By Matthew Barrett
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Below are the winners of the different categories of the Spectator's Parliamentarian of the Year awards, which were held this afternoon.
- Newcomer of the Year – Andrea Leadsom MP (Con)
- Backbencher of the Year – Alistair Darling MP (Lab)
- Campaigner of the Year – Andy Burnham MP (Lab)
- Inquisitor of the Year – Margaret Hodge MP (Lab)
- Speech of the Year – Charles Walker MP (Con) & Kevan Jones MP (Lab)
- Resignation of the Year – Lord Hill of Oareford (Con)
- Apology of the Year – Nick Clegg MP (Lib Dem)
- Resurrection of the Year – Sir George Young MP (Con)
- Minister to Watch – Elizabeth Truss MP (Con)
- Double Act of the Year – Edward Davey MP (Lib Dem) & John Hayes MP (Con)
- Peer of the Year – Rt Revd Justin Welby
- Minister of the Year – Theresa May MP (Con)
- Parliamentarian of the Year – Jesse Norman MP (Con)
- Politician of the Year – Boris Johnson (Con)
Three names especially strike me: Jesse Norman, Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May.
Jesse Norman deserves relentless praise for his defence of our constitution against the offensive, mandate-lacking desire of some in the Coalition to see the House of Lords destroyed. But Mr Norman is far from being a mere skilled rebel. He is a serious economic and philosophical thinker, and a remarkable talent on the backbenches. His award is richly deserved.
Andrea Leadsom is another deserving winner. While Downing Street maintains a belief that renegotiation with and reform of the European institutions is necessary – and possible – Andrea Leadsom and her Fresh Start partners, George Eustice and Chris Heaton-Harris, are in the process of outlining exactly which areas of policy Britain should take back from Brussels, in order to influence the next Conservative manifesto. This is one of the best examples of a group of MPs taking advantage of their ability as backbenchers to formulate policy, and attempt to influence this, and future governments, from the outside. Again, Leadsom is also a serious economic voice, having entered Parliament from the world of banking.
Finally, Theresa May was awarded Minister of the Year for her decision not to extradite Gary McKinnon to the United States. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the decision, it made her many new fans, and confirmed her status as a big-hitter in the Coalition era. The post of Home Secretary has been such a hazardous one over the last few decades that to have made it halfway through a parliamentary term is to be considered quite an achievement. Indeed, if she were to serve the full five years, she would be the longest-serving Home Secretary since Rab Butler. But there are no question marks over Mrs May, and unlike an unsettlingly long list of her predecessors, she is not considered an accident waiting to happen: quite the opposite, she appears to have mastered her brief and looks like a safe pair of hands.