Slugger Awards: Politician of the Year…

This is the last category to be announced and comprises all categories of politician in Northern Ireland, including Westminster MPs and MEPs. But it also includes parliamentarians sitting in both the UK and Irish upper houses, who increasingly are being called upon to play significant roles both inside and outside government.

Who represents us well? Who articulate expresses their a strand of opinion, whether or not you agree with it? Who do you admire? Or, who simply does their job better than anyone else in this category? Who’s unsung story of untold hours put in on obscure committee deserves a wider audience?With your nominations, please try to include:

1. A brief account of the qualities your candidate has brought to the job.
2. What s/he has achieved in the last 12 months.
3. What you believe are the critical qualities required by an MP/MEP/Peer/Senator.

Please make your nominations below. Be as expansive as you wish, so we can make the best pitch possible to both the reader and judges panels who may not be as familiar as you with your favoured candidate.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    It has to be Jim Allister. Whilst all other parties stagnated (SF, UUP) or declined (DUP, SDLP), the TUV went from a standing start to almost snatching a Euro seat.

    Intelligent and an excellent communicator he has grown the niche anti-agreement market in the space left by the DUP to now present a serious challenge to the DUP in their own fundamentalist backyards.

    He keeps his message simple, and uses the very words of his former allies in the DUP against them as he argues on principle without the worry of having to compromise his views as a result of being in power.

    He may have lost his Euro seat but he surely now has the most vital of political commodities – momentum – as he attempts to undo the political and peace strategy that have grown out of the GFA.

  • Johnny B Good

    Reg Empey

    For having the courage where others haven’t in trying to break the stale, unproductive, zero-sum political discourse of the past.

    Succeeding in breeding a better politics for Northern Ireland will of course be some challenge. The Back Woods Men who have dominated the stage for so long don’t like it and will resist. But someone has to try and get them to make way…

    1. Qualities brought to the job

    Courage and Foresight. Effecting change is rarely the easy political option.

    Achieved in the past 12 months

    The creation of a new electoral force, proved to be potent at the European elections.

    Critical qualities required by a politician

    Courage and willingness to forge one’s own path.

    Only dead fish go with the flow.

  • Expenses111

    Jim Allister.

    1. Qualities brought to the job

    Jim has brought extreme courage to tackle the fascist coalition.

    Achieved in the past 12 months

    Within 18 months of setting up a new party he managed to deny the DUP the top of the European poll and also receiving 66,000 voters.

    Critical qualities required by a politician.

    Jim has what it takes to stand up to a Government whch includes convicted criminals.

    Congratulations to him

  • Downpatrick TUV

    There can only be 1 winner – Jim Allister

    1. Qualities brought to the job

    Jim has brought a life time of courage to the job by giving people who were brought into government on a lie a voice.

    Achieved in the past 12 months

    66,000 first preference votes. Also managing to put enough pressure on DUP to stop the devolution of P&J.

    Critical qualities required by a politician.

    Jim has always been honest with the electorate. he is saying that if he is elected he will not sit in with Sinn Fein. More than the DUP ever did.

  • martin

    Jim Allister

    From a standing start to 30% of unionist vote.

    Simple, clear, consice message from an analytical background

  • jake the snake

    I think the events of this week confirm Jim Allister as my choice. Take the full-time reserve issue as one example, but he constantly does more than the whole of the UUP, SF or any of the parties to rattle the DUP and keep them running in circles. I’m sure a lot of people thought we’d hear less of Jim since June, but he’s continually bringing the fight to the DUPs.

    I remember after the last TUV Conference the Politics Show reporting they thought he might get up to 4 seats in any Assembly elections. After June the media were saying 12 – 15: that shows how far the TUV have come this year. And he has a genuine chance of doing the once unthinkable and beating a Paisley in North Antrim.

    He doesn’t have a particularly sexy message to sell, but no-one can doubt his effectiveness at delivering it.

  • DC

    Isn’t local democracy wonderful?

    Thankfully we have the unelected EU to go over the heads of these kind of people.

  • maeglin

    Arlene Foster – without a doubt in my mind the best performing, consistently capable, not-ball-dropping Minister in the Executive. She gains wide support from a range of people and backgrounds. She balances worklife and family life in a way which is beyond comprehension to most and does it all with a cheerful dry sarcasm. Deals well with whatever is thrown at her. Her strategically well placed trips to the likes of India are already paying good dividends. A genuine star of NI politics

  • Driftwood

    David Cameron

    The only NI party leader with Thoroughbred status in a field of carthorses.

    A Class apart.

  • skullion

    Nelson MacCausland for bringing the Gaa to a wider audience.Also an honourable mention for Basil McCrea.I might not agree with what he says but i can certainly understand what he says.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    skullion,

    just to stray off topic – slightly – the UUP Alan Mc Farland is also a very good communicator based on his contribution in the Stormo debate on the transfer of Police – it almost sounded like a proper parliamentary debating chamber with the DUP and SF lined up against the SDLP and the UUP.

    Mick,

    can I suggest a new category of political quip of the year by a politician to be included next time out?

  • Brit

    “Thankfully we have the unelected EU to go over the heads of these kind of people.”

    1. Vote UKIP etc if you want to leave the EU

    2. the European Parliament is, of course, elected.

    3. The vast majority of EU derived law was supported, negotiated and agreed to by the UK / RoI governments.

  • Patrick Carson

    Up and coming politician of the year;

    Simon Hamilton MLA.

    Simon made last year’s short list and should win this year as he has kept up his great work and his promotion from the back benches to Chair of the Social Development Committee shows that he is a rising star in the DUP.
    His solid constituency work is matched by his interest in particular issues, not least of all parking meters.
    He is an articulate Chairman and also sits on the DF&P Committee as well as taking on his new chair rôle.
    He shows a real interest in the Assembly business which is what MLA’s should really be about.
    So, a good all rounder as an MLA and definitely an up and coming politician.

    Politician of the year;

    Arelene Foster MLA.

    Because of the extra responsibility as a Minister, a job she is doing very well despite inheriting the economic portfolio as the capitalist system convulsed with such dire consequences for so many. As politics are always local she keeps her eye on Fermanagh but also takes her party responsibilities seriously, defending her leader and party eloquently on the issue of devolution of policing and justice. A superb minister who represents NI very well abroad and also keeps Fermanagh on the map (despite what Winston Churchill said of it).

    Committee Chair of the year;

    DFP Chair (now retired) Mitchell McLaughlin.

    Many a person could learn from his chairing of that particularly tough committee. He was fair, polite, welcoming and tough as needed. Even his arch enemies have complimented him and that takes a lot in NI politics.

    MLA of the year;

    John O’Dowd Upper Bann.

    Even for a tall man he carries a heavy load as MLA. As a jobbing MLA he has to defend SF’s interests on the Education Committee (is this the worst job in politics?).
    He has also played a key rôle in the first debate on the devolution of policing and justice and can move from being SF’s rottweiler in the chamber to taking tough stands in Upper Bann about policing matters on the ground.

    Blogger of the year;

    Alan in Belfast.
    Provides by far the best description of the very details of politics.
    He shows a real interest in politics from interviewing MLA’s to fighting with his local council and keeping up to date with the hole in Cromac Street.
    The photo of the North Antrim tallies, from the European election count, is a political classic.

  • anon

    Sammy Wilson

    It takes a special kind of politician to get a promotion through going against party policy and failing to implement any legislation in last role. All whilst holding down 3 arguably 4 jobs. Never a dull moment when Sammys around

  • Anonynon

    I see that Martin McGuinness was nominated in the MLA of the year category, but I’d argue that he’s a very strong candidate for ‘politician of the year’ instead.

    Leaving aside the issues behind it, his response to the Masserene barracks killings was very astute and surefooted. He did something that most commentators assumed that he wouldn’t do, and I think it was plain to see that a lot of his colleagues thought he had dropped a clanger.

    He didn’t. It was a very astute piece of judgement. It moved Sinn Fein into a new place while at the same time as enhancing McGuinness’ reputation.

    Otherwise, McGuinness has managed to remain largely unscathed in a year that has been a bit of a nightmare for almost every other frontline politician. Speak it softly, but his surefootedness has also foregrounded the weakness of his own party President. It will surely force Sinn Fein to reassess the way that they address voters in the south.

    I understand the plaudits that Jim Allister has picked up, but to be fair, the outsider / rejectionist hand is always an easy one to play in elections like the European one where we’re not making big decisions about candidates. Those elections are about sending signals: Fair enough.

    To play the hand that McGuinness has this year would be too big an ask for most politicians

    By the way, I’d prefer to keep this nomination anonymous, but I’d add that I’m emphatically not a supporter of Sinn Fein.

  • DC

    “Arelene Foster MLA”

    How can that be right, she’s a hypocrite. Rank hypocrisy. I’m thinking the byelection where she stood and won despite legislating away with double-jobbing and previously giving up council work because of the obvious competing priorities on her time only to return to local council to steady the faultering DUP. And all of this at time of economic stress with her as minister for enterprise and trade yet fucking around, dividing her time on local council business.

    Not forgetting “being minded” re Sweeney.

    No, no, no!

    If you’re going to vote for anyone in SF the best person there in terms of connecting with the electorate is Alex Maskey and perhaps Conor Murphy close second. McGuinness is alright but no politician of the year.

  • mickmccann

    Arlene Foster is without a doubt the most capable Minister the Executive has. Articulate, intelligent and competent, she has proven her credentials time and again.

    As someone else said, she deals with whatever is thrown at her with a calm collected professionalism and reprsents NI brilliantly on a more global stage.

    She maybe a councillor despite overtures re double jobbing but when the party calls, you must answer and this is the same across the board and arguably across the world.

    She has had a tough year, being the Ecomony Minister during the worst recession many of us can remember is not a job most people would want but she has tackled it with a determination to see us through with minimum pain and I for one am glad it has been her in the role.

    She was also asked to stand in for the DFP Minister Dodds for one of the most important finance debates of the year and more than held her own, leading to speculation of a potential second promotion in as many years.

    How can anyone not think she has been one of the outstanding politicians of the year??

  • Karly Greene

    Please please make this different than the usual sectarian politics here and vote STEVEN AGNEW! Come on… how can anyone really say any MLA at present when they have ALL took advantage of the expenses system.

    Steven trippled the Green Vote in the Euro elections, came across positively in the media and really works hard at a grass roots level!!!

  • cmBelfast81

    I’d like to nominate Mark Durkan for leading by example on the expenses row and double-jobbing.

  • I agree with cmBelfast81, Mark Durkan has to be Politician of the Year. He took a lead on double-jobbing by stepping down as ETI Committee Chair, despite having a strong command of the issues, having been a former Finance Minister and Deputy First Minister.

    He also gets under issues and ensures he’s fully briefed and can run rings around his peers on the floor of the Assembly and Westminster.

    He is one of the few politicians who appears to be guided by principle rather than partisan advantage. Also, in the year that he announced his intention to resign as SDLP party leader, it showed the colour of a great politician that he knew that the time had come to stand aside from that role to focus on his role as a frontline parliamentarian and constituency representative, at which he is first rate.

    He stands head and shoulders above other Northern Ireland politicians.