Our Man and Woman of the Year ... so who's the Villain?

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The Independent Online
Two happy faces reflect on their success in 1997, writes Paul Routledge. Readers of the Independent on Sunday have voted Tony Blair Man of the Year, and Mo Mowlam, the Northern Ireland Secretary, as Woman of the Year. They were easy winners in a poll that also named disgraced ex-Tory minister, Jonathan Aitken, as Villain of the Year.

The full rankings of the 3,300-plus votes cast - which also put the Prime Minister at number five in the ranking of villains - appear inside.

The Prime Minister, pictured by the IoS congratulating his Ulster peacemaker by the Christmas tree inside No 10 Downing Street, said he was "delighted and surprised" to be the choice of voters twice in one year. His wife Cherie came third in the popularity stakes for women.

Mr Blair said his eight months as the first Labour premier for 18 years have been "immensely busy and exhilarating". He added: "We have achieved a lot in eight months, but we have got a lot more to do next year."

Dr Mowlam, who started the year coping with treatment for a benign tumour, from which she has nowrecovered, said: "I'm pleased, very pleased." And with a twinkle in her eye that belies her tough image in working to bring peace in Ulster, she added: "My mum will be pleased."

Dr Mowlam went on: "But I want to share [Woman of the Year] with the people of Northern Ireland, and the leaders of all the parties who have shown such courage, because that's why we have got as far as we have. Next year, I hope the people of Northern Ireland can win it collectively as we move into an accommodation for peace."

Martin Bell, the former BBC war correspondent who stood as an independent candidate to defeat the disgraced Tory MP Neil Hamilton, came second in Man of the Year. Mr Hamilton, in turn, was runner-up for Villain. Clare Short, Minister for International Development, came second in Woman of the Year, followed by Cherie Blair and the Queen. Dolly the Sheep took sixth place.

Full results, pages 18 and 19

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