Mandelson named ‘undisputed alpha male’ of Westminster

Author: By Joe Churcher, Press Association

The Business Secretary, whose surprise comeback earned him the Best Newcomer
prize in last year’s Threadneedle/Spectator contest, was this time named
Politician of the Year.

Judges said that the peer, considered by many to be the most influential man
in Government, had “consolidated his already powerful position” with his
handling of economic and political crises.

Another of Gordon Brown’s lieutenants, Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman,
was named Parliamentarian of the Year – a rare accolade for any minister let
alone a Leader of the Commons.

She was praised not only for taking on and, in the judges’ view, beating
William Hague while standing in at Prime Minister’s question time but for
steering equality laws through the House.

The last Government figure to take the award was the then Prime Minister Tony
Blair in 2002 – months before controversially securing MPs’ support for the
war in Iraq.

For the second year the “newcomer” award went to a familiar face in Tory
former chancellor Ken Clarke, brought back to the shadow cabinet by David
Cameron in January to take on Lord Mandelson.

Attacking the Prime Minister earned two politicians awards.

Tory MEP Daniel Hannan’s vituperative assault on Mr Brown in the European
Parliament, which became a global internet hit, was named Speech of the Year
while James Purnell’s dramatic call as he quit the Cabinet for the PM to
“stand aside” secured him Resignation of the Year from among a larger than
usual field of candidates.

Remaining in the Cabinet can also help sway the judges, it seems, with
Chancellor Alistair Darling’s – tipped for the axe in the last reshuffle –
picking up the Survivor of the Year title.

He was praised for “keeping not just his job, but his reputation, at a time
when all around him were losing theirs”.

Other awards went to Joanna Lumley and the Gurkhas, Campaigners of the Year
for securing settlement rights for the Nepalese ex-troops, and Tory MP
Douglas Carswell, who started the open campaign that led to Michael Martin’s
resignation as Speaker.

Spectator editor Fraser Nelson said: “Alistair Darling has kept not just his
job but his reputation at a time when all around him were losing theirs.

“Lord Mandelson has, we hate to admit, reigned supreme this year, appearing to
run the entire government single-handedly.

“And, while we at The Spectator are not the most enthusiastic supporters of
Harriet Harman’s agenda, not even our own Rod Liddle could deny that she has
powerfully advanced this agenda – not least in the form of the Equality
Bill. The girl done good.”

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