The Uncuts: 2020 Political Awards (part I)

Best International Politician: Joe Biden  

Our hearts may have entered 2020 longing for it to be last year of Donald Trump’s presidency. But our heads should have told us that one term presidents are rarely beaten, especially when benefitting from a growing economy and strong approval ratings for economic management.

In early February, Joe Biden secured a lower vote share at the Iowa caucus than Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg (we said, this time last year, he was one to watch and is now the President-elect’s nominee for Secretary of Transport).

Covid-19 transformed the Trump presidency and the Biden candidacy. It took a global pandemic to politically expose Trump’s inability to effectively run the federal government and make resonate Biden’s backstory of grief, resolve and decency.

While Covid-19 upended the presidential race, Biden deserves immense credit for fighting it on his own terms – not allowing himself to be goaded by Trump into spats on Twitter or elsewhere, failing to provide an easy target for Trump’s attacks on “radical socialism”, and maintaining consistent message discipline throughout the campaign.

Now this message – building back better for all Americans – needs to be made real. In a deeply divided country, with a political system grounded in bipartisanship, this will not be easy. But is a fight that Biden must win to overcome Trumpism, even if his victory over Trump makes him one of 2020’s heroes.

Political Self-Harm Award: Jeremy Corbyn.

In an unrivalled act of foot-shooting the former leader decided, after explicitly being asked not to undermine in any way the results of the EHRC report into anti-Semitism, did exactly that, declaring that said anti-Semitism had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.

For his trouble, he earned himself a suspension of the PLP whip and his party membership, suspensions which the party reportedly had not remotely planned to impose until his unwanted intervention.

While the party’s existing and undeniably flawed disciplinary procedure allowed his reinstatement as a party member, Keir Starmer informed him that the PLP whip, which was a matter for the leader personally, would not be reinstated and that Corbyn would sit for the present as an independent in the Commons.

Given that Corbyn has neither provided a bona fide apology (a suitably “non-apology apology” was issued the very morning of the disciplinary panel) nor deleted the original Facebook statement, as demanded by the panel, his current status as an independent MP looks likely to last some considerable time.

King of the North: Andy Burnham

While the Labour mayors of Merseyside (Steve Rotheram) and the Sheffield City Region (Dan Jarvis) rarely make national news, the Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, often seems more of an agenda-setting presence than Sadiq Khan in London. This northern ascendency is a form of levelling-up after two larger than life London mayors, Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson, consistently placed the capital’s concerns at the heart of Whitehall.

Burnham’s ability to make the weather contains lessons for Liam Byrne and Tracy Brabin, hoping next year to become Labour mayors in the West Midlands and West Yorkshire. But, with Greater Manchester Police now in special measures, Burnham faces challenges of his own.

The dependency of mayors upon central government for resources puts them at perpetual risk of supplicant status. Tax reform could change this. Irrespective of whether Burnham succeeds in having the mayoralty be a ticket back to being a viable Labour leadership candidate, he will have secured a creditable legacy if he helps bring about this long-delayed change. Especially if this can be done in a way that works not only for Greater Manchester but also for less metropolitan and prosperous places.

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4 Responses to “The Uncuts: 2020 Political Awards (part I)”

  1. A.J. says:

    Interesting choices. Biden is already being more or less written off by ‘The Guardian’.
    Corbyn will doubtless carry on being the nuisance he has always been. Andy Burnham made a wise choice and got his feet under the table in Manchester, where the police are now almost wholly ineffectual. No sign of Burnham doing more than eating a crumb of humble pie, however.

  2. John P Reid says:

    Chang your web Page name
    to libdem uncut

  3. Alf says:

    The Most Adoring Blair Cultist winner would be Lord Adonis. Hands down. He’s lost any last trace of free will. He’s met his God. An utterly pathetic man.

  4. Anne says:

    Andy Burham is definitely King of the North.
    Andy Street – Mayor of West Midlands has not had a great impact – given he only won with a small majority – Liam Byrne may have a chance.
    Happy New Year.

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