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 seventh 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 14 nominees appears below. These were sought from Lib Dem members via our most recent survey; some 250 nominations were submitted, and each of those short-listed needed to clear a threshold of four 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):

Alan Rusbridger

Alan Rusbridger Q&A pic
Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, for publishing intelligence files leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Birgitte Nyborg


Birgitte Nyborg from Borgen, first (fictional) female Prime Minister of Denmark, and a principled but pragmatic liberal who wins elections. (Wikipedia entry for Borgen here.)

Caroline Criado-Perez

LIBVOICE Caroline Criado-Perez

Caroline Criado-Perez, journalist and activist, for her successful campaign to ensure women are represented on British banknotes. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Coalition for Equal Marriage

coalition equal marriage

Coalition for Equal Marriage, a campaign group created in 2012 by Conor Marron and James Lattimore, to champion the same-sex marriage legislation passed this year. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Don’t Judge My Family

Don't Judge

Don’t Judge My Family for its campaign against the Conservative Party’s tax breaks for married couples. (Read about the campaign here.)

Edward Snowden

LIBVOICE Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor, who disclosed intelligence files to the media. (Wikiedia entry here.)

Jo Shaw

jo shaw

Jo Shaw, former Lib Dem member, who resigned from the party in protest at its parliamentarians’ support for the extension of ‘secret courts’. (Read about the campaign against secret courts here.)

José Mujica

LIBVOICE jose mujica

José Mujica, President of Uruguay, for his government’s move to legalize state-controlled sales of marijuana in order to fight drug-related crimes and health issues. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Lindiwe Mazibuko


Lindiwe Mazibuko, Parliamentary Leader for South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), the youngest, black woman leader in the caucus’s history, who has campaigned (among other things) against state censorship. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Malala Yousafzai


Malala Yousafzai for her campaign against the Taliban’s ban on girls from attending school and for her speech this year at the UN calling for worldwide access to education.

Nelson Mandela


Nelson Mandela, first black President of South Africa, in recognition of his commitment to equality, justice and democracy. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Pope Francis

LIBVOICE pope-francis

Pope Francis for saying the Roman Catholic church should prioritise the Christian obligation to assist the poor and the needy over condemning abortion, contraception, and homosexual acts. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Pussy Riot

LIBVOICE pussyriot

Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist punk rock protest group, known for their feminist campaigns, promotion of LGBT rights, and opposition to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin – for which they were imprisoned. (Wikipedia entry here.)

Tom Daley

Tom Daley

Tom Daley, Olympic medal-winning swimmer, for his personal openness and honesty in announcing he is currently very happy in a relationship with a man.

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!)

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

2013: Sam Bowman, campaigner for free market social justice

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 News and Polls.


  • Philip Welch 1st Jan '14 - 3:32pm

    One of the few advantages of old age is sometimes you can say “When I was your age…” So here goes: When I was Tom Daley’s age, I could not have made the video he produced. It was illegal for me to have gay sex, and any older person involved with me would have been facing a jail sentence. That’s why I have spent most of my adult life supporting campaigns to change laws and attitudes to improve the lives of LGBT people. For much of the time the only major political party supporting us was the Liberal Party and then the Lib Dems. Conservatives did their best to make my life as miserable as possible and Labour did not want to know. The despicable opposition to the Equal Marriage legislation illustrates how much more there is to be done, but…..

    Suddenly a brave young man, at the start of his career has taken a stand; I suspect against the wishes of his media advisers, possibly against the advice of many family and friends, Tom has simply told people the truth. He’s not prepared to live with “a dirty little secret” and wants everyone to know how happy he feels about it.

    Is this not what Liberalism is all about: creating a society where people can flourish and develop without having to live a secret life in fear of prejudice and intimidation. Well said, Tom. Let’s hope you come back from Rio with medal round your neck, dangling from a rainbow ribbon.

  • “Glad to see we do not have a neoliberal economist standing this time.”

    What about Nelson “I’m a Thatcherite” Mandela?

  • The Guardian recently published an exchange of letters between one of the members of Pussy Riot and the philosopher Slavoj Zizek. Maybe something was lost in translation, but what they were saying appeared to me to be politically incoherent to the extent of incomprehensibility. While saluting their bravery, and that of anyone who stands up to Putin, doing so does not make you a liberal per se.

  • A fictional character on the shortlist? Really?


    If the bloody Pope wins I want to hand in my humanity card. Just because he’s less authoritarian than any other Pope before (apart from Robbie Coltrane, since we’re apparently allowed fictional characters) does not mean he’s a liberal.

  • Richard Shaw 1st Jan '14 - 7:27pm

    Shouldn not Alan Rusbridger and Edward Snowden be a single nomination, as the reasons for their nomination are the same, in the same way the 2009 winners “Campaigners on behalf of Jean Charles de Menezes” are a single nomination?

  • It is heartwarming to see Tom Daley nominated, and I have put him second. This Borgen woman nomination is just ridiculous. Glad to see Alan Rusbridger as well as Edward Snowden.

  • If we are going to have dead people and fictional characters perhaps Jesus could be nominated next year.

  • Alex Honeker 1st Jan '14 - 7:56pm

    If Nelson Mandela is in there (which is great), Margaret Thatcher should also be there. After all, she did more for liberalism in Britain than the Lib Dems have ever done…

  • Given how important a strong liberal voice is, it seems a wasted opportunity that this list has descended to being just a bit of fun – it can’t be intended to be serious if it features a fictional character, the current Pope (liberal presumably meaning here a sight less awful than the last one), and someone who campIgned over banknote design (really?!) . Also, brave as Malala undoubtedly is, which liberal causes has she worked for or spoken about beyond education of women- if we allow that to be taken as an uniquely liberal proposition?

  • John Broggio 2nd Jan '14 - 12:27am


    Caroline Criado-Perez has had to overcome a great deal for “just” campaigning over female representation on a banknote. Just have a quick scan of her Twitter feed to see the number of rape and death threats she garnered in response – a lot of her campaigning since has, rightly, been to see her (and others) able to make positive statements without being in fear for ones safety. She might not be my first choice but she’s a liberal if not a Liberal.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 2nd Jan '14 - 8:02am

    Whilst I am a sceptic with regard to the inclusion of Birgitte Nyborg, the writers might have been worth a nomination for demonstrating some of the dilemmas of liberalism and coalitions. But then, at least four of you did nominate her…

  • revsimonwilson 2nd Jan '14 - 12:45pm

    Am disappointed not to see the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland or Naomi Long in this shortlist. They have stood up for liberal values in the face of death threats, arson attacks and violence.

  • While I understand why Tom Daley is there, can we really say that he is a liberal? Philip, again I understand your point, but to me the real definition of who should be on this list is someone who is consistently pushing a liberal agenda – and while Tom Daley’s actions with regard to his relationship certainly are liberal, I don’t know enough about his other views to say whether or not he is genuinely a “liberal voice.” Certainly, what pleased me most about his video was the collective shrug of “so what?” it received from most people.

  • Stuart Mitchell 2nd Jan '14 - 1:26pm

    Lionising somebody for coming out feels a bit 1980s. What he did, and the reaction to it, is certainly a symbolic marker of sorts, but as Keith points out, it was the general indifference that was the really significant thing. I don’t think he’s a hero himself but he’s shown us how far we’ve travelled. We’ll know we’ve REALLY arrived the first time a celebrity comes out and it DOESN’T make the news.

    There are a few genuine heroes on this list, a handful of wastes of space, one fictional character, a couple of tokenistic entries, and one true giant in Malala.

    My money’s on Edward Snowden.

  • Stuart Mitchell 2nd Jan '14 - 1:55pm

    Philip Welch: “Labour did not want to know”

    Fact: Every single legislative advance in gay rights, including last year’s equal marriage act, was brought about with more votes from Labour MPs than from anybody else.

  • Simon Banks 2nd Jan '14 - 3:03pm

    Anyone who openly disagrees with Putin starts well with me, but Pussy Riot’s use of a cathedral for their piece offended people who didn’t necessarily like Putin and from what I saw the whole thing seemed rather juvenile. But I admire them for coming through the Russian prison experience. However, weren’t there also some Greenpeace activists charged innovatively with piracy who had a similar experience and who had a much more coherent message?

  • andJohn Innes 2nd Jan '14 - 4:43pm

    System does not work from a mobile phone.

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Jan '14 - 5:46pm

    Next year can we have Lib Dem Voice of the year? It appears that some have sought to iron out social democracy from the party’s history and this shouldn’t happen besides through a democratic mandate.

  • Philip Welch
    “The despicable opposition to the Equal Marriage legislation illustrates how much more there is to be done, but…..”

    Erm, the Equal Marriage Legislation only went through because of support from Labour.

  • David Allen 2nd Jan '14 - 6:17pm

    Birgitte Nyborg winning here? It’d be a bit like when the Raving Loony Party beat the Owenite SDP candidate!

  • Julian Tisi 2nd Jan '14 - 6:47pm

    I’m rather amused by some of the comments about who should / should not have made the shortlist. I wonder what part of “These were sought from Lib Dem members via our most recent survey” some people don’t get.

    For my part, my top 3 in no particular order are Malala Yousafzai, Ed Snowden and Pope Francis. As for the latter, I’m voting for him because he’s changed so much in the church in such a short time, particularly the focus on compassion over rules. He also seems to be practising what he’s preaching. Yes, I wish he would go further on many issues (gay rights, womens rights). But anyone who gets denounced by the American right as a dangerous Marxist is doing something right. For those gleefully saying how he’s an imaginary person I have to laugh. If you don’t like him, don’t vote for him, but please try to be a little less juvenile.

  • Max Wilkinson 2nd Jan '14 - 6:51pm

    Nyborg has certainly done more liberal things than the Pope over the past year. Getting a commission on sex workers’ rights was a pretty excellent liberal achievement. Even if it wasn’t ‘real’, it’s certainly as real as some of the stuff the Catholic church believes in.

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Jan '14 - 11:41pm

    I felt really bad for sounding rude about it being called Liberal Voice and not Lib Dem Voice of the year. I clearly don’t have enough things to get annoyed about :).

    For the record, I voted for Malala first and Jose Mujica second. I voted for the fiction character ahead of Edward Snowden because I don’t agree with the way he went about his whistle blowing, but I don’t want to open a can of worms on that and I probably don’t know enough about it to win an argument on it!

    My last place went to Alan Rusbridger, because the Guardian annoys me with it’s deep prejudices and wind up articles.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Jan '14 - 2:13am

    There is only one organisation left in the world big enough and powerful enough to stand up against the might of international capitalism and the power of money, and therefore to give an alternative view of how the world could work and of how people could be. Like it or not, it is the organisation of which the Pope is leader. If we are saying that someone or something that champions gay rights and does nothing else is enough to be “liberal voice of the year”, whereas having views on those things which are not conventionally liberal (while VERY FAR from the views of many Evangelical Protestant and Muslim leaders) automatically rules someone or something out, what does that say about liberalism? Is that now the only issue that matters to liberalism?

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