ANALYSIS: Top 100 Most Influential People On The Left – Iain Dale On The Movers And Shakers of 2015

Each year for the last eight years I have convened a panel to compile a list of the Top 100 Most Influential People on the Left. You can read numbers 1-50 here, and 51-100 here.

Back in 2007, Gordon Brown topped the list, but of the other 99 people included, 85 of them do not figure on the 2015 list. This may reflect the transient nature of today’s politics, but I suspect when we come to next week’s list of the Top 100 Most Influential People on the Right we will find much more stability.

This year our panel comprised of a Member of Parliament, a local government leader, a former Labour special advisor, a left of centre journalist and a left wing historian. The most difficult thing when deciding who to include and exclude, is to define what ‘influence’ actually means. In the end it means being influential in a combination of national politics, the media, on the Labour Party and its leader.

In all, there are 46 new entries in the whole list, which is twice as many as in any normal year. Out go the two Eds, Miliband and Balls. Peter Mandelson disappears, as does Alastair Campbell. Russell Brand, Alistair Darling, Tessa Jowell, all out. They’re joined in the dustbin of New Labour history by Chris Leslie, Caroline Flint, Jim Murphy, Mary Creagh, Andrew Adonis, and Douglas Alexander.

In comes the editor of the Morning Star, Ben Chacko, the odd, Corbyn-supporting, new MP like Clive Lewis plus a whole host of his new entourage, represented in this half of the list by his new press officer Kevin Slocombe and his deputy chief of staff, Annaliese Midgley. The Greens are represented by three women – Caroline Lucas, Sian Berry and Natalie Bennett, while the SNP take seven places in the whole list.

The panel also did a bit of star spotting by including newly elected MPs Wes Streeting, Sir Keir Starmer and Jess Phillips.

People always look at individuals on lists like this and sniff the political wind to find out if their heroes are on their way up and their anti-Christs are on their way down or even out. There’s little doubt that following Jeremy Corbyn’s enormous victory the left and their supporters are on the rise, while New Labour establishment figures are on the wane as figures of influence.

Interestingly, there are more trade union leaders on this list than in any other year so far, and most of them are on the way up. Len McCluskey might have gone down a couple of places but Sir Paul Kenny and Dave Prentis will be key figures in the future. In the lower reaches, leaders of smaller unions like the Fire Brigades Union and Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers Union are making their presences felt. 

The jury is still out on how much influence Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell will actually have.

It’s usually a given that the leader of the Labour Party will always be number one on this list but this year one of our panel made the case for Nicola Sturgeon appearing at the summit on the basis that she is the most powerful left of centre politician in the country. But power doesn’t always equate to influence and they were outvoted.

Only in a year’s time can we judge whether Jeremy Corbyn has moved his party to support his own policy views. If so, he will top this list again next year. If not, then our panel member may get their way and Nicola Sturgeon could overtake Corbyn.

Interestingly, the number of the women in this year’s list has gone down from 34 last year to 31 this year. And of the 31, only 22 are Labour figures. Food for thought for those who think the battle for women’s equality has been won in the Labour Party.

So who are likely to be the rising stars of the Corbyn era, and where do they feature on this this?

In the shadow cabinet the Eagle sisters could well form a power base. Angela, the new shadow business secretary rises 36 places to 7, while sister Maria, the somewhat improbably new shadow defence secretary rises a massive 62 places to 18.

Rosie Winterton, the chief whip and architect of the reshuffle goes up 50 places to 8 and will play a more important role than any Labour chief whip since the days of the Lib-Lab pact of the late 1970s.

Seema Malhotra, the new shadow chief secretary to the Treasury is a high new entry at 19, and all politicos will be keen to observe her relationship with her boss (and constituency neighbour), John McDonnell.

It is fair to say there probably won’t be much of a meeting of minds. Gloria de Piero also enjoys a meteoric rise of 52 places to 27. She may not have a high profile portfolio but as a key ally of Tom Watson she will punch above her weight and be a key figure on the media.

Another rising star is Owen Smith, the new shadow work and pensions secretary. An original thinker and eloquent voice, Smith has it in his to reach the top of the Labour Party, that is if they can stomach another Welsh leader.

Similarly, the new shadow health secretary, Heidi Alexander, comes straight into the list at number 30. It’s a meteoric rise for the Lewisham MP, but we suspect she is a star of the future, whoever leads the Labour Party.

It’s also interesting to see that old warhorse Ken Livingstone back on a list he has yo-yoed in and out of ever since 2007. His former chief of staff Simon Fletcher, and his former head of policy Neale Coleman are now doing the same jobs for Jeremy Corbyn, and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if Ken Livingstone given some sort of official role in the future. Arise, Baron Livingstone of Cricklewood? Nothing would surprise me.

One thing is for sure, when we come to convene our panel next year this list will have changed dramatically.


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