The good, the bad, and the very ugly - Martin Bright's 2012 political awards

By Martin Bright, December 20, 2012

As the year end awards ceremonies proliferate, it is only appropriate that the JC should make its own set of honours.

In such a time of austerity there are no gongs as such and the event will not be televised, but here are the JC Political Editor’s Awards, some serious, some less so.

Jewish and Proud Award: Ed Miliband

The Labour leader has not always appeared comfortable with his Jewish identity, but he has now begun to talk publicly about his heritage as the son of refugees from fascism.

His journey began at the end of last year when Mr Miliband said he would not be here today were it not for Israel, where several members of his family settled.

His journey of discovery culminated in his conference speech in October when he talked proudly of his Jewish immigrant roots.

International Zionist Conspiracy Award: Conservative Friends of Israel

The CFI has always been one of the most powerful advocates for Israel on the British political scene.

This year it rallied support around the latest operation in Gaza and welcomed the Prime Minister himself to its business lunch.

In some circles, CFI director Stuart Polak is credited with near-supernatural powers of control and was named as part of the Sunday Times “Generals for Hire” investigation in October.

But if CFI is so powerful, how come William Hague is so off message? And puppetmaster Polak appears to have lost control of our man in Israel altogether.

Backbencher: Robert Halfon

The Harlow MP could equally have been nominated as the hardest-working man in parliament.

He has been a tireless campaigner on radical Islam and the funding of British universities by authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

This year his campaign on fair petrol pricing persuaded the Chancellor to cancel a planned rise in fuel tax earlier this month. Surely it is only his spectacular corduroy suits which now stand in the way of further advancement.

Conspiracy Theorist: Jeremy Corbyn

In April Mr Corbyn called for an inquiry into the “Israel lobby” in Britain after the successful appeal of Raed Saleh, a leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, against moves to deport him.

The Islington MP sensed sinister forces at work within the Zionist-Tory nexus, while failing to spot anything at all dodgy in Mr Saleh’s comments about the blood libel, his description of homosexuality as “a great crime” or his perpetuation of the myth that that Jews were warned about 9/11 in advance.

Rising Star: Luciana Berger

Despite early suggestions that the former director of Labour Friends of Israel had abandoned her roots in search of a mainstream political career, Ms Berger has emerged as one of the genuine talents in the 2010 intake of MPs.

She has steadily established herself as shadow environment minister, challenging the government’s green credentials.

She has also made a point of campaigning on local issues as a Liverpool MP after criticism that she was a carpetbagger.

Politician of the Year: Margaret Hodge

There is no more prominent figure in British politics in 2012 than the formidable chair of the Public Accounts Committee.

Under Mrs Hodge’s leadership, the committee has fearlessly taken on the business world’s “masters of the universe” and often left them quivering in their boots.

The banks, welfare to work companies and more recently the tax-shy heads of multinationals Starbuck, Amazon and Google have all been given tongue lashings by this emboldened body.

Political Mensch: Matthew Gould

UK ambassador to Israel Mr Gould recovered from accusations of “dual loyalty” from Labour MP Paul Flynn to become key to establishing links between Britain and Israel’s high-tech industries — but has also warned Israel about the erosion of support on the centre ground of British politics.

This year Matthew Gould has proved he is very much his own man.

Last updated: 7:45pm, December 20 2012