NEW POLL: Who is your Liberal Voice of the Year?

Earlier this week, in the dying days of the last decade, we launched our search for the Liberal Voice of 2010, to find the individual or group which has had the biggest impact on liberalism in the past 12 months. And as is our tradition, we’re looking beyond the ranks of the Lib Dems to find the greatest liberal who’s not a member of our party.

Our thanks to all who put forward nominations — here is the short-list of 12 (in alphabetical order):

  • Bob Ainsworth, former Labour secretary of state for defence, for his controversial public call for the legalisation and regulation of all drugs;
  • Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, for exposing state secrets to the full glare of publicity;
  • The Australian Democrats for continuing to campaign for social liberalism;
  • David Cameron, Conservative Party leader, for his commitment to forming the Liberal-Conservative Coalition Government;
  • Ken Clarke, Conservative secretary of state for justice, for his humane approach to prisons policy;
  • Naomi Long, deputy leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland and MP for Belfast East, for becoming the first liberal to be elected to Westminster from her part of the UK since 1914;
  • Bradley Manning, a US Army soldier charged in July 2010 with the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, for his single-minded belief in full disclosure;
  • President Barack Obama for pushing through a reforming agenda, especially on healthcare, against fierce opposition;
  • Aung San Suu Kyi, chief Burmese opposition politician, who spent 15 of the 21 years under house arrest until her release in November;
  • Binayak Sen, an Indian public health specialist and human rights activist, found guilty of sedition and considered by Amnesty International to be a prisoner of conscience;
  • Andrew Wilkie, an Australian politician and independent federal member, for his campaigner on civil and human rights, the environment, euthanasia, gay marriage, and withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan; and
  • Liu Xiaobo, a writer and and human rights activist, who’s a political prisoner in the People’s Republic of China, for calling for political reforms and the end of communist one-party rule in China.

To vote, please use the poll on the right-hand side of the page. And please feel free to use the comments thread to debate the relative merits of the short-listed Liberal Voice of the Year candidates …

Previous winners of the LDV Liberal Voice of the Year award:

2009: Peter Tatchell, international human rights campaigner.

2008: Campaigners on behalf of Jean Charles de Menezes ( and Stockwell Shooting Inquest Jury.

2007: Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty.

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This entry was posted in LDV Awards.


  • heckmonwyke 1st Jan '11 - 8:48pm

    Great Advert for 4x4s Are they Green Now?

  • Oh, look, we have a ballot-stuffer. Joy!!/HouseofTwits/status/21308458355662848

  • TheContinentalOp 1st Jan '11 - 9:21pm

    Ken Clarke’s “Humane approach” to prison policy.

    Is that the policy which aims to cut the number of public sector prisons from 120 to 80?
    Is that the policy which could well see more prisons being run by those bastions of human rights at G4S?
    Is that the policy which is seeing prison regimes curtailed due to budget cuts?

    What’s humane about any of that?

  • Strange to think that Nick Clegg, the first Liberal Leader to lead his party into Government in a generation, doesn’t make the shortlist.

  • Tony Dawson 1st Jan '11 - 10:20pm

    Good to see that the shortlist ensures the victor is ABC.

  • David Allen 1st Jan '11 - 11:07pm

    Complete idiocy. Two Tories versus ten or so genuine liberal / left of centre candidates. FPTP voting, giving the two Tories a huge advantage.

    Have you guys even thought what the Press and Labour will make of it when Cameron wins?

    Just when you thought the Lib Dems couldn’t possibly make another big screw-up…..

  • Seems some people missed the part of the article explaining that this poll is specifically to vote for our favourite NON-Lib Dem… I agree it should be AV/STV though.

    And polls like this tend to mean different things to different people, though perhaps that’s unavoidable since the same might be said of liberalism itself. Are we just voting for the most liberal person or is it meant to be the person we most respect (not necessarily one and the same)? FWIW I  went for Obama as being the closest to a winner in both categories. Ken Clarke is probably more liberal in some ways, but I’m not a huge fan of his bulldozer personality. 

    I agree with others above that human rights activists, while admirable for different reasons, aren’t necessarily liberal. But then Peter Tatchell won last year… Aung San Suu Kyi is a tireless and fearless fighter for democracy, but who knows whether she’d be liberal or not in power? Democracy and liberalism don’t always go hand in hand.

    And Cameron isn’t a liberal. He formed the coalition from necessity and the desire to be PM. Being liberal compared to most Conservatives isn’t the same as actually being liberal!

  • Having politicians from other parties on the list is not necessarily a problem – I voted for Peter Tatchell last year – but including David Cameron is definitely a mistake because it gives a opportunity for supporters of the Labour and Conservative parties to embarrass us by voting for him. Never mind the nuances of the poll, the headline will be something like: “LibDems vote Cameron ‘Liberal’ of the year”, and that is damaging to us.

  • I didn’t vote for Cameron but I have to say I was sorely tempted purely for the mischief-making potential but hey I’m an elder statesman now or at least ‘senior’ so I rose above it all lol.

  • I resent that the poll is run by First Past the Post. AV would be far more appropriate.

  • If Liberal values stand for anything they surely include: opposition to war crimes, murder and torture – taking action to expose abuses of power by corporations and governments – supporting freedom of the press and protecting human and civil rights in countries around the world.

    The ‘west’ was happy to see the shortcomings of China and Russia exposed, but now attention has turned to USA the same action is condemned. Its sheer hypocrisy. Don’t liberals believe in universal values?

    Julian Assange has done more than anyone to advance these values. As importantly, he’s rattled the media’s cage. Where were they when the military prepared for illegal war? Most of them were beating the war drums.

    Where were the financial journalists when the banks were sleep-walking into crisis? Most of them were simply repeating corporate press releases on mergers, branding and people changes.

    If the fathers of liberalism were around today, I have no doubt they would be supporting Julian Assange.

  • simon wilson 2nd Jan '11 - 2:25pm

    Surely it should be “liberal” voice of the year not “Liberal”?

  • Why isn’t this poll run on AV?

  • Poppie's mum 2nd Jan '11 - 4:10pm

    neil bradbury @ “Why are we so sheepish about being proud of our achievements? No wonder we are going down in the polls”

    Do you really, really not understand why Lib Dem polling is on a downward trajectory ?

    Clue 1….no amount of crowing about achievements will help recover from collaborating with the wrecking of public services and wantonly increasing unemployment.

    Clue 2….not bothering to tell the public they were voting for a right wing cuts agenda whilst campaigning for something different.

    Clue 3….behaving as if being in coalition means acting like the abused partner in a dysfunctional relationship.

    Clue 4…. Nick Clegg now the most distrusted and disliked man in the UK and he makes things worse by acting in a whining, self pitying way.

    Clue 5….Vince Cable spills the beans to young female undercover reporters and yet trots out the same Tory cuddling stuff in public.

    That’s enough to be going on with.

  • David Allen 2nd Jan '11 - 7:23pm

    “Opinion polls have shown a fall in LibDem support since the general election, but that was expected and has since flattened off.”

    Yes, technically it’s called an “asymptotic relationship”. For non-geeks, it means that as your support drops down towards zero, you begin to suffer from a shortage of potential defectors!

  • Peter Chegwyn 3rd Jan '11 - 12:06am

    How absolutely plain bl**dy stupid to nominate Cameron as Liberal Voice of 2010.

    He’s not a Liberal. He’s not a liberal.

    As Tony Hill has said above, this is just going to give the Murdoch tabloids some easy ‘knocking’ copy when mischief-making Tories come onto this Forum and vote.

    Cameron may have had (to quote the article above) “the biggest impact on liberalism in the past 12 months” but that does not qualify him as a ‘Liberal Voice’ or a voice for liberalism.

    And it is highly questionable whether his “impact on liberalism” has been good for liberalism.

  • Ed The Snapper 3rd Jan '11 - 8:23am

    It looks like David Cameron will win. An absolute disaster for the LibDems. David Cameron had little choice but to form a coalition with the LibDems. A shame that the Nick Clegg did not negotiate a better agreement. Cameron is so much cleverer than Clegg. Cameron has played a blinder and I am sure that he has a long-term plan to neutralise the LibDem party so that the next gerneral election goes back to a straight Labour v Conservative battle.

  • I see Cameron is well in the lead. He was the one that opened up and offered the deal very early on, but as George Osborne said in the BBC “Five Days…” prog , it was the leading option. I don’t understand why Bob Ainsworth is os on the list. What has he done apart from making one speech which only called for a debate on drugs? He might warrant nomination if he’d been running a campaign for a few years.

  • George Kendall 3rd Jan '11 - 11:17am

    In order for us to see what members think, as well as the general public, I’ve created a poll in the members forum:
    (in two parts because the members forum can’t handle 12 questions)

  • Foregone Conclusion 3rd Jan '11 - 2:43pm

    I also ask – why is this not being down using AV?

  • It seems to me that this isn’t actually being done with FPTP because it seems to be possible to vote more than once! After casting my initial vote a couple of days ago I appear to have the option to now cast another (or does it just seem that way?)… this would be a strange interpretation of FPTP!

  • Mike(The Labour one) 3rd Jan '11 - 7:10pm

    ‘Guido Fawkes’ has been on twitter mentioning this. I imagine a fair amount of the prongs that like him will be rushing to vote for Cameron.

  • Miss Ewanme Botha 3rd Jan '11 - 8:20pm

    Ooo !! Another pointless poll !!

    My vote goes to whoever knitted Mike Hancock’s jumpers , honey x .

    Whoever it was didn’t say much but they certainly added colour to the biggest spying non-story of the year .


    E x .

  • Simple, guys -let’s get behind Aung San Suu Kyi. This is justified by her courageous and measured stand, judged perfectly to move towards a necessarily long term objective of freedom in her country without triggering violent reaction against her people. Also it will stop mischievous non Lib Dems getting Cameron into the winning position.

  • Hi,

    I don’t think this poll is very fair. Can we make Julian Asssange and Bradley Manning a joint entry? Because it’s pretty clear they’re two people who are very closely related and anyone who’s voting for one I imagine is very likely to vote for the other.


  • Nick(not Clegg) 5th Jan '11 - 9:23am

    I did not vote for Barack Obama. He would have been my first choice but being tagged “a great liberal” in a poll of UK liberals is hardly going to help him at home where “liberal” , to his opponents, is a term of abuse.

    So I voted for Liu Xiabo to send a message to the Chinese government.

    I agree that it was mad to include Cameron and Clarke on the list. The fact that so many readers of LibDem Voice have voted for them is profoundly depressing. Has our Party taken leave of its senses?

    I agree with those commentors who have said that this poll is ill-conceived; it can do no good and may do some harm: especially if Cameron “wins”. On second thoughts, it is just possible that a “win” for Cameron may, perversely, do some good: by damaging him in the eyes of some members of his own party and of the right-wing press; is that what those who voted for him are hpingto achieve?

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