Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Top 100 Left Wingers 2010

Today, the Daily Telegraph publishes our 2010 list of the 100 most influential left wingers in the country.


And this is the
accompanying article written by Brian Brivati and myself...

Ed Miliband’s narrow victory propels him to the top of the list but even if he had lost, he would have transformed his personal position in the party and altered the political dynamic of the internal party debate. His blessing is now necessary for the shape of the party to come.

He largely won the argument on the election and on the need for a reconnection with Labour's core vote and each time a New Labour big gun came out to knock him, his vote went up. He has had the best post election period.

Harriet Harman must be kicking herself for not running for the leadership in what turned out to be a more open race than many expected. She has been competent if unexciting as leader and could conceivably have come through the middle of the Miliband brothers.

As it is, the question marks over David Miliband's ability to win a general election and resentment at the Blairites' presumption that their candidate should win, combined with a nagging doubt as to if David can do human or not.

Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott have shown they both can, even Ed Balls seemed to discover the ability to appear human at some of the hustings. Abbott is back as a serious (ish) political figure if she wants to stay. She comes into the list at 36 but we may not see her again next year if TV beckons.

The irony of the Labour leadership election, reflected in these lists, is that David Miliband is the only candidate not to have markedly improved his position and standing in the party. Beyond the runners and riders, the Labour list becomes so much calmer and simpler now that power is gone.

Few general elections have shifted the continental plates of political influence as much as the 2010 election. The expenses election transformed the complexion and membership of the House of Commons. The generations shifted as old-New Labour went out and Next-new(ish) Labour came in.

This was no ordinary change of government election. Labour had been in power for so long that some people on this list have only really known active politics while Labour was on the rise or in government. There is a huge psychological adjustment taking place. Some are coping with it better than others.

In parallel the new political generation is taking hold of the party apparatus and the search for new political ideas has pitched key campaigners up the order. The big unions still matter but in a way they have not yet flexed their muscles against the Coalition sufficiently to have redefined the left away from government and towards protest. That will come in the next year or so, for now, the flotsam and jetsam of the New Labour "Project" fight over the shape of the future and some of the stars of that future emerge.

The moths attracted by office have fallen away or in some cases, like former Demos director Richard Reeves, fluttered over to the Coalition lists; the committed remain and pick over the debris. And so many busted flushes....Mandelson has gone from number 1 to number 45 and falling. Politics without Mandy. This is a difficult concept for a political anorak to grasp. But then imagine how he feels. It remains to see if he has a fourth and a fifth act.

Brown's book will be much more substantial but he does not hold the field in the way that Thatcher and Blair did on personality and policy after they fell from power. He will emerge in a big global job, not quite father of thenation, but a world statesman and finally in a role that uses his intellect but does not need his personality. Jack Straw is down from 6 to 43 and among all the former Ministers, he seems to happiest about it. Straw actually seems to like being a backbench MP and I would bet on him being father of the House one day.

The biggest comeback is for Stephen Twigg. A key part of David Miliband's campaign and back in at 24 – he will still do well under Ed. Lower down the food chain, the SPADs and Brownite enforcers like Dan Cory and Wilf Stevenson are gone. The apparatchiks in the great struggle between Brown and Blair, like Neal Lawson of Compass (down to 86) and Jessica Aseto of Progress (out of the top 100), are down. Many of these will be back in the future. Some have already hitched their fate to a rising star or a passing Miliband.

The future is taking shape, though it was noticeable that in the panel discussion this year, while there was a struggle to agree on the top twenty, there were many candidates for lower down the order. The biggest climb is for Sadiq Khan, a star of the leadership election and destined for the front bench. In opposition the policy debate in the party is going to count for much more than it did in government.

Martin Bright has made waves with his New Deal for the Mind and comes in at 85. Fiona Miller's campaigning on schools sees her re-enter the list at 81. Will Straw in at 30 for his top ranked blog, Left Foot Forward. Jason Cowley is in at 50 for taking the Statesman from irrelevant to readable again and Mehdi Hasan in at 26 for being the bits that are readable and doing a reasonable impression of a young Tariq Ali on TV.

The new crop of MPs also has some stars of the future who are worth watching. Rachel Reeves comes in at 73, Stella Creasey at 90, Kate Green at 97 and Tristram Hunt (proving that the People's Party is not prejudiced against public school educated intellectuals) comes in 100.

Usually when the Labour Party lose office they swing to the left. It happened in 1931, 1951, 1970, and 1979. This list does not feel like a more left wing list than previous years. This might be because these labels are now meaningless. What has happened is a shift in generations and the beginning of the clearing out of the old guard who have dominated Party and politics for the last twenty years. New Labour is definitively over, new generation Labour is taking shape.


Paddy Briggs said...

Excellent, balanced and fair analysis Iain. I'm still a bit concerned about the whole concept of Left and Right wing in modern politics. Some issues seem to me to have little to do with the traditional (UK )Socialist/Liberal split. Why is Climate change seen as somethiing that Lefites believe in but rightists don't, for example? So what a "Left Winger" is I'm really not sure. Bit like football - is Gareth Bale a left winger?!?

Bill Quango MP said...

New Labour- The Next Generation..

Suitably apt for the Star Star trek leader.

Bit of a gift for private eye.

Jim said...

"As it is, the question marks over David Miliband's ability to win a general election and resentment at the Blairites' presumption that their candidate should win, combined with a nagging doubt as to if David can do human or not."

Um, Iain, I thought your new minion was supposed to have proof-reading among her/his duties...

Anonymous said...

Abbott has school fees to pay for - she cannot be a pundit if the is in the shadow cabinet.

'New Labour - The Next Generation.
Elections - the final embarrassment. These are the voyages of the leader ship Miliband.
Its 5 year mission to explore unaffordable new policies.
To seek new votes new benefit claimants. To dissemble boldly where no politician has dissembled before'

Ian M said...

I see that Baroness Ashton is No 2 on the List

Can someone tell me why the Coalition should not sack her as the British reprentative to the EU(SSR) Commission or failing that make her position completely untenable by making it clear that we have no confidence in her>

Anonymous said...

David prepared to start a 1000 year New Labour Reich.

I am not sure we have decided yet what the Labour party are going to do under the alternative management. Decisions are not easy.....