UK Politics: Best and worst of 2017

Parliament was rocked in 2017 by a dramatic general election
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As another year of shocks and upsets in UK politics reaches its conclusion, Max Liu discusses the heroes and villains, winners and losers of 2017...

"In 2017, Corbyn was the undoubted winner, the absolute boy and, quite possibly, Britain's next Prime Minister.

Moment of the year

The shock exit poll is becoming a ritual in British politics. It happened in 2015, when the Conservatives won far more seats, and Labour far fewer, than expected. But the news at 10pm on June 8 this year surpassed even that. A stunning night ensued, as seat after Tory seat fell to Labour and the government lost its majority. Perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised. The moment when the tide really turned came three weeks earlier when Labour's manifesto was leaked in draft form. This proved to be an inadvertent masterstroke, as it allowed voters to have a good look at Jeremy Corbyn's policies. They rather liked his list of sensible and modest progressive proposals and, today, Labour are [1.9] to win the next general election.

Winner of the year

Twelve months ago, on this annual list, Corbyn was a candidate for villain of the year and Labour were the losers. Back then they were 14 points behind the Tories in the polls and riven by internal warfare. When Theresa May called the general election on April 18 this year, Labour were as far behind as 18 points. Even Corbynites feared the party would be wiped out. But a coalition of young people, pensioners, middle-income parents, metropolitan liberals and grime artists helped to upset the odds. In our uncertain times, can said coalition hold long enough to carry Labour into government? Time will tell but, right now, Corbyn is the undoubted winner, the absolute boy and, quite possibly, Britain's next Prime Minister.

Loser of the year

Some of the vitriol aimed at the PM since the election has been vile. As Chancellor, George Osborne was a sadist and as a newspaper editor he's vicious, describing May as a "dead woman walking" and making gratuitous comments about her in an interview. May's inability to sack her enemies in the cabinet shows that she's in office but not in power. But never forget how smug and gung-ho May was prior to the election. Long before that, some of her policies and rhetoric as Home Secretary were the stuff of the "nasty party" she once claimed to reject. She ran a cynical and uninspiring election campaign this year and, in squandering her majority and authority, this has been May's annus horribilis. She's [1.58] to leave Downing Street before Brexit is complete.

Hero of the year

Thousands of people get involved in politics because they want to create a better world and, among them, might well be the true hero of 2017. But for our purposes we'll stick to the politicians. Three years ago, Emily Thornberry's career looked like it was over when she was sacked by Ed Miliband. In 2017, as Shadow Foreign Secretary, she's doing great work, exposing the incompetence and dishonesty of her opposite number and helping to unite the Labour Party. Thornberry isn't a natural Corbynite, and has many allies on the right of the party, but she has worked effectively with the leadership for two years. If only others had followed her example, put aside their petty reservations and ambitions and done the same - then Labour would probably be in office today. Along with Corbyn, Thornberry was the star of an election campaign that John Prescott hailed as "the best since 1997." Back in the New Labour day, as Tony Blair's Deputy PM, Prescott held together both sides of the party. But could Thornberry go one better than Prezza eventually? At [6.4], she's the new favourite in the next Labour leader market.

Villain of the year

Until he is removed from public life it's possible that this dubious honour will be awarded every year to Boris Johnson. In 2016, he put personal ambition before his country's future and persuaded millions to vote for Brexit, even though he knows it will have tragic consequences for Britain. This year, he alienated foreign allies and undermined the Prime Minister who appointed him. Worst of all, he put in danger Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe - the British Iranian woman who has been in prison in Iran for 18 months. In any other circumstances, under any other PM, Johnson would have been sacked months ago. And yet he remains in a position of enormous influence and responsibility and, at [10.0], in with a fighting chance of being the Conservative Party's next leader.

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