Who'll be the person (or particle) of 2012?
Time magazine has unveiled its longlist for 'person of the year', with Mo, Malala, Psy and Pussy Riot, as well as Higgs boson, up for the title. Simon Usborne eyes the prize
The dictator, the president, the runner, the particle or the robot? It may well be none of the above –Time magazine's "person" (non-people have triumphed twice) of the year can be fiendishly hard to call and this year's 40-strong long-list offers no indisputable candidate.
The final cover star should be the person or idea that "for better or worse, has most influenced events in the preceding year". And so, this year we have Barack Obama alongside Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, as well the Higgs boson particle, the Mars rover and "undocumented immigrants". Like all lists, long or short, Time's is often controversial. The magazine used to pick baddies (Stalin and Hitler among them) but after a US backlash in 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini was named, it has been accused of bottling tricky choices. Osama bin Laden was surely the obvious name in 2001, but New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was the more patriotic face.
There has been an inevitable American bias (the US has 49 out of 89 names). This year's list offers only two British contenders: Mo Farah and E L James, the Fifty Shades of Grey author (surely Bradley Wiggins deserved a spot or, if baddies could feature, Jimmy Savile?) Ultimately Time's editors will pick a "winner" in mid-December, but anyone may influence them on the magazine's website by saying "definitely" or "no way" to candidates. At the time of writing, Egypt's power-grabbing new President, Mohamed Morsi, topped both columns, while Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani activist who survived a Taliban assassination attempt last month, was one of the most popular choices, with more than 70 per cent of votes for her in the "definitely" column.
Charles Lindbergh, the pioneering pilot, was the first Man of the Year, in 1927. It wasn't until 1999 that "Man" became "Person". Ironically, the only outright female names on the cover featured before then. There were four, including Wallis Simpson (1936) and Queen Elizabeth II (1952).
Non-people were The Computer (1982) and the Endangered Earth (1988), while groups included Baby Boomers (1966), You (internet users, 2006) and, last year, The Protester.
There have been several double winners, including Winston Churchill, the only other outright British person to be honoured, and Bill Clinton. One man has done it three times: Franklin D Roosevelt. Obama trails behind with one nod, in 2008, and thus becomes our tip. But I'm voting for Mo.
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: It is only rape if the victim is conscious
- 5 Nigerian witch-finder Helen Ukpabio threatens legal action against human rights organisations
Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
Victoria Justice on naked photo leak: 'Let me nip this in the bud right now – pun intended'
Ariana Grande nude photos leak: Pictures are completely fake, say representatives
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
Kate Upton nude photos leak: Model's spokespeople 'looking into' authenticity of indecent images
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...
Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...
£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...