Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Top 50 Most Influential Liberal Democrats

As usual this, year Brian Brivati and I have been tasked by the Daily Telegraph with compiling this year's lists of top LibDems, people on the right and people on the left. Today the Telegraph published our list of the Top 50 Liberal Democrats, which we compiled with the expert advice of some leading LibDems including an MP, a blogger, a party insider and two pundits...

1 2 Nick Clegg
2 5 Danny Alexander
3 3 Chris Huhne
4 1 Vincent Cable
5 27 Jonathan Oates
6 23 Simon Hughes
7 12 Polly Mackenzie
8 9 Tom McNally
9 6 David Laws
10 25 Steve Webb
11 4 Chris Fox
12 10 Paddy Ashdown
13 - Michael Moore
14 8 John Sharkey
15 Alastair Carmichael
16 13 Tavish Scott
17 21 Lynne Featherstone
18 26 Norman Lamb
19 31 Alison Suttie
20 7 Baroness Scott
21 - Lord Alderdyce
22 - Lena Pietsch
23 11 Lord Oakeshott
24 14 Evan Harris
25 15 Shirley Williams
26 - Richard Reeves
27 18 Duncan Brack
28 - Andrew Stunnell
29 33 Richard Kemp
30 22 Lord Shutt
31 20 Paul Burstow
32 100 Nick Harvey
33 - David Heath
34 - Tim Farron
35 49 Fiona Hall
36 35 Ed Davey
37 17 Lord Lester
38 24 Norman Baker
39 30 Sarah Teather
40 42 Mark Pack
41 29 Lord Carlile
42 75 Jim Wallace
43 51 Jeremy Browne
44 36 Ming Campbell
45 - Julia Goldsworthy
46 - Olly Grender
47 - Sean Kemp
48 - Colin Firth
49 - Miriam Gonzales-Durrantes
50 38 Kirsty Williams

The biographies for 26-1 are HERE and 50-26 HERE.

Here's the article Brian Brivati and I wrote for the Telegraph explaining the choices...

This year has forced a rethink of what it means to be a Liberal Democrat. As the anonymous panel met to compile the list, there was a sense in which that crisis of identity was still being played out. Not since the party was welded together from what was left of David Owen’s ego and David Steel’s “preparation for government” pipe dreams, have the joints between the activists and the power-seekers been more exposed.

The impact of government sits over the Liberal Democrat list as the defining moments of the last year are picked over. The two centres of power – government and party - pulled the discussion in different directions.

As in the debate about the formation of the coalition itself, it was power which won out over protest. The top ten clearly shows the impact of power: the leader is now number one, overtaking Vince Cable for the top spot.

He seized his moment and is now living through the consequences for himself and for his party. It is still too early to say if the prize was worth the sacrifice but it is safe to say the Liberal Democrats and British politics will never be the same again.

Nick Clegg, the Cleggster as some Liberal Democrats call him, is an unfolding psycho drama of compelling fascination. The last time a left of centre party entered a coalition with the Conservatives was in 1931. Many of those then Labour politicians who became National Labour seemed to become more like Tories than their Tory colleagues.

A Liberal Democrat critic of the coalition has compared it privately to the final scenes of George Orwell’s Animal Farm when the Pigs become interchangeable with the humans! Certainly while watching Clegg balance party and government, deal with sharp declines in his popularity and, a new experience for most Liberal Democrats, be actually hated for the decisions he is part of, it is hard not to have been impressed by the strength of Clegg’s character over the last year. What everyone in the Westminster village wants to know is for how long he can keep it up?

Clegg is supported by many backroom figures who suddenly find themselves at the centre of power. Two women stand out in this group: the leader’s brain, Polly Mackenzie (up 5 to 12) and his mouth piece, Lena Pietsch (new in at 22). Clegg and Pietsch talk to each other in German when they don’t want others to understand. These two sit on top of the new breed of players that government has taken to the top of the party rankings: the special advisers. The star here is Richard Reeves. He has managed the transition from contributing to discussions on constitutional reform inside Brown’s Number Ten, to working as a special adviser for the coalition with the complete ease of the truly ambitious power seeker.

But the highest new entry reflects the transformation that comes when the power seekers win out. The quiet and serious backbencher Michael Moore emerges as a safe pair of hands as Secretary of State for Scotland at number 13: and an effective new Ministerial career starts.

Vince Cable slips, not because of his position on cuts, he was an early and keen cutter, but because others have forced their way ahead of him. Some have been very lucky indeed. Danny Alexander was on the way up, a key player internally he has emerged as the number two man of the Liberal Democratic part of the government and is earning grudging respect from his Conservative counterparts. The change in perception of Alexander began during the coalition talks. He was the architect of the coalition and has gone from “nice guy but...” to the key player in the politics of cuts. This could cause him trouble down the road as he navigates between loyalty to his party boss Clegg and his Ministerial partner Osborne. His association with the exercise of power and what it might do to his political position and personality, is the second most fascinating to watch.

Luck has also played its part in the resistible rise of Chris Huhne. He has not made it easy for himself or for his leader but in the curious relationship between the media, politics and the sex lives of politicians, he somehow survived the changes in his private life to stubbornly hold onto his top three position.

Moore and Huhne’s luck was made in part by the bad luck of David Laws. Laws trusted that somehow the media spotlight would not illuminate his private life. He is down but he is by no means out. The Tories still love him, the party still need him and when the chance comes he will return to office.

Between the activist wing and the power seekers, the party grandees sit. Many have slipped back. Those who were lukewarm on the coalition like Paddy Ashdown and Ming Campbell have suffered as a consequence. Others who have actual experience of office might have been expected to rise but have gone rather quiet – like Shirley Williams.

Among the left, fates have been different. Simon Hughes sits amid the top ten like an unexploded bomb. There is no question that he will go off. The question is when and with what impact.

Tim Farron, a darling of conference and the activists, enters the top fifty for the first time because of his potential to rock the boat. But in general this is not the hour of the activist or the left. Much might change this week and in the year to come. But for the year that was and for the power that the Liberal Democrats now hold, the power seekers have won the day and topped the list.


Obnoxio The Clown said...

Who are any of these people? Jeez.

Anonymous said...

You found 50!

Unknown said...

Charles Kennedy?

Unknown said...

Charles Kennedy, has he already gone to Labour!

Tapestry said...

Written by a man who understands what it is like to be a Liberal Democrat. In fact, well written.

No mention of Europe?

That might become a wobbler at some point.

Anonymous said...

Doesnt say much for how the Welsh Lib Dems are seen
Kirsty Williams came 50 after ick Cleggs wife

HampsteadOwl said...

Wot no Charlie Kennedy?

No expert I on Lib Dem politics, but I can't see it that an ex-MP of dubious achievement - Evan Harris - makes it in half way up, but an ex-leader who is still also in the House is nowhere

Anonymous said...

Its amazing how insignificant these people are given the positions they hold.

Rebel Saint said...

That's possibly the most boring blog post ever. What else have we got to look forward too...

Top 50 civil servants
Top 50 accountants
Top 50 parish councillors
Top 50 left handed politicians

Give us a break now Iain.

Roger Thornhill said...

If Vince Cable is 4th and judging by the SocDem/Fabian wibble he is blurting out today...

wv asibum IKYN