We live in a (largely) democratic society, which means there are a lot of things to vote for and positions up for grabs. There’s the top job, the Prime Minister. There are several cabinet and shadow cabinet positions; and bated breath accompanies reshuffle announcements. We vote for our local councillors, we vote for our MPs, we indirectly vote for our government. These are all important, of course.
But today we want to shed a little light on some of the lesser-known political accolades that are up for grabs.
Parliamentary Beard of the Year
Jeremy Corbyn didn’t win the General Election (although technically neither did Theresa May, thanks to First Past the Post) but there is a parliamentary award he does currently hold, and for the seventh time in his career–Parliamentary Beard of the Year, Organised by the Beard Liberation Front. This year, Corbyn secured half of the vote; although the 2015 prize, also Corbyn’s, was about as close as this election.
Corbyn also won in 2001, the first year it was awarded, and other previous winners include George Galloway, David Blunkett and Robin Cook.
Parliamentary Jazz Awards
Waverny MP, Bob Blizzard had a dream: to get more national recognition for jazz music–for both musicians and venues. So he formed The All Part Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group, and now over 100 members have joined to transcend party politics and enjoy music together.
Awards include Musician of the Year, Ensemble of the Year, CD of the Year, and Venue of the Year. One former MP received a special award in 2016 for his position as co-chair of the group, but I confess that you could have replaced Michael Connarty’s name with literally anything else and I’d have still believed you.
Parliamentary Book Awards
Three of the four categories in the 2016 awards were for books written by current and former parliamentarians – for both fiction and non-fiction – because, as we know, some of them can’t afford breakfast without a second income. Maybe ask Theresa May where she shops.
Shortlists included Ken Clarke (Kind of Blue–memoir), Paddy Ashdown (Game of Spies–non-fiction) and Jeffrey Archer (Cometh the Hour–fiction). In the fourth category for non-parliamentarians writing about UK and EU parliamentary matters, ex-Newsnight host and current Corbyn interrupter, Jeremy Paxman, made the final three with A Life in Questions. The winner for memoir was The Long and Winding Road by Alan Johnson, the non-fiction winner was Called to Account by Margaret Hodge, fiction was taken by Now is the Time by Melvyn Bragg, and the non-parliamentarian crown went to Citizen Clem by John Bew. I promise that I have heard of at least 50% of the people I just named.
Interestingly, Lord Ashcroft’s biography of our former PM, Call Me Dave fit the criteria to be nominated for the inaugural Parliamentary Book Award; I can’t imagine why it didn’t make the shortlist.
Parliamentarian of the Year
Things get a little bit serious here, but where there’s politics, there’s always fun to be poked. Alongside Parliamentarian of the Year (Hilary Benn) and Politician of the Year (Theresa May, for some unknown reason), Spectator awarded the gong for Resignation of the Year to Ian Duncan Smith; who quit at 9pm on a Friday–much to the annoyance of some journalists who had probably already started their end of week drinks – and without telling Prime Minister David Cameron. Good riddance as far as I care IDS. You can stick your welfare reforms where the sun doesn’t shine.
A lifetime achievement award was also awarded to Nigel Farage following the historic 48/52 split of the EU referendum. The award came with a keg of Hobgoblin, and presumably a deep hope in the minds of everybody involved that this would make him finally go away. After Paul Nuttall’s resignation, I’m not holding my breath.
What other Parliamentary Awards could we nominate for? Person most likely to be Prime Minister might be a bust, but what about “Best Theresa May Understudy?” And Liz Truss is a shoe-in for a lifetime achievement for interest in cheese.