I’d like to start with a personal choice. Rafael Benitez was a brilliant manager of Liverpool Football Club but the manner of his departure was the real measure of the man. A day after his “mutual’ dismissal he made a visit to the offices of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, which does invaluable work with the relatives of those who lost their lives in the Hillsborough Disaster, and made a donation of £96,000 for the 96 supporters who lost their lives that day. At a time when he was suffering acute personal disappointment and facing the prospect of uprooting his family from their home on the Wirral, this was an extraordinary gesture.
Another great injustice was also righted this year. Lord Saville’s report on Bloody Sunday, the darkest day in the history of Northern Ireland’s troubles, finally gave some measure of justice to the people of Londonderry. Will it result in prosecutions? Probably not, but that isn’t the point.
It’s been a dire year for English football, both on and off the pitch, but there is some hope that we might finally be forced to put our house in order. That the main instigator of reform is a Frenchman will unquestionably stick in the craw of many English football fans, but the new UEFA financial regulations, masterminded by Michel Platini, the President of UEFA, will hopefully force English clubs to plan for a more sustainable financial model, rather than depend on debt and wealthy foreign backers.
One man has managed to laugh at American politics this year while the rest of us have just been appalled. John Stewart, host of the Daily Show on More 4, has combined humour with biting criticism of the tone of political debate in the US which gets ever more hysterical. His Rally to Restore Sanity at the Lincoln Memorial attracted 215,000 people carrying banners like “I don’t agree with you, but I’m pretty sure you’re not Hitler” and “I’m a little annoyed but I’ll get over it.”
The Back from the Death Award this year has to go to British manufacturing. God only knows we’ve tried to kill it off enough times, but mercifully it is still there and, by all accounts, performing well. If we are to continue to pull ourselves out of the recession we need it more than ever.
The British Electorate also deserves a mention this year after sending a clear message to our politicians that the era of two-party politics has been dying for some time, they just haven’t noticed. The General Election result demonstrates that what the public wants is consensus politics, not wild swings from left to right and back again. I only hope we all remember this when it comes to the referendum vote on Electoral Reform in May.
However, my winner this year managed to pass historic healthcare reform through the American House of Representatives, where LBJ and Bill Clinton had previously failed, then followed it up with the one-two punch by reforming those that caused the financial meltdown with the Wall Street Reform Act and finally giving US citizens some much needed protection with the American Consumer Protection Act. That she then lost her job as Speaker of the House of Representatives only goes to show that the best politicians are often operating out on a limb, leading their electorate not following.
My Woman of the Year is Nancy Pelosi.
Finally, I’ll take it upon myself to thank all readers of this blog this year, we start again on January 4th 2011! Happy Christmas.