Honorary Order of Suez – David Cameron
From triumph to tragedy, Uncut’s 2015 politician of the year is awarded the Honorary Order of Suez for 2016.
This is an extremely rare accolade, earned only by those politicians whose train-wreck judgement on a career-defining issue doesn’t just end their political life, but tips the country off a precipice into the dangerous unknown.
Anthony Eden is the one other politician to have qualified for this least sought after honorific. At a push, Edward Heath might have been considered in 1974 for calling, and losing, an election while at the mercy of striking unions. But David Cameron is the first politician to unequivocally clear the threshold for this prize since 1956.
Having become Conservative leader with a clear view that the Tories needed to “stop banging on about Europe,” David Cameron departs as Britain prepares to exit the EU with Europe set to dominate the next decade of British politics.
It’s hard to conceive of a greater or more personal political disaster for him. His manifold political successes – from beating David Davis for the Tory leadership to becoming Prime Minister in 2010, turning back Scottish independence in 2014 and winning an unprecedented majority at the 2015 election – will be wiped from the historical record. David Cameron will be remembered for one thing and one thing alone.
It is quite an extraordinary and dizzying fall.
British politician of the year – Theresa May
Getting to the top of the greasy pole merits recognition. Theresa May has hankered after the top job for many years and amidst the carnage of the post-Brexit Tory leadership campaign (see below Political suicide bomber of the year and Media moment of the year) she was literally the last candidate standing.
May’s ascent might have been comparative – less her rise, more others’ fall – but she is now resident in Number 10 and has the opportunity to define her governing creed.
Her challenges are plentiful and the whispers flowing out of Whitehall about micro-management and institutional sclerosis do not augur well. Her very Brownite journey to the top, defined by studied inaction, seems to have extended into a quintessentially Brownite management approach to the Number 10 in-tray.
Nevertheless, for the good of the country, Uncut wishes her well in understanding how Downing Street differs from every other department of state and a better fate than 2015’s Uncut British politician of the year.
Political suicide bomber of the year – Michael Gove
This is a special category created to recognise the extraordinary endeavours of Michael Gove in 2016.
He started the year as a family friend of the Camerons, a close political confidant of the Prime Minister Cameron and widely regarded as one of the smartest in the Cabinet with impeccable personal connections across the parliamentary party.
He ends it estranged from the Camerons, shunned by Prime Minister May, out of the Cabinet and with a new cadre of lifelong political enemies from the Boris Johnson campaign, sitting along-side him on the backbenches.
In 2016, Michael Gove couldn’t pass a bridge without burning it.