There are two ways in which our annual survey can ask Conservative’s panel of Tory members to choose a politician of the year.
First, we can select some names ourselves, add a write-in option, and ask the panel members to make their choices. That has the obvious effect of steering them towards the names we cite.
Or else we can simply ask them to write in the names themselves – citing none ourselves and so giving no steer. This year, we’ve taken the second route (for the first time, as far as I know).
Consequently, a large number of names were submitted – 181 in total. Which means that no-one was ever likely to win a majority of the 553 votes submitted.
Nonetheness, the winner, with 54 votes, is Lee Anderson. Boris Johnson won 35 votes, Jacob Rees-Mogg 32, Theresa May and John Redwood 29 each, and Graham Brady 22.
Anderson recently laid into Labour member Gary Neville – called out earlier on Have I Got News For You over taking money from a Qatari-owned sports channel – for comparing the Government’s treatment of union strikers to Qatar’s of foreign workers.
“Another party political broadcast by a millionaire,” he tweeted. Looks like ITV is on my banned list now. Talk about football Gary and keep your nose out of politics. You don’t know what you are talking about.”
This may have propelled Anderson to the front of the panel’s mind. Whether it did or not, Anderson, a former Labour councillor and coal miner who took Ashfield from it in 2019, has form.
He has blunt views on Brexit, travellers and poverty – having invited opposition MPs to visit an Ashfield foodbank where he said that meals could be made for 30p (it provided a mandatory cooking course).
And last year he refused to watch any England team matches at Euro 2022 in protest against players taking the knee. Fifty-four may not be only a tenth or so of the total, but it’s more than anyone else gained.
Others who didn’t vote for him will surely also have warmed to his plain-speaking style – and ask what the point is of being a backbencher if you don’t speak out.
The don’t knows and won’t votes added up to some 25 votes, and 71 panel members skipped the question altogether. The seems to be little enthusiasm or politicians of any party among the panel amidst these bleak times.