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

liberal-voiceToday’s the day we launch our search for the Liberal Voice of the Year to find the individual or group which has had the biggest impact on liberalism in the past 12 months. This is the sixth annual award, 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.

The list of 10 nominees appears below. These were sought from Lib Dem members via our most recent survey; 222 nominations were submitted, and each of those short-listed needed to clear a threshold of five separate mentions.

To vote, please use the poll below to rank the nominees in order of preference.

This year’s shortlist for Liberal Voice of the Year is as follows

(in alphabetical first-name order):

38 Degrees

38 Degrees “brings you together with other people to take action on the issues that matter to you and bring about real change in the UK.” (Wikipedia entry here.)

Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

Alliance Party: “Northern Ireland’s cross-community party: working to build a society free of segregation, sectarianism and prejudice.” Deputy leader Naomi Long MP, who along with colleagues was subject to violent threats in December, is pictured. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Barack Obama

obama michelle hug
Barack Obama: the 44th and current President of the United States, re-elected in 2012 for a second term as the first African American to hold the office. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Coalition for Equal Marriage

coalition equal marriage
Coalition for Equal Marriage: “set up by two guys, Conor and James, in response to a much-publicised campaign attempting to derail the government’s plans to move toward greater equality for LGBT couples.” (Wikipedia entry here.)

Hacked Off campaign & Hugh Grant

Hacked Off campaign: “Working closely with victims of various press abuses, and on their behalf, Hacked Off believes that now is the time for Britain to have a better press that is answerable to the public it is supposed to serve.” Hacked Off board member Hugh Grant is pictured. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Ken Clarke

Ken Clarke: former Justice Secretary and now Minister without Portfolio. One of Britain’s best-known politicians, he also served in the Thatcher/Major Cabinets as Education Secretary, Health Secretary, Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Lord Justice Leveson

Leveson inquiry
Lord Justice Leveson: his judicial public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press laid bare the excesses of many journalists while his four-volume Report controversially proposed statutory underpinning of an independent self-regulator. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai: a school student known for her education and women’s rights activism in Pakistan. She was shot in October in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Rowan Williams

rowan williams
Rowan Williams: just-retired Archbishop of Canterbury, who has been a prominent critic of successive governments’ policies, and attempted to maintain the unity of the Anglican church while supporting reformers on issues like female bishops. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Sam Bowman

sam bowman
Sam Bowman: policy director at the Adam Smith Institute, who campaigns for free market social justice (‘bleeding heart libertarianism’), including being in favour of immigration, drugs law reform and equal marriage, and against bank bailouts. (Wikipedia entry for ASI here.)

To vote, please use the poll below to rank your candidates in order of preference. And please feel free to use the comments thread to debate the relative merits of the short-listed Liberal Voice of the Year candidates… (NB: this poll may not work on mobiles/tablets. And please don’t click on ‘Vote’ til you’ve checked the nominees are in your chosen order!)

Poll for Liberal Voice of the Year 2012 brought to you by OpaVote.

  1. Vote in the poll

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

2012: Mark Littlewood, campaigner for de-regulated markets.

2011: Aung San Suu Kyi, campaigner against political abuse in Burma.

2010: Peter Tatchell, international human rights campaigner.

2009: Campaigners on behalf of Jean Charles de Menezes ( and Stockwell Shooting Inquest Jury.

2008: Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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This entry was posted in Polls.


  • Can’t vote from an iPad !?

  • Surely between us all we could have come up with more than one female – no Janis Sharp, for example or Caitlin Moran. I know at least one woman was rightly rejected but a virtually all male list is not a good thing.

  • *cough* “Dr Rowan Williams said a new marriage law for gay couples would amount to forcing unwanted change on the rest of the nation. He also said it would be wrong to legalise assisted dying because of the threat it would pose to the vulnerable and because it would go against the beliefs of most people.”

  • @ Mark – sorry. It was a toss-up between a first-past-the-post poll that was mobile-friendly or a preferential voting poll that wasn’t. We went with preferential voting. As soon as someone creates an embeddable, secure preferential voting plug-in that’s mobile-friendly we’ll use it, promise!

  • Tom Papworth 1st Jan '13 - 4:04pm

    Yep. I just f***ed it up as well, and I know others who have done the same.

    I suspect the result may prove to be pretty random.

  • Peter Andrews 1st Jan '13 - 4:32pm

    Great to see preferential voting being used for this at last

  • LondonStatto 1st Jan '13 - 5:07pm

    Only two of these are even worth voting for. Maybe three at a stretch.

  • @ LondonStatto

    I was able to pick three I felt worth a vote, though I find it scary that people nominated Leveson and Hacked off due to their attempts to restrict freedom of speech, and Seriously Ken Clarke, with his support for secret courts? But some liberties appear to be seen as more flexible than others to some people.

  • Peter Hayes 1st Jan '13 - 6:06pm

    Real problem for me was the last 4, Rowan Williams is a liberal but has failed even more than the party leadership. Others I’ve never heard of or do not know what they have done. NI politics is so rarely reported in England so how do we know what the Alliance has done? Also had to steal her MacBook from ‘her indoors’ as the survey did not work on iPad.

  • Jennifer Johnson 1st Jan '13 - 6:17pm

    As usual, these “liberals” mostly seem to be social liberals but very illiberal on economic and fiscal matters. Quite statist in large part.

  • James Sandbach 1st Jan '13 - 7:19pm

    Once again my jaw drops that Ken Clarke is on the shortlist as he was on last year’s shorlist also – hasn’t anyone in our party yet realised yet that Ken is not a liberal, and his record in the Justice Ministry and elsewhere does not support his supposed liberal credentials

  • Also messed up the voting process. Must say that if this list is really the cream of the crop, liberal politics is in dire trouble! The Alliance Party, Obama (yes ok) and that’s about it?
    Thankfully the list of previous winners is more hopeful!

  • David Wilkinson 2nd Jan '13 - 8:53am

    Read the comments above and I am sad that no one bothered to mention Malala Yousafzai a brave person who put her life on the line to improve womes rights in Pakistan where Barack Obama has ordered the deaths of people in Pakistan

  • Well if Geoffrey and Tom have both voted for people they didn’t intend to that should balance out quite nicely 🙂

  • At a time Lib Dems are in govt with all the exposure that implies here are no LDs on the list – at least not active/public ones. And some. like Ken Clarke and Barack Obama are not liberals by any stretch.

    Whatever this tells us about the state of British liberalism it’s not good.

  • Leekliberal 2nd Jan '13 - 5:14pm

    Gordon says ‘At a time Lib Dems are in govt with all the exposure that implies here are no LDs on the list ‘ I suggest he looks at the contest rules which stipulate that party members CANNOT be candidates. Durrh!

  • Oops! Missed that.

  • After electing Mark Littlewood last year in this poll, it will be interesting to see whether the libertarians manage it again with Sam Bowman. Libertarian input to LibDem Voice seems to have diminished in the last few years, although it has never been a hugely significant strand in the politics of the Party. Presumably having a transferable voting system should make it more difficult for the supporters of any one candidate to influence the outcome of this election in a way that does not reflect the views of the regular readership of this blog, or of those of the Party as a whole. (Caveat: OK, I don’t know what the views of those people who regularly read this blog are apart from those who comment on it, but my guess would be that the supporters of the Party who comment represent pretty accurately the views of the activists). I think it is also probably helpful that we are not allowed to see a running total of votes as has been the case in previous years because that also made it easier for people to affect the outcome.

  • Is this open for anyone to vote? It was brought to my attention by Sam Bowman’s twitter feed. I doubt any of the other candidates will engage in the same self-promotion so I fear we may have another odd libertarian winner on our hands this year. 🙁

  • Rev Simon Wilson 5th Jan '13 - 7:58am

    I voted for the Alliance Party wh o have shown liberal values and tolerance in the face of violence, arson and death threats.

  • This poll seems a little open to abuse?

    Malala Yousafzai got my vote anyway.

    Disappointed to see 38 Degrees included and baffled that Ken Clarke keeps getting nominated.

  • I nominated Hugh Grant. The press are much too powerful and routinely abuse that power running rough-shod over people’s right to privacy. Freedom of speech is not the be all and end all. These rights must be balanced and we currently have a harmful imbalance.

  • Richard Underhill 1st Mar '17 - 4:39pm

    Naomi Long (MP 2010-2015) is now leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland and excelled at the leaders’ debate yesterday which was broadcast across the UK on the BBC News Channel (200). This was evident from the applause that her statements and interventions received from the live audience.
    For instance the leader of one of the unionist parties is asking his supporters to give their first preference votes to his party and second preference votes where his party has two candidates but after that he asks them not to vote for the DUP, currently led by Arlene Foster. This was part of a plea to provide the DUP-Sinn Fein partnership with an opposition, under the terms of the Belfast Agreement. The SDLP leader made some encouraging noises. Naomi Long intervened to say that “the Alliance has fought EVERY election on a cross-party basis”.
    Arlene Foster DUP was personally responsible for a lack of financial control on an energy scheme and, as First Minister, is having difficulty escaping from that history. Sinn Fein denied that they knew anything about it.
    Voting will be on Thursday, Counting by STV can take a while, so the BBC TV late-night coverage may run into the early morning. If a devolved administration is not created there could be a return to direct rule by Westminster.

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