Villain of the Year Awards 2013

by George_East on January 1, 2014

2013_villainAfter the King of the Mountains, King of the Valleys and Prat of the Year Awards, we now move on to the business end of this years’ Awards ceremony.   2013 was another sterling year in Villainy, both domestic and international and there is much excitement at the moment here at Allthatsleft  towers as the blood red envelope containing the names of this years’ winners sits unopened before me.

Who will join the previous villainous winners of our Award: David Cameron in our inaugural year, Bashir Al-Assad of Syria in 2011 and Binjamin Netanyahu last year.

First a brief dishonourable mention to those who just missed out on the Awards.   You can tell just how villainous the year has been, when the Daily Mail couldn’t manage higher than seventh in our rankings for the annual award.  This was the year after all that they decided to rubbish the reputation of a dead war hero, just because he happened to be Ed Miliband’s Dad.    The last few months have been full of the kind of anti-immigrant rhetoric, directed at the Bulgarians and Romanians who, I suspect, will be very largely not coming here from today, that would have not been out of place in late 1930s Germany.

Also for the first year since we launched that the Prime Minster, David Cameron, has not made our villainy Awards list, sitting just outside the prize winning places in 6th.  Is this because he has been any less villainous, as he leads a government almost straining every sinew to attack the weakest, poorest and least able to defend themselves in society.  No, of course not.  It just shows how tough the competition has been this year.  I have a funny feeling with the baleful influence of the poisonous Australian Lynton Crosby in the run up to the 2015 election that we will see an even more villainous performance from the Prime Minister in 2014 and a solid return to the Awards rankings.

Without further ado I will now open the envelope.  Drum roll please….

5. George Osborne

In 5th place our odious Chancellor of the Exchequer.   This was the year that the man who has presided over the slowest recovery from any recession in Britishexpenses_villain recorded history having inherited an economy in May 2010 that was growing at the pace one would usually expect to see coming out of a deep recession,  declared vindication for his economic policy.

This was cheered on by right wing columnists up and down the land, and appeared to be accepted as conventional wisdom by the BBC.  Meanwhile across the pond in the US, the British economic experience of the last 3 years is being held up as a real time experiment in economic failure.

Of course if the right wing press opened their eyes they might notice that even on his own terms, Osborne has failed.  The deficit which was supposed to be wiped out in the course of a Parliament will now not even be halved – Alistair Darling’s target without anything like the front ended austerity that the country has been put through.  As for debt it has grown more in the lifetime of this government than in the whole 13 years of the last Labour government (including the period of the bank bailout and the Brown/Darling stimulus after the crash in 2008).   It is going to continue growing well into the next parliament.

Osborne’s response to this is, surprise surprise, more austerity.  Austerity as far as the eye can see.    Shrink the state and cut taxes for the rich.  Thatcherism uber alles.


Russian_Villain4. Vladimir Putin

The President of Russia remains the scariest man on the planet and in 2013 we had another bumper year of villainy from him.

In June of this year, Putin signed off on a law preventing ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’.   Although the law uses this peculiar euphemism in its language, its target cannot be in doubt:  its author, Yelena Mizulina, defined ‘traditional sexual relations’ as ‘sexual relations between a man and a woman’, which she said need ‘special protection’.

The law is effectively a Russian section 28.  It will preclude any holding or being involved in Pride events, speaking in defence of gay rights or publishing any material suggesting that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships.   Putin himself compared homosexuality to paedophilia when challenged on the new law on a visit to Amsterdam.  The effect of the law was soon felt – when four Dutch tourists were arrested in Murmansk in July for discussing gay rights with Russian teenagers.

Meanwhile in September the Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, seeking to protest drilling for oil in the Arctic Sea,  was boarded by armed members of the Russian secret service, under the control of Putin.  This was almost certainly unlawful, as the boat was in international waters and no permission had been sought to board from the flag country of the boat, the Netherlands. The 30 crew members and activists were arrested and charged with piracy, later amended to aggravated hooliganism.

Of course February 2014 sees Russia host the Winter Olympics in Sochi, so as Christmas has approached, Putin has granted amnesties for the Arctic 30, as well as Pussy Riot (who have been banged up since March 2013) and one of Putin’s leading political opponents,  gazillionaire, Mikhaeil Khodorkovsky.  Don’t let this fool you, once the Games are out of the way, you can be sure it will be back to villainy as usual from Vlad.

3.  Bashir Al-Assad

Syrian_VillainAs the uprising in Syria against the brutal Ba’ath party dictatorship of President Assad which started as part of the optimism ushered in by the Arab Spring of early 2011 has devolved into civil war, with atrocities on all sides, this year has seen him up the ante in his desperate game of survival.

This August saw Assad’s villainy reach new depths with the use of sarin gas against opposition positions in the outskirts of Damascus, which killed an estimated 1,400 people.  It was the worst chemical weapons attack since Saddam Hussein launched attacks against the Kurds in Halabja in 1988.   Although there was initial uncertainty as to who the perpetrators were, as time has gone by it has become increasingly clear that it was the Assad regime that was responsible – see in particular the sterling amateur detective work on Syria and the sarin attack in particular done by who has put to shame most journalists in his objectivity and accuracy.


2. Kim Jong-Un

NKorea_villainIf Vladimar Putin is the scariest man on the planet, the supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un is the most psychopathic.    Kim Jong-Un appears to be a cross between a sulky child and the Emperor Calilgula.

Perhaps this is the inevitable consequence of being the youngest head of government in the world in the weird Stalinist hereditary communist state that is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  It is, after all, a state that has as its Eternal President and head of state, Kim Il-Sung, who has been dead since 1994.

This year saw three examples in particular of Kim Jong-Un’s extreme villainy.  Firstly in March 2013 Kim-Jong Un threatened a nuclear strike on South Korea and revealed its plans to build nuclear capacity to be able to attack west coast US cities.

Then there were the purges.  In August 2013 Kim Jong-Un had the members of Unhasu Orchestra and the Wangjaesan Light Music Band, including his ex-girlfriend, pop singer Hyon Song-Wol, executed by machine gun on charges of ‘pornography’ in front of fellow band members.

In December 2013 Kim Jong-Un’s uncle and mentor, Jang-Sung-taek was dragged from a politburo meeting on live television.  He was then subject to a summary ‘trial’ and execution as ‘worse than a dog’.  The charges included not applauding enthusiastically enough when Kim Jong-Un became supreme leader and building a monument to Kim Jong-Il which was too shady.

The boy king is a monster and our runner-up in this year’s Awards.


And the biggest villain of 2013  is…..

1. Iain Duncan Smith

Tory_VillainOnce upon a time Iain Duncan Smith, chastened from his disastrous two years as Tory leader, embarked upon a tour of some of the poorest areas of the country, in particular some of the most deprived estates in Glasgow.  He did so, it was said at the time, properly to understand the causes and consequences of contemporary poverty.  His apparent concern at the time convinced a fair few people that Duncan Smith was not the right wing loon he had previously appeared, but more in the mould of a Victorian social reformer.   Church groups, anti-poverty charities and even Polly Toynbee were all taken in.

The proof of the pudding is, of course, in the eating and in the three years of this government we have seen Duncan Smith’s true colours.  Firstly it is quite clear (as George Osborne apparently believes) that Duncan Smith is as dumb as a brick, the stupidiest cabinet minister by a distance.

It is also clear that he is utterly incompetent – universal credit has been a predictable and predicted fiasco from the get go.   The intended pilot of universal credit in four local authorities in April didn’t go ahead.  It ended up being launched in one authority alone and only covering 300 people per month.  The reason: the IT system could only cope with single people without children and could not cope with changes in circumstances.  Single people without children are, of course, the least likely to be reliant on the benefit system and changes of circumstances happen all the time (indeed are actively encouraged at the point of a metaphorical gun by ATOS).  By the end of the year only 2,150 people were on Universal Credit.

It was suppose to be rolled out in October 2013 across the country.  This has been put back by the DWP to October 2014, and there is every chance that it will not even have been implemented outside of the initial pilot areas by the time of the next election.

But being stupid and incompetent are not reasons for getting our villainy award.  No, that is awarded for the cruelty of the changes overseen by Duncan Smith and the apparent contempt he has displayed towards those affected.  The bedroom tax has resulted in many people having to leave long term homes and with local authorities unable to provide replacement properties with the appropriate number of bedrooms, it is the biggest single cause of homelessness in the country according to homelessness charities.Duncan Smith has presided over the brutal changes to  disability benefits, which has resulted in ATOS and other assessment providers certifying the terminally ill and the seriously disabled as fit for work, at the pain of losing all benefit.  In one notorious case nadir a sufferer of cerebral palsy was assessed as having a ‘temporary’ condition.

In recent months there has been the scandal of the growth of people reliant on food banks.  From 41,000 in 2010 to more than 500,000 this year, with the Christian Chartiy, the Trussell Trust charity alone having over 1,000 distribution centres.  The cause of growth is pretty clearly the number of people are falling through the huge holes in the safety net that IDS’s  cuts have opened.  In a debate in the Commons this month, Tory MPs were laughing at the thought of those so poor they can’t feed themselves, with IDS scarpering as quickly as he could from the debate.

Chris Mould, the director of the Trussell Trust, sought a meeting with Iain Duncan Smith to discuss the growth of food banks and how the growing numbers of .  He was met with not only a refusal but abuse – IDS accused Mould of ‘scaremongering’ and the hitherto virtually unknown charity of being publicity seekers desperate to keep their names in the papers.  Other leading Tories, taking IDS’s lead, have declared that those using food banks are doing so because they have spent all their money on gambling.

We are moving to the point where it is no long inconceivable that for the first time in more than 70 years we will see deaths from starvation or severe malnutrition in the UK.    I fully expect when that happens for IDS to blame those who died, if, that is, he can pause for breath between his guffaws.

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