It's Christmas Eve so its time to turn off the party politics and hand out the first lot of my political awards 2012!
Campaigner of the Year: Stella Creasy MP (Lab) and Robert Halfon (Con)
This award is shared between two MP's; Stella for her powerful campaign against Pay Day Loan companies and Robert for his successful campaign against the rise in Fuel Duty. Both MP's will no doubt continue to be hardworking campaigners in Parliament over the coming year. Good luck to them both.
Speech of the Year: Charles Walker (Con) and Kevan Jones (Lab)
It is so easy for people to think of politicians simply as robots. The truth is we are normal people, we make mistakes, we get stuff wrong, we are far from perfect. Another shared award this time. Charles and Kevan both made amazing speeches in the House of Commons this year, speaking out about their
mental health problems, breaking the taboo around the issue. Charles told MPs he was a "practising fruitcake" as he
described how he had lived with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for more
than 30 years. Kevan told of his battle with depression and the
"difficult" decision to speak out. You can read Charles' speech here.
Peer of the Year: Lord Shipley (Lib Dem)
Lord Shipley OBE, is a Liberal Democrat peer and former leader of Newcastle City Council up until 2010. Despite being of different political colours I have been impressed by the way he has championed the North East over the past year. I am sure he will continue to be a strong voice for our region. He was recently appointed Deputy Chair of the Regional Growth Fund.
Minister of the Year: Theresa May MP (Con)
I nominate Theresa (not just because she is ultimately my boss at the Home Office!) but because she truly deserves it. The Home Office is a hell of a department to run and she has handled the brief brilliantly. Not only has she managed the department well, she has taken some really brave decisions. When she decided not to extradite Gary McKinnon to the US, it stunned MP's in the commons. You can read a wonderfully insightful interview with Theresa from this weeks Telegraph here.
You can find out who I nominate for Backbencher of the Year, Politican of the Year, Candidate of the Year and my One to Watch on Boxing Day.