Hero of the Year Award 2014

by Ray_North on January 4, 2015

I can say with a certain amount of confidence that the awards for Hero of 2014, which comprises of five heroes, is by far the most controversial of our annual awards ceremony.

The list of previous winners is an interesting one, demonstrating as it does the events and individuals of that particular year that interested us – in 2013 Malala overwhelming won; in 2012 Danny Boyle’s victory reflected our enjoyment of the London Olympics, the year before that, 2011, we praised Jens Stoltenberg, the Norwegian Premier for the way in which he dealt with the massacre of teenagers by a lunatic fascist Anders Brevik; whilst our inaugural award went to Aung Saan Su Kyi.

This year has seen a huge array of villains, a whole legion of prats, but true heroes have been a bit thin on the ground as the world has become an exasperating place with individuals who seem to perpetaute war, disease, inequality, poverty and stupidity being far more prevalent than the virtues that we laud on these pages – that of compassion, courage, intelligence and foresight.

I’m not sure that this is a perfect list with almost all (there are a couple of obvious exceptions) of those who feature, being flawed in many ways, it is also a list that could be called profoundly contradictory but, this is the list that we voted for and this is the list that I can reveal for you now, so, in reverse order:

5. Gordon Brown
We have always had a soft spot for Big Gord on these pages – ok as a politician he suffered from those two massive weaknesses, ego and hubris – things which significantly clouded his judgement, however, he is not, as the Tories and Lib-Dems like to peddle the man who caused economic downfall, quite the opposite, if it wasn’t for his attention to detail and huge intelligence in 2008, the economic catastrophe would have been much much worse.

In 2014, Gordon Brown enjoyed a little bit of a renaissance during the Scottish Independence Referendum – with the ‘No’ campaign lacking any real bite and the ‘Yes’ campaign in the ascendency, a decision was made to call for Brown – and in the space of about two weeks, he delivered some of the most wonderful speeches that we have heard for years, matching the Nationalists for passion and intelligence, Brown probably swung the vote in favour of the Unionists by firming up the ‘No’s’. It was a reminder that there was once a time when Brown was, without doubt the greatest and most powerful politician in Country and how, if things had been slightly different, he could have made a much better PM than that Blair fellow. Oh well.

4. Alex Salmond
It may seem a contradiction for us to praise Gordon Brown for saving the United Kingdom and then place his arch-nemesis (well one of his arch nemesis), Alex Salmond above him in the list of heroes. But, on these pages, we hope that we are able to praise when praise is due and Alex Salmond has been one of the most impressive British Politicians for years – hugely underrated by those on the right, who dismiss him as a bit of an old fart, Salmond has been the force behind the campaign for Scottish Independence for the last twenty odd years.
He has been an excellent first minister and came within an ace of delivering Independence to Scotland. Now, as regular readers may remember, we were split on these pages when it came to Scotland leaving the Union, but one thing we were united in was our belief that if it was to come about, then Salmond would have made a fantastic Prime Minister – he is a worthy addition to our top five for 2014, and I believe that he may play a big role in our political futures in 2015.

3. The Ebola Volunteers
One of the most devastating stories of 2014, has been the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Africa – a horrible illness which more often than not leads to a horrible death, Africa has little by way of resources to cope with the epidemic – that is why those who have gone out there as volunteers are held in the highest esteem by those of us at Allthatsleft.
In particular, I’d like to mention the British Nurse William Pooley, who went over to Sierra Leone as a volunteer nurse, contracted the disease, nearly died, recovered, and then went straight back out there – what a true hero he is.

2. Harry Leslie Smith
Harry Leslie Smith is the 92 year old Labour activist and campaigner for the NHS (among other things) – he came to our attention when he spoke to the Labour Party conference in September – a war veteran who could speak from memory of the great depression of the 1920s, Smith reminded the Labour Party that the NHS was part of its DNA, its legacy and that it was worth campaigning for. He spoke for the poor and warned us that if we are not careful if we move away from a compassionate state and society, we will return to the days he remembered, pre-welfare state when real hunger, poverty and destitution savaged communities.
He is a real hero, the type of person who keeps us writing on these pages.

1. Pope Francis
Yep, I bet you didn’t see this coming – but this years Allthatsleft hero of 2014 is the Pope.
And this is why.
In a time when religions of all kinds are becoming increasingly intolerant, divisive, fundamental and just plain weird – Pope Francis has endeavoured to actually use his position to do genuine good. A clever man who is as interested in the social problems of ordinary people as he is in the unanswerable theological questions that plague the thoughts of most clerics, this year he has spoken out on a number of issues: on the economy, his belief that Market Forces do not have the answer to everything telling a delegation of peasants that: “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it, a view that caused Rush Limbaugh to call him a Marxist (he denied this, but went on to assert that he’d met many Marxists and some of them were very good people); on the environment, he chastised the world’s political leaders for not doing enough and has declared that in 2015, he wants to directly influence the UN and the Climate Change Summit in Paris, by putting together an edict based as much on science as religion that may well influence many of the world leaders who are reliant upon Catholic votes to actually do something; he has also worked hard to assist in the thawing of relations between Cuba and the US. Ok, on homosexuality, abortion and the history of the Church he still needs a bit of help, but on the whole, this Pope is a good one, and that is why he is our hero for 2014.

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