Double Act of the Year has undoubtedly been Lord Justice Leveson and Robert Jay QC. Whilst his Lordship has scowled over proceedings at his inquiry, Robert Jay has been engaged in singlehandedly rescuing the English language. His verbal barrage, which included “nugatory”, “condign”, “propinquity” and “occlude”, left many of us, including witnesses, wondering what the hell he was going on about, but my word it sounded good.
The onward march of social media has continued this year, leaving in its wake the mainstream which too often seems outdated and sluggish. My Blog of the Year is Alastair Campbell’s, which combines sharp political analysis with piercing wit. Like him or loathe him, PR has not had a performer of his stature since he left government ten years ago.
A very personal choice for New Media Source of the Year is the Anfield Wrap (“If you’re Red get on it!”), a podcast which involves half a dozen Scousers sitting around talking about football, in the process providing a welcome antidote to the lynch-mob mentality of the average 606 caller. How I long to be in the studio with them.
Whilst history might not repeat itself, it certainly echoes. The imprisoning of Pussy Riot in Russia brought to mind the White Rose students in Nazi Germany without, hopefully, the same horrific denouement. That four young women were able to bring such a heavy-handed response from Putin’s government demonstrates that it is often the fire of youth which politicians must fear the most.
My Communicator of the Year is actually a former client of mine. Siemens’ Juergen Maier, in his many appearances on Channel 4 News, has been succinctly doing the Treasury’s job for it, namely talking up the economy, putting over the case for manufacturing and extolling the virtues of state intervention via a National Investment Bank. One senses he is destined for bigger things, bigger even than Siemens.
Norbert Walter-Borjans, finance minister of North Rhine Westphalia, also deserves a quick mention. He has led the way on tax evasion by buying bootleg CDs full of the names of German evaders, simultaneously bringing Swiss German relations to historic lows. Keep up the good work Norbert.
My film director of the year is Danny Boyle. I didn’t (and couldn’t) sit through all of the Olympic opening ceremony, but his homage to the National Health Service, at a time when it is under siege from our leaders, discomforted the Government and provided a cultural highlight.
Whilst this is an individual award, a number of organisations deserve special mention this year. The Hillsborough Independent Panel overturned 23 years of injustice with a forensic analysis of events which led to the deaths of 96 football fans, whilst USADA, the US anti-doping agency, deserves great credit for uncovering the wrong-doing of a whole generation of elite cyclists.
On the subject of Hillsborough, outside of the families and campaigners, two individuals deserve special praise. It’s been a bad year for BBC Newsnight but Kirsty Wark’s interview with the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police on the day the report was released was a tour-de-force performance, which simultaneously combined barely concealed rage with direct and at times blunt questioning.
The Prime Minister also deserves praise. The word is that he was genuinely shocked by the contents of the Independent Panel’s report, in particular the alcohol testing of the dead bodies of children. His response in the House of Commons, along with his apology for the murder of Irish solicitor Pat Finucane, demonstrated that when he does not allow the “red mists” to come down or play too hard to the cameras, he can come across as a sincere man of great integrity.
Two women have stood out this year for their dignity in the face of unimaginable traumas inflicted upon their families. Both lost sons and then had to endure years of foot dragging, mendacity and falsehoods on the part of the police and other authorities. Both have continued to believe that justice was possible and this year achieved their long held goals.
My Women of the Year are Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence and Anne Williams, mother of Kevin Williams, one of the 96 who died at Hillsborough.
It falls to me wish all readers of this blog a happy Christmas, this blog will return in the New Year.