As the year draws to a close, most (at least in liberal circles) would agree that 2016 has provided us with far more political villains than it has heroes, so much so that many will look back in years to come at a year engulfed in thick black cloud. However, through much of the darkness, there have been several glimmers of light, and so below I’ve compiled my list of political heroes for 2016, covering those whose resistance continues to give me some hope, or in some cases those who simply provided a brief moment of light relief.
1 ) Tim Farron
Originally not on the list, Tim Farron squeezed in at the last moment when only yesterday he was awarded with the prestigious title of “Remoaner of the Year” by Leave.EU, thus sending him sky rocketing to number one. As much as his opposite numbers make it appear so, successfully doing ones job does not automatically make one a hero, hence the late inclusion, however particular moments of note for Farron this year include his stance of refugees (indeed, what bought me to the party), and his passionate Autumn Conference closing speech which I may or may not have rewatched several times since.
2) Nick Clegg
No-one personifies the Lib Dem fightback this year quite like Nick Clegg. He began the year trying to keep a low profile having been (wrongly) tarnished by the Coalition and the resulting General Election result, indeed he must at times have considered taking a similar path to that now trodden by David Cameron. However ever since the disastrous referendum result in June he has risen from the ashes to become one of, if not the most important MP on the Brexit issue, with his knowledge of the EU and it’s institutions second to none.
3) Norman Lamb
The third and final Lib Dem MP on this years list, Norman Lamb’s appearance is mostly if not entirely down to his continued one-man crusade in the name of mental health. As the mental health crisis in the UK spirals further and further out of control, the Lib Dems can be proud that their man is front and centre in trying to ease the suffering of so many. Another Norman Lamb highlight this year has been his robust use of social media to defend his position on any vote to trigger Article 50, which, considering it’s more or less the same as that of the next name on this list, who is a darling of the Remainers, it’s hard to understand why he gets so much stick for.
4) Anna Soubry
At the beginning of the year Anna Soubry was a lesser-known Conservative minister whose views more or less aligned with those held by her government, 12 months on her party treats her as a renegade. Following the referendum result, as so many of her fellow Conservative MPs seem to have all but forgotten the cause that they passionately campaigned for, Soubry continues to fight in the name of the 48% who voted with her, which, in a political climate left so hostile by the events of the 23rd of June, is courageous and brave, and worthy of the upmost respect.
5) Hilary Benn
Another fine performer in the Remain campaign, Benn makes this list not only for his pro-EU credentials but also for being the most high profile MP to be sacked by Jeremy Corbyn. A constant thorn in Corbyn’s side, Benn’s defiance is made all the more glorious by Corbyn’s obvious disappointment he has not turned out more like his father. Quite frankly Benn Jnr. makes the idea of being referred to as a “Bennite” rather more palatable, and no doubt were he leader of the Labour party as opposed to his left-wing ‘comrade’, the party as whole would find itself on a much firmer footing.
6) Mark Carney
It’s perhaps of no surprise that a man whose very existence annoys Brexiteers makes my list of political heroes for 2016, even if he himself would argue he’s far from political. Being both foreign and an expert, the likes of Mark Carney have had it tough this year, however his continued instance to only deal in fact, no matter how inconvenient for the Brexit government, makes him one of 2016’s biggest if not most reluctant heroes. Here’s hoping he continues in his role for many years to come.
7) Gary Lineker
Rubbing Brexiteers up the wrong way is something of a theme in this year’s list, and Gary Lineker’s emergence as a competent political commentator as well as excellent television presenter has certainly been a highlight. Reaching areas of the Twittersphere that others could only dream of due to his alter-ego as a sports presenter, Lineker serves as a constant reminder to Brexit supporters up and down the country that they’re ugly, old fashioned view of the UK hasn’t taken over just yet.
8) John Major
There were of course many memorable moments of the EU Referendum campaign, and many could have deservedly appeared here (a special mention goes to Michael Deacon’s coverage of the ‘battle of the Thames’), however if I was to pick one individual highlight, it would be John Major’s savage attack on Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith on the Andrew Marr Show, available below.
9) Polly Mackenzie
By far the most obscure selection in this year’s list, this is all down Tim Farron’s Autumn Conference speech. As the Daily Politics’ guest for the duration of their coverage, Mackenzie’s performance up against the formidable Andrew Neil was one of the best seen all year, swatting away his questions dismissively without any of the political spin we’re now so accustomed to, see in particular the exchange on immigration in the video below from 1 hour 34 mins. This combined with more excellent work on mental health mean Mackenzie more than deserves her spot.
10) The Lib Dem Press Office
Last but by no means at all least, the razor sharp wit of the Lib Dem Press Office Twitter account has been one of the highlights of 2016 for many people both in and outside of the party. With a clear idea of what works and what doesn’t in the weird and wonderful world of social media, the press office not only bring a smile to the face, but also spread the Lib Dem message far and wide. If the next general election is fought on Twitter, the Lib Dems are in with a good chance.
Have a happy new year and a fabulous 2017, here’s to the continued Lib Dem Fightback.