How political hacks really rate MPs

Journalists in the Westminster lobby have been asked by Sky News to rank politicians in the style of the card game 'Top Trumps' for Labour's conference in Manchester this week. Ian Burrell separates the trumps from the chumps
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Who are really the most media-friendly MPs? Who could hold the publishing industry to ransom for their memoirs? And who gets Googled the most?

The most sought-after political memoirs, in the eyes of some of the lobby's most seasoned observers, are those of David Cameron, which have been given an estimated value of £2.4m. That's a lot more than for Gordon Brown, who can reckon on earning £1.8m. The only other current politician with an autobiography of comparable value is Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, whose recollections have an estimated worth of £1.5m. Meanwhile, the memoirs of shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve are valued at a mere £20,000, which hardly seems worth the effort.

As for the Google test well, no surprise really that it's the (at time of writing) Prime Minister, Mr Brown, with 7.47 million hits (up to the end of July). Cameron doesn't even come close with a relatively feeble 1.05 million hits, less than Jack Straw (1.33 million) but a great deal more than Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas who hasn't exactly set the net alight, mustering only 15,800 hits.

These stats will be being soaked up today at the Labour party conference in Manchester as delegates are given sets of the card game "Politico Top Trumps", featuring 30 of Britain's best-known political figures. Of all the categories, none will attract more interest than the total expenses claimed during 2006-2007.

Though the "King of Scotland", Alex Salmond, comes out as top trump, reimbursing himself to the tune of £166,814, it is the husband-and-wife team of Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper whose diligence in claiming back what is rightfully theirs really catches the eye. While Yvette's pile of expense receipts totted up to the sum of £150,658, Ed worked even harder in the cause and had need of reclaiming a hefty £157,076. Some top expenses-claimers are produced here in their Top Trumps glory.

The scores on the trump cards were compiled by a panel of political journalists that included Sky News's political editor Adam Boulton and his counterpart on The Sun, George Pascoe-Watson, who incidentally is the other half of Sky News presenter Kay Burley. Also on the panel were Fraser Nelson of The Spectator, Sam Coates of The Times, Michael White of The Guardian and Julia Hartley-Brewer of the Sunday Express. Boulton admits that a similar experiment at last year's conference season, using different categories, had irked some MPs and that he had received "the odd complaint from those unhappy with their scores".

One category this year is "Prospects", and predictably Cameron is the politico "most likely to", with a score of 9. Feel sympathy for bottom trump, Michael Martin. Though the Speaker of the House of Commons comes out best for expenses (just £82,106, despite his recently being trashed in the press for using taxpayer money to refurbish his house), his prospects are rated at a dismal 1. Ouch!

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