was, to the great apology over his tuition fee promise, things have gone from bad to worse for Nick Clegg. He is rightly praised for his bravery to take the LibDems into Coalition, but his brand has now become so toxic that it may have reached the point of no return. He pleased his party by refusing to agree to boundary reviews after the Tory backbenchers scuppered his Lords Reform, but he still faces challenges from all directions. The next year will be a crucial one for Clegg.
- (+5) Vince Cable
Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills
A big rise for Vince Cable in this year’s list. He’s heavily tipped (not least by himself) to be Clegg’s successor and maybe even challenger. Despite a less than assured performance in Cabinet, Cable is unsackable, and he knows it, despite revelations that he has been having secret meetings with Ed Balls and texting Ed Miliband. A Blair-Brown crisis has emerged within the LibDems, and if Cable wants, it could turn very nasty indeed.
- (-) Tim Farron
President of the Liberal Democrats
Tim Farron had a big rise in last year’s list, and has cemented his place in the party’s hearts as their conscience. He’s an accomplished speaker and knows how to rabble rouse. He is almost certain to stand in any leadership contest. A committed Christian, he many encounter some resistance in a very secular party
- (-2) Danny Alexander
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Although he wields power as a member of the Quad (Cameron, Osborne and Clegg being the other members), he has lost influence among his own Party for his strict adherence to spending cuts. He is seen as too supplicant to George Osborne. Being proved right over tuition fees has cut little ice among LibDem activists. The LibDem left now regard him as a Tory in all but name.
- (-) Jonathan Oates
Chief of Staff to the Deputy Prime Minister
Oates is a PR specialist and did a good job in refashioning the whole LibDem communications structure before returning to the private sector in 2009. Clegg persuaded him to return for the election and his first job in the coalition was as deputy to Andy Coulson. When he became Chief of Staff to the Deputy Prime Minister he totally revamped his office. If you want to get to Clegg you have to get to Jonny Oates first. And therein lies his influence.
- (-) Simon Hughes
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats
After twenty years as a leading player in LibDem politics – often described as the best leader they never had - Hughes’s star was very much on the wane. Yet as the party’s deputy leader, he has found a new lease of life and his role as ‘conscience of the party’ is giving him a role in which he feels free to critique the coalition and play up to his self-styled role as protector of all things liberal. He wisely turned down a junior job in the reshuffle, which would have neutered his influence.
- (+9) David Laws
Minister of State, Department for Education and the Cabinet Office
When Laws returned to government following the reshuffle it was welcomed with open arms by both coalition parties. A very close ally of Clegg, his position at the Cabinet Office will ensure he attends top level government meetings including the Cabinet, while his role at the Education Department will see him work alongside Michael Gove to make free schools a success, and also to ensure the LibDems flagship education policy on the pupil premium is properly administered. Many hope that Laws will return to the Cabinet in the not too distant future. However, he remains a bête noir of the LibDem left.
- (+6) Alastair Carmichael
Convivial and well liked, the MP for Britain’s most northerly constituency and Deputy Chief Whip in the Commons has not had a typical rise through the ranks. Very popular in the party, Carmichael’s star is very much on the ascendant. He worked well with the Conservative chief whip Patrick McLoughlin and is increasingly highly thought of.
- (+4) Lord Ashdown
Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats 1988-1999
It was Ashdown who led the LibDems to an electoral breakthrough in 1997 and for that reason alone he is revered by LibDems. Intrinsically anti-Tory, he, together with Ming Campbell, led a rearguard action to try to persuade Nick Clegg to give Labour a real chance in the coalition negotiations. However Ashdown has put those feelings aside and has been a stout defender of Nick Clegg, perhaps because he is one of a small number who understand the uncomfortable burden of government placed on Clegg’s shoulder.
- (+11) Ed Davey
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
Davey’s quiet effectiveness as a minister at the Business Department was rewarded when he joined the Cabinet this year, following his appointment as Energy Secretary after the departure of Chris Huhne. Although he has displayed quiet competence, Davey has yet to make a real impact in the role. The real test will come over the next few months as he faces opposition over his green policies by Tory colleagues, including the new Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and his own Energy Minister John Hayes.
- (+4) Michael Moore
Secretary of State for Scotland
Many were surprised when Moore was promoted to the Cabinet least of all himself. However over the last year he has proven himself to be a safe pair of hands and avoid any major cockups. He may be rather lacklustre, but Moore will find himself at the heart of independence referendum standing shoulder to shoulder with Alistair Darling at the forefront of the Better Together campaign over the next year.
- (-4) Steve Webb
Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions
Deeply cerebral, Webb was tipped as a possible leadership candidate in the last LibDem leadership election, but decided instead to back Nick Clegg. He got his reward by being appointed to his dream role as Pensions Minister at the Department of Work & Pensions. Widely seen to be on the left of the party, Webb is acknowledged as an expert in his field by politicians across the political divides. His fall in this year’s lists reflects a growing concern among Lib Dems that he is not doing enough to argue their side at the DWP.
- (+7) Lord Oakeshott
Liberal Democrat Peer
As Vince Cable’s cheerleader-in-chief, Lord Oakeshott has had a fantastic year by all accounts. Whenever he speaks he manages to create a headline, and hardly a day goes by without Oakeshott appearing on TV denouncing another Coalition policy. He is the biggest thorn in Clegg’s side, with Oakeshott already calling for Clegg to be replaced by Cable. Although his outspoken nature appeals to certain sections of his party, many believe it is now wearing thin.
- (+11) Jeremy Browne
Minister of State, Home Office
In spite of being the most right wing Liberal Democrat MP in the House of Commons, Browne is slowly but surely growing in popularity with the grassroots - even the beard and sandals brigade. He was a solid performer at the Foreign Office, and has taken a sideway shift to help bulk up the Home Office team. He holds firm free market convictions and is the nearest thing the LibDems have to a Eurosceptic. His classical liberal tendencies should help ensure that the Lib Dem commitment to civil liberties is maintained while he is at the Home Office.
- (+2) Lynne Featherstone
Parliamentary Under Secretary, Department for International Development
Feisty and telegenic, Lynne Featherstone was a low-key winner in the reshuffle, securing a long held ambition to move to international development issues and avoid being pigeon-holed permanently as ‘the equalities person’. Very popular with party members, the absence of equal marriage from the Coalition Agreement did not stop her taking it to the verge of legislation before the reshuffle. Far less active on social media than before entering government, Featherstone still continues to be one of the higher profile Liberal Democrats online and is one of the few blogging ministers.
- (+25) Jo Swinson
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
In a meteoric rise Swinson went from PPS to Vince Cable, to PPS to Nick Clegg, and now minister at the Business Department. Many have speculated she is at BIS to keep Cable in check on behalf of Clegg. Whatever the reason it falls to her and the rest of her BIS colleagues to steer British business out of recession over the next year. Her husband Duncan Hames takes her old job as Clegg’s PPS, solidifying their position as the Party’s power couple. Swinson is an impressive media performer, and many expect her to become Secretary of State for Scotland before the end of the Parliament.
- (-5) Baroness Williams
Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords
Although she no longer holds an official position, Shirley Williams is seen as the Grandmother of the Liberal Democrats, as well as a national treasure. She was an outspoken critic of the coalition’s health reforms in 2011; however this year has been a quiet one for Williams. After Nick Clegg and Charles Kennedy she is probably the LibDems’ most recognized face on TV.
- (+4) Norman Baker
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport
The maverick’s maverick, Baker is seen as an obsessive, even by his party colleagues. He has been a surprise success as a Minister and is one of the few LibDems who seems to understand the concept of collective responsibility. Post-reshuffle he is the only Transport Minister who has remained in post since 2010, over the next year it will fall to him as the only LibDem in the department to block any plans over Heathrow expansion or avoid abandonment of HS2.
- (-8) Norman Lamb
Minister of State, Department for Health
In 2010 it was widely expected that Lamb would become health minister, but it was rumoured this was vetoed by the then Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. However when Lansley was replaced with Jeremy Hunt in the reshuffle Lamb was finally given the health brief, after a brief sojourn as a BIS minister. A doughty campaigner and good frontbench performer, his promotion to Minister of State ironically results in a fall down the list as he lost the PPS job he had with Clegg last year.
- (+24) Julian Huppert
LibDem MP for Cambridge
On a Lib Dem Voice poll of the most impressive new Liberal Democrat MP elected in 2010 Huppert topped the polls. He is independently minded and on the left of his party, he voted against any increase in tuition fees and is a passionate anti-nuclear weapons campaigner. Huppert maybe a key rebel on the Lib Dem benches, but over the past year he has grown in stature and is widely respected by the leadership for his intellect. His battle with the Coalition over email surveillance plans only helped to bolster his ever increasing popularity with the party’s grassroots.
- (+3) Sean Kemp
Deputy Head of Press, Number 10 Downing Street
With a background in journalism and a nose for a story, Sean Kemp is a trusted contact for the media within No10. His hard-hitting and questioning style became an essential part of the preparation of Nick Clegg for the leadership debates. He also held his nerve as the then Head of Media under the onslaught from the media against the party. He, Olly Grender and Jonny Oates have formed a tight knit team which is strong on trust and fast moving when necessary. He has earned the respect of his Conservative coalition and the media in his new role at No10.
- (+6)Olly Grender
Head of Press for the Deputy Prime Minister
Although Grender’s role as Nick Clegg’s Head of Press is a temporary one, as Lena Pietsch’s maternity cover, she is now seen as indispensable to the Clegg operation and will undoubtedly be kept on in another capacity upon Pietsch’s return. A former speech writer and Director of Communications for the Liberal Democrats under Paddy Ashdown's leadership, she was Director of Communications for Shelter the homelessness charity. Her regular appearances on Newsnight and her calmness under pressure have led to suggestions that she might one day adorn the LibDem benches in the Lords.
- (+10) Willie Rennie
Leader, Scottish Liberal Democrats
After the 2011 Scottish elections he became the only new Lib Dem MSP, and was elected unopposed as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Rennie has made himself popular with the leadership because of his loyalty to the UK Liberal Democrats. He will play an important part in the Scottish Independence referendum, already causing rows in Scotland by accusing the Chief Executive the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations of secretly working with SNP for more powers.
- (-14) Evan Harris
Former LibDem MP for Oxford West & Abingdon
Harris had a very good year in 2011 as one of the main campaigners of the Hacked Off campaign, bringing a bit of ‘A’ list glamour to Lib Dem conference with his guest Hugh Grant. In comparison 2012 has been a quiet year for the ex-MP . This inveterate ‘taker-upper’ of causes recently sunk to new lows by taking ecstasy for a Channel 4 documentary. However his admiration among party members and his position as Vice Chair of the LibDem’s Federal Policy Committee ensures his influence remains.
- (-2) David Heath
Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
One of the few LibDems MPs who seems to be popular across the party – maybe it’s because he has a beard and appears avuncular. Well liked among his coalition colleagues, his success as Deputy Leader of the House of Commons earned him a promotion to Minister of State at DEFRA in the reshuffle. Thrown right into the thick of it Heath has already been doing the rounds defending the recently announced badger cull, and is said to be looking at legislation to deliver fairer milk prices for farmers.
- (+5) Kirsty Williams
Leader, Welsh Liberal Democrats
Having joined the Liberal Democrats at the age of just 15, Williams is clearly something of a die-hard: she was a staunch campaigner for a Welsh Assembly in the 1997 referendum, and became an Assembly Member in its first ever election in 1999. Despite leading her party to a poor performance at the 2011 Assembly Elections, losing one seat overall, she remains a likeable and well respected figure among the national party.
- (-9) Lord McNally
Minister of State, Ministry of Justice
A genial figure, Lord McNally started political life as head of James Callaghan’s political office. Elected to the Commons in 1979 he defected to the SDP two years later. He was one of the key players in the overthrow of Charles Kennedy. Viewed as a disappointment by many LibDems because of the lack of impact he has made in his Justice brief, his influence has waned further with the appointment of Chris Grayling as Justice Secretary.
- (-2) Julian Astle
Deputy Head, Number 10 Policy Unit
Julian Astle is currently Deputy Head of the Number 10 Policy Unit, having replaced Polly Mackenzie who is on maternity leave. He is one of the most important people within Clegg’s inner circle, working closely with the Tories looking at policy ideas for the second half of this Parliament. He is best known for his work with the Centre Forum think tank, which he ran from 2005-2011. Previously he worked as Paddy Ashdown's political advisor in his last two years as party leader and during his time in Bosnia alongside David Cameron's Chief of Staff Ed Llewellyn.
- (+6) James McGrory
Press Officer, Number Ten Downing Street
Handling most of the Deputy Prime Minister’s press and communications, James McGrory has climbed the greasy pole to become Nick Clegg’s favourite and most trusted spin doctor. Described by some as a cockney thug he is not your typical Liberal Democrat. He has also been described as the best press officer in the business. He has achieved power and influence at a very young age. Time will tell if this former party researcher seeks elected office.
- (NEW) Lord Newby
Deputy Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords
Lord Newby was drafted in earlier this year as the party’s Chief Whip in the Lords to help bolster the leadership and maintain discipline in the Lords. Previous roles with the Lib Dems include Treasury spokesman, press officer to Paddy Ashdown, and Chief of Staff to Charles Kennedy during his time as leader.
- (+14) Duncan Hames
PPS to Nick Clegg and LibDem MP for Chippenham
At the start of the year things did not look good for Duncan Hames, as PPS, as his boss, the then Energy was forced to resign. However Hames has remained fiercely loyal to the Lib Dem leadership, and this year was promoted as he replaced his wife Jo Swinson as PPS to Nick Clegg in the reshuffle. He is tipped by many for a future ministerial career, much to the annoyance of some of his colleagues who view his fast rise up the greasy pole with suspicion.
- (+7) Mark Pack
Co-editor, Liberal Democrat Voice
Mark Pack is a key player in the LibDem blogosphere, including being Co-Editor of the successful Liberal Democrat Voice blog. Co-author of 101 Ways To Win An Election, he is also considered one of the party’s key thinkers on campaigning tactics and organization. He left his job at LibDem HQ to take up a position with a communications consultancy, but is still a figure of influence behind the scenes. He is a close political ally of Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone. He is increasingly used by the mainstream media as a pundit, especially BBC News and Radio 4.
- (NEW) Tim Gordon
Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats
A relatively unknown when appointed as the party’s Chief Executive, Gordon was a long-standing local activist who had combined that with a successful career in strategic business managements. His quiet, low-key appearance belies a willingness to confront difficult decisions and his time at party HQ has been winning plaudits for careful management of scarce resources. He has also put a strong emphasis on improving internal communications in the party, introducing a popular weekly internal email recapping the party’s main messages.
- (NEW) Matthew Hanney
Political Advisor to Nick Clegg
Matthew has worked for Nick Clegg for over six years and is well respected throughout the party. His role as Senior Political Adviser puts him in contact with the grassroots of the party day in day out and ensures that Nick Clegg keeps in touch with the party at all levels. Matthew advises the Leader and his office on party feeling and is crucial in ensuring the leadership stays connected with the party.
- (NEW) Lord Rennard
Former Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats
The party’s former Chief Executive has had rather a renaissance in the last year. His advice on political tactics and campaigning approaches is increasingly being listened to at the very top levels of the party, especially over issues such as the boundary reforms. Coupled with his increasing media profile, especially in the pages of The Guardian, Rennard is rapidly returning to his previous position as one of the party’s most influential strategists.
- (NEW) Don Foster
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Foster has been MP for Bath now for 20 years, first elected when he famously defeated Chris Patten in the 1992 General Election. Foster has flourished in government as one of the LibDem spokesmen on the Olympics. He sat on the Olympic Board and was also made Deputy Mayor of the Paralympic Village. Following the reshuffle he joined the Department for Communities and Local Government, with special responsibilities for building regulations.
- (NEW) Neil Sherlock
Director of Government Relations
One of the biggest LibDems donors, at one point Sherlock was even funding Nick Clegg’s office directly. He remains a senior executive at accounting firm KPMG despite being appointed as the Director of Government Relations earlier this year. One of Sherlock's roles is to curry favour with business groups and help to oversee the work of the special advisers. He is married to Baroness Parminter, and previously contested the seat of Surrey South West for the LibDems in 1992 and 1997.
- (+9) Gerald Vernon-Jackson
Leader of the Liberal Democrats on the Local Government Association
A veteran campaigner and party stalwart, Gerald has been a Councillor in Portsmouth since 2003 and has been Leader of the Council since 2004. He’s a former Councillor in rural Berkshire and his assent through local government ranks was completed this year when he became Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the LGA. Born and brought up in Hampshire he trained as a social worker and is a member of the Federal Executive.
- (NEW) Jo Foster
Deputy Chief of Staff to Nick Clegg
Jo Foster has only been Deputy Chief of Staff to Nick Clegg for a year but has already made a big impact. The former Chief Executive of the Welsh Liberal Democrats is popular and down to earth. She keeps Nick Clegg in check and has an important role as his gatekeeper. Jo is a crucial link between the leader and the parliamentary party and works closely with Jonny Oates on strategy and negotiating within the coalition.
- (NEW) Baroness Kramer
Former MP for Richmond Park
Following her defeat in Richmond Park at the hands of Conservative Zac Goldsmith in 2010, Susan Kramer subsequently lost out to Tim Farron to become the Party’s President. Following this double defeat Kramer was elevated to the Lords and made Treasury Spokesperson for the Lib Dems. Over recent months her media appearances have become more frequent, often speaking out to defend the LibDem polices of wealth taxes and opposing a third runway at Heathrow.
- (NEW) Stephen Tall
Co-editor, Liberal Democrat Voice
Stephen Tall’s influence stems for Liberal Democrat Voice, the must-read site for party activists which hehelped take over running when its founder, Rob Fenwick, stood down. It is Tall who runs the site’s surveys of party members, whose results often find their way into the media. A Research Associate at CentreForum, Tall is usually more at home with the politics of David Laws than of Simon Hughes, but rarely picks factional fights, being a critical friend of the party who prefers to talk up its achievements rather than knock them down.
- (-10) Sharon Bowles
This year Bowles added her name to a handful of LibDem MEPs who will not be restanding in 2014, however she was successfully reelected to the highly influential role of Chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs in Europe. In 2011 she was ranked as the highest placed Brit in a list of the most influential figures in global financial regulation, beating both George Osborne and Mervyn King.
- (NEW) Tim Leunig
Chief Economist at Centre Forum
Economist Tim Leunig may work at CentreForum but his views are often those more associated with the social liberal wing of the party – and he was recently elected to the Social Liberal Forum’s council. He is extremely media friendly, regularly turning technical issues into media-friendly soundbites and headline catching figures. Active also online, Leunig’s ability to marshal an impressive range of evidence to back up his views often makes him a very influential voice in party debates.
- (NEW) Sir Ian Wrigglesworth
Treasurer of the Liberal Democrats
One of the great survivors of Lib Dem politics, Sir Ian Wrigglesworth was one of only six SDP MPs elected in 1983, losing in 1987. He was the first President of the merged party, presiding over both its calamitous early years and the beginnings of revival. With a background in business in North East England, in 2010–12 he worked alongside Michael Heseltine in heading the Regional Growth Fund Advisory Panel. In March 2012, he became Treasurer of the Liberal Democrats, spearheading the party's fund-raising efforts.
- (-2) Fiona Hall
Leader, UK Liberal Democrat MEPs
Despite the second-term MEP announcing this year that she will not be seeking reelection, Hall’s influence as the leader of the LibDem delegation in Brussels has not diminished. She worked for several LibDem MPs from the mid-1990s before winning election to the European Parliament in 2004. Her work, both as an MEP and externally, has focused on renewable energy and climate change.
- (NEW) Sir Ming Campbell
Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats 2006-07
Elder Statesman of the LibDems, Sir Ming Campbell, has made a comeback this year as a mediator of party disputes. He has previously spoke out about LibDems getting too comfortable with the Conservatives, and more recently poured scorn on Vince Cable for his secret talks with Ed Balls and the Labour Party. An experienced media performer, he is often seen commenting on the foreign policy issues of the day.
- (NEW) Tom Brake
Deputy Leader of the House of Commons
Never highlighted as one of the most exciting members of his party, Tom Brake, the MP for Carshalton and Wallington was a reliable spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats’ Home Affairs team for the first two years of the Coalition. His patience and loyalty to the party whip were rewarded when he was promoted in the reshuffle to Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, a role which will provide him with influence over the Parliamentary timetable for the next few years.
- (-) Miriam Gonzalez-Durantez
Wife of the Deputy Prime Minister
Mirian Gonzalez-Durantez is no ordinary politician’s wife. For a start she turned her nose up at the usual campaigning in the election and got on with her high flying corporate lawyer day job, describing the media interest as “patronizing”. As a former EU official and the daughter of a Spanish Senator, her knowledge of the world of politics rivals her husband’s. She is renowned for knowing her own mind with a thick skin in contrast to her stylish looks. Clegg definitely seeks her advice and pillow talk in this household is likely to be highly political.
- (-) Caroline Pidgeon
Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the London Assembly
Caroline Pidgeon is hugely popular among London LibDems thanks to her record of local campaigning around the capital. She has repeatedly refused blandishments from all levels of the party to stand for London Mayor, instead preferring to concentrate on work such as being at various times Vice-Chair and Chair of the Assembly’s Transport committee. Previously a local councillor for twelve years in Southwark, she stood for Parliament in 2010.
- (NEW) Stephen Gilbert
PPS to Ed Davey and MP for St Austell & Newquay
Stephen Gilbert was elected to Parliament in 2010; he was instantly marked out for advancement when appointed as one of the internal Liberal Democrat whips. Despite helping to lead the pasty tax rebellion after the post-budget fallout, Gilbert was appointed as the PPS to the Energy and Climate Change Secretary in the reshuffle. He revealed earlier this year that he had formed a friendship with his namesake in Downing Street, as they often have to forward each other’s mail to one another.