On New Year's Day, Liberal Democrat voice launched their annual search for the Liberal Voice of the Year poll, chosen from a shortlist of people who are not members of the Liberal Democrats.And, thanks to some internet wizardry, we get preferential voting this year. The poll closes on Sunday, so make sure you have your say if you haven't already by voting here.
The shortlist is made up of nominations submitted via the Lib Dem Voice readers' survey. Again, it is shamefully low in female nominees. Putting a photo up of Naomi Long MP when the actual nominee is the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland does not extract us from a pretty embarrassing hole. I have to take my share of the responsibility for that - not as a member of the Lib Dem Voice team, and this is not a criticism of Stephen Tall - but as a blogger. I obviously voted in the poll, but I didn't do much to drum up any potential nominations for women. This will not be the case next year, believe me. Although there have been a number of female winners, like Shami Chakrabarti and Aung San Suu Kyi, there have been a pathetic number of female nominees.
I hope that the sole female nominee will win this year. She certainly deserves to. Malala Yousafzai is an example to everyone. We all stand up for our liberal beliefs, but it's really easy to do so. All that happens to us is that we get the odd bit of abuse online from other party's trolls (hello to any cybernats reading this) or we get shouted at on a few doorsteps. Not pleasant, but we're not in any danger.
All Malala wanted was to go to school. To have the same rights to education as a male child. That doesn't always happen in Pakistan and it takes a huge amount of courage to speak out on these issues. If you do, you face a real danger of violent repercussions. Malala is not much older than my daughter, but already she has suffered a critical injury for her beliefs. She was shot in the head by the Taliban in October and it's amazing that she's still alive. She's now in this country and was recently discharged, albeit temporarily, from hospital in Birmingham. You don't get much more liberal causes than advancing education and you don't get much braver than this 14 year old. My first preference was never going to go anywhere else.
I can't actually remember the exact order of my preferences. Hacked off and Leveson were near the top. 38 Degrees were higher than they otherwise might have been because of marks taken off other nominees. The Alliance Party has stood up for liberal values in some areas this year, but fell short on equal marriage, so they were mid table. Obama was mid-table too - extra judicial killings and drone attacks are not examples of liberal behaviour despite his many attributes. Sharing the bottom were Sam Bowman and Rowan Williams. In fact it was the Archbishop on the bottom not just because of equal marriage but because of that utter mess on women bishops.
Last year, many people were surprised that Mark Littlewood won. If you don't want to see a repeat of such an unexpected result, you know what to do....