The top ten: Most interesting politicians
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 09 February 2014
I forgot to specify that I meant "British" and "active", so I am afraid I had to rule out some fine nominations. John Stonehouse, the Czech spy and Labour MP for Walsall North who disappeared to Australia in 1974 having staged his own death, suggested by Arieh Kovler, would have been a candidate. We'll do former politicians another day.
1. Ed Balls Quad-core intellectual processor who was Gordon Brown's spare brain capacity for 16 years; a better economist than the Chancellor.
2. Andrew Adonis With academies and HS2 (even if it never happens), he has achieved more than all but a handful of elected ministers. Now he wants to be mayor of London.
3. David Cameron Too easily dismissed as a privileged smoothie, he is an instinctive politician and fitfully ambitious thinker.
4. Stella Creasy Talks so fast and is so busy on Twitter it's easy to overlook how deeply she is steeped in political and psychological theory and Labour history.
5. Michael Gove Once a fierce Thatcherite, his conversion to advocate of comprehensive excellence for poor pupils is a lasting Blairite gain.
6. David Laws The only Lib Dem on the list. The job in the City pre-politics lends some depth.
7. Boris Johnson The combination buffoon and polymath is sufficiently dazzling to obscure a thin record as London mayor.
8. Grant Shapps It's unusual to have a front-rank politician who has traded under an assumed name (writing books such as How to Bounce Back from Recession under the pseudonym Michael Green).
9. Nicola Sturgeon After long being seen as an extra in Alex Salmond's film, turned out to have a mind of her own: insisted on a simple Yes-No referendum on Scottish independence.
10. Anna Soubry Deserves our lasting gratitude for banning civil-service jargon as health minister.
Next week: Words that used to mean the opposite (such as egregious, humbled)
Coming soon: Mixed metaphors. Send your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to firstname.lastname@example.org
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