Who will you nominate as your Liberal Voice of the Year?

liberal-voiceWe’re launching 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.

We’ll be seeking nominations from Lib Dems signed up to our members’ forum in our forthcoming survey – this is a heads-up so you can get your thinking caps for nominees you think merit inclusion. Last year, 222 of you submitted nominations, and each of those short-listed needed to clear a threshold of five separate mentions.

Who do you think in 2013 has done most to advance the cause of liberalism (and isn’t a Lib Dem)?

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 (Justice4Jean.org) 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 LDV Members poll.


  • There’s a weary inevitability about Mandela this year I feel.

  • Nick Barlow 14th Dec '13 - 9:47am

    What’s Mandela done for liberalism compared to Some White Bloke From A Think Tank?

  • *cuts to the end of the sketch*

    brought peace?

  • John Broggio 14th Dec '13 - 10:15am

    Edward Snowden

  • If you read what Mandela has written or if you listened to what he said before he went to prison and after he came out , he did not describe himself or consider himelf a Liberal.
    The ANC of which he was a principle member was a broad based party, a nationalist party.
    The ANC was not and is not a Liberal party.
    The Liberal Party in South Africa disbanded because it refused to play the apartheid game.
    Nelson Mandela may be a hero to a lot of Liberals but that does not qualify him to be a Liberal Hero.

  • Jo Shaw (no longer a Lib Dem), for campaigning against secret courts.

  • Mark Littlewood won in 2012?

    What a joke.

  • I don’t think you understand the meaning of “liberal”, John Tilley, or do you believe the women who campaigned for the right to drive in Saudi Arabia should be condemned for deaths due to car accidents or pollution due to emissions?

  • Martin Lowe 14th Dec '13 - 2:22pm

    In order to prevent a third year of some think tank no-mark getting an award, I’d also like to nominate Edward Snowden for promoting the liberal concept that the State shouldn’t be holding detailed personal information of its citizens as a matter of course (which he has done at massive personal cost to himself).

  • Paul In Twickenham 14th Dec '13 - 2:47pm

    Yes, Ed Snowden. It has surely been an eye-opener for many people to realize the industrial scale of state intrusion into the lives of citizens that is now routinely conducted with the active consent of our political masters. Like Martin Lowe and others say, there’s something a bit dubious about “heroes” from think tanks, whose names have been put forward by people who … (drum roll…) work for think tanks!

  • Eddie Sammon 14th Dec '13 - 3:22pm

    My thoughts are anyone but Snowden. He could have campaigned about the intelligence services without breaking the law – liberalism is not anarchism.

  • Stephen clarke 14th Dec '13 - 3:53pm

    It has to be Sarah Teather for keeping alive the voice of true Liberalism on difficult issues like Immigration.

  • Peter Andrews 14th Dec '13 - 3:58pm

    Edward Snowden is my nomination as well

  • Martin Lowe 14th Dec '13 - 4:00pm


    So you object when Edward Snowden breaks the law but when the head of GCHQ breaks the law you give him a free pass?

    Anyways, the breaking of a law when it is necessary to do so is not incompatible with liberalism – especially when they are laws of a State that is being illiberal.

  • Eddie Sammon 14th Dec '13 - 4:20pm

    No I don’t give anyone who breaks the law a free pass, but two wrongs don’t make a right. I fail to see how passing a hard drive of secrets to the Guardian is part of the proper democratic processes. I understand if people are neutral on this, but he can’t be our hero. I don’t have forensic level details on this case so please stick to generals with me.

    It just seems to be a load of authority bashing to me, no serious political party can cheer handing state secrets to the Guardian, besides in a very qualified manner.

  • Simon Bamonte 14th Dec '13 - 4:55pm

    I, too, vote for Edward Snowden.

    @Eddie, it would be interesting to hear your opinion on the men who exposed the mass-spying on innocent people by the STASI and KGB. They did break the laws of their nations and were classed as traitors, just like Snowden. After all, the NSA and GCHQ now have powers and technology that would have made the aforementioned agencies green with envy. Do you think the men who released the Pentagon Papers in the US were wrong to break the law in doing so? What about Rosa Parks breaking US segregation laws by sitting where she wanted on a bus?

    Illiberal and unjust laws should be broken, IMHO, and good men have a duty to do so.

  • Eddie Sammon 14th Dec '13 - 5:23pm

    Simon, I actually don’t think the law should be obeyed at all costs, I’m not a fan of moral absolutism, I just don’t like knee-jerk hero proclamations for anyone who leaks state secrets. I’m not saying anyone here is rushing to praise, but plenty have been out of an ideological belief that “authority + secrecy = bad”.

  • Z 14th Dec ’13 – 1:33pm

    I fail to understand how your comment relates to anything I have said. Could you explain please?

    I have made no reference in this thread pr anywhere else to “women who campaigned for the right to drive in Saudi Arabia “.

    What on earth do you mean? Why do you say – I don’t think you understand the meaning of “liberal” ??

  • @JohnTilley says ‘If you read what Mandela has written or if you listened to what he said before he went to prison and after he came out , he did not describe himself or consider himself a Liberal.’
    But if you look at the analysis in Political compass ( http://www.politicalcompass.org/analysis2) Mandela is located on the Libertarian left and so qualifies for our vote. The location of Milliband well on the authoritarian right may surprise some who are toying with Labour.

  • How about a joint nomination for Liberal Democrat Voice of the year for all those people demonstrating out in the snow in Kiev?
    Demonstrating for democracy and for the EU and for freedom from tyrants.

    Or do we prefer to honour freedom fighters a few decades after the struggle once the dust has settled?

  • Stephen clarke 15th Dec '13 - 2:15pm

    I Certainly agree that the people of Ukraine deserve a Nomination if we are going international. If not I will stick with Sarah Theather for standing up for true liberal values in the face of populist bigotry.

  • Simon Banks 15th Dec '13 - 6:27pm

    John Tilley:

    Liberal Democrat members are excluded from being nominated. The terms of the nomination are not that the person is or considers him/herself to be a Liberal, but that they’ve had a big (presumably positive) impact on liberalism.

  • A Social Liberal 15th Dec '13 - 7:06pm

    Snowden was right to do what he did, given that he discovered a series of wrongs that the state (in his case, the US) would not have corrected had he tried other ways of whistle blowing. However, I fail to see how his actions make him a Liberal.

  • Shirley Campbell 15th Dec '13 - 10:08pm

    I nominate Graham Smith of Republic. As a Liberal from the heart, and sometimes from the head, I despise the hypocrisy of those in the Liberal Party who purport to support a fair and just society, and equality of opportunity, whilst bowing down to those for whom success was never by virtue of their own efforts.

    Graham Smith and his colleagues may not be popular but they are principled. Although, who knows what the future holds since it took Nelson Mandela twenty-seven years to become popular and gain a cult following.

    I nominate Graham Smith of Republic to be awarded a true “Liberal of the Year Award”. Yes, I have renewed my LibDem membership even though I know that I am not in the LIbDem targeted age group.

  • I would nominate David Icke for setting up “The Peoples’ Voice”.

  • “Graham Smith and his colleagues may not be popular but they are principled.”

    Unpopular bur principled definitely trumps unpopular and unprincipled.

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Dec '13 - 7:56am

    A sensible opinion from A Social Liberal. I was thinking that Ed Snowden could have gone to the UN and also not share quite as much information as he did. I think he really should have been specific on the problems with what he saw. Maybe he was, but I didn’t get that opinion from the general reading I did on the topic.

  • Shirley Campbell 15th Dec ’13 – 10:08pm
    I nominate Graham Smith of Republic.

    Shirley Campbell’s nomination definitely worth support. Even if it results in Shirley and me and some others being imprisoned or transported to the colonies.

  • Simon Banks 15th Dec ’13 – 6:27pm
    The terms of the nomination are not that the person is or considers him/herself to be a Liberal, but that they’ve had a big (presumably positive) impact on liberalism.

    I guess that in 2012 the award was made for negative impact ?

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Dec '13 - 8:22am

    I meant to say: Shirley Campbell’s nomination for the Republic head is a good one – the only problem is that I don’t think they’ve had a lot of exposure this year.

  • Edward Snowden.
    Also The Guardian for publishing Edward Snowden’s revelations very responsibly

  • peter tyzack 17th Dec '13 - 9:58am

    all the above have had plaudits enough.. my nomination is to Pussy Riot for bringing their issues to global attention, being willing to act sufficiently radically to ensure that they were seen and heard.

  • James Moore 17th Dec '13 - 1:46pm

    I’d put forward Mary Beard for Liberal Voice of the Year. Her cutting through the right-wing nonsense on immigration on Question Time and generally putting up with a lot of nonsense (I’d like to use stronger words here) on social media for daring to have opinions. Also she voted for us this year! (https://www.libdemvoice.org/mary-beard-explains-why-shes-voting-lib-dem-this-thursrday-34291.html)

  • Stephen clarke 17th Dec '13 - 11:48pm

    How about Anna Soubry MP (tory) for her very well aimed attack on Nigel Farage for spreading fear?

  • Stephen clarke 17th Dec '13 - 11:52pm

    How’s this for a quote? ‘I don’t like your tone, Mr Farage. You do not talk facts. You talk prejudice. That’s what you talk. You scaremonger and you put fear in people’s hearts.

    ‘Look, times are tough. We know that. But when times are tough, there’s a danger and history tells us when things are not good, you turn to the stranger and you blame them.

    ‘And you shouldn’t. That is wrong. And I’m proud of our country’s history and I’m proud that people come here.’
    Anyone disagree with it?

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