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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 16:57 GMT
Kennedy wins top politician title
Charles Kennedy
The Lib Dem leader won politician of the year
Charles Kennedy has been named politician of the year in the annual Parliamentarian of the Year awards.

The Lib Dem leader, who opposed the Iraq war, won the prize at the awards sponsored by the Spectator magazine, edited by Tory MP Boris Johnson.

Veteran Tory MP Sir Peter Tapsell, another opponent of the war, was named Parliamentarian of the year.

He won the title "for his independence of judgement and diligent questioning of the government".

Mr Johnson, who is Conservative culture spokesman, said of Mr Kennedy's Iraq stance: "It is hard to deny that his initial political decision [to oppose the war] appears on the face of it to have been vindicated."

The Lib Dem leader said that although there had been profound divisions over Iraq in the House of Commons there had been a "mutual respect" between opponents.

'Astonished'

He added: "There is no satisfaction to be derived from having had many of our arguments borne out by events.

"We would all rather see Iraq resolved successfully.

"I hope this recognises that as Liberal Democrats we can take a principled decision, stick to our guns and win respect for it."

Sir Peter said he was "absolutely astonished" at winning the award after 45 years as an MP.

"I'm immensely honoured and touched to receive this," he said.

Sir Peter added that he thought the Iraq war was "one of the greatest failures of statemanship since the Crimean War".

Speech of the year?

Other winners at this year's even included John Redwood, whose return to the frontbench prompted him to announce to the Tory conference: "I'm back."

He was named survivor of the year.

Alan Johnson was named minister to watch and Labour's Vera Baird won backbencher of the year.

The panel, made up of 10 parliamentary correspondents from the national press, chose Barry Sheerman for speech of the year.




SEE ALSO:
Howard named top Parliamentarian
13 Nov 03 |  Politics
Verdict on Howard's PMQs debut
12 Nov 03 |  Politics


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