Today, the Spectator hosted our 27th Parliamentarian of the Year awards at the Savoy Hotel in London in an austerity-free ceremony to give gongs (and replica Spectator covers) to those who had fought the good fight. And some who’d fought a bad one, but annoyingly well. Boris Johnson, our former editor, was handing out the gongs.
Below are the winners, and the judges’ verdict.
Newcomer of the Year: Tristram Hunt
Hunt has made quite the impression since he joined the Labour bench just over a month ago — building bridges with the ‘yummy mummies’, backing parent-led academies, while being tipped as a future party leader. As Fraser said in his speech, if Hunt changes his name to Terry, you’ll know he’s believing the hype.
Campaigner of the Year: Robert Halfon
Instead of hugging a husky, Halfon has been trying to hug a McCluskey this year; attempting to repair the relationship between the Tories and the Unions. His fuel duty campaign cost the Treasury £1 billion, as well as his campaigns for apprenticeships, free school meals for college pupils and justice for Kurdistan.
Peer of the Year: Tina Stowell
Entering politics at the age of 18, Stowell managed to use her know-how to steer gay marriage through the House of Lords with charm, persuasion, steel and apparent ease.
Backbencher the Year: Charlotte Leslie
Leslie took on the NHS establishment over the Francis Report when even the government was afraid to. She used FOI requests and every parliamentary device at her disposal to claim her scalp and showed the Tory party how it’s done.
Parliamentary Speech of the Year: Mike Freer
Freer made one of the most moving, personal and potent speeches in the house this year over equal marriage. ‘This isn’t about a tax break or legal protection’, he said. ‘This is who I love and this is who I am.’
Minister of the Year: Michael Fallon
Fallon was sent into the Department of Business to make sure Vince Cable didn’t press the nuclear button, but he has launched a war on solar subsidies while his latest success (the Royal Mail sell-off) is something even Margaret Thatcher didn’t dare attempt.
Political speech of the year: Ed Miliband
The Labour leader’s speech at conference this year was a political game-changer. Gone was the chin-stroking talk of pre-distribution, predators and producers. His simple, crude, and devastating offer to freeze energy bills threw the government into a funk it has yet to recover from.
Comeback of the year: Sir John Major
The former Prime Minister bowled a googly at Westminster – and David Cameron – at a press lunch just two weeks ago, with his call for a windfall tax on energy firms. The grey man is back, and he’s bought headline-making sound bites with him.
Insurgent of the year: Nigel Farage
Despite the fact that his only Westminster seat is in the Westminster Arms, Farage has remained a universal irritant — menacing the Tories in the south, Labour in the north, the Liberal Democrats in the south west and everyone in Brussels. And still, no one has figured out how to fight him.
Politician of the year: Theresa May
May’s record as Home Secretary is unquestionable: crime down, immigration down, the Home Office budget down…and Yvette Cooper’s leadership ambitions down. She’s now the bookmakers’ favourite to be the next Tory leader.
Parliamentarians of the Year: the glorious 15
The first time this award has not gone to a single person. Our Parliamentarians of 2013 are those who went through the ‘no’ lobby to prove that our ancient tradition of press freedom is not abolished without a fight:
- Richard Bacon
- Christopher Chope
- Tracey Crouch (Con)
- Nick de Bois
- Philip Davies
- Richard Drax
- Nigel Mills
- Andrew Percy
- Mark Reckless
- John Redwood
- Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Andrew Turner
- Martin Vickers
- Charles Walker
- Sarah Wollaston
And here’s acceptance speeches from Charles Walker and Tracey Crouch:-