Announcing the finalists for the ‘Frontbench MP or Peer of the Year’ award at the Pagefield Parliamentarian Awards with Dods

Monday 18th March

Being on the frontbench can be challenging, with these high-profile politicians often found defending the party line on the morning media round or managing complex legislation in Parliament. Their visibility means their every move is under more scrutiny, but the frontbench can also provide a fantastic platform to affect genuine change, land a message or hold the Government to account. 

Working with Dods, we are highlighting the excellent work of parliamentarians over the last year and have sought nominations from MPs, Parliamentary staff and the general public to help us celebrate the best of Westminster. The finalists for the ‘Frontbench MP or Peer of the Year’ award are below, with the winners to be announced during the Pagefield Parliamentarian Awards reception on 23rd April. 

Bridget Phillipson, Shadow Education Secretary  

Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson has had a big year, campaigning on the Raac scandal, childcare reform and mental health. Most notably, she announced that Labour plans to remove VAT exemption from private schools, sparking attention from the media and backlash from the independent school sector, but she has held firm. 

She has said that tax breaks for private schools cannot be justified and that her motivation as Shadow Education Secretary is her belief that she doesn’t think life “should come down to luck”. She has also said that she believes the “scale and ambition” of Labour’s childcare reforms will compare with the creation of the NHS. 

Tom Tugendhat, Minister of State for Security  

Minister of State for Security Tom Tugendhat has been a steady and practical presence in the role this year following five years as chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. He is widely regarded as particularly well-suited for his brief given his experience serving in the Iraq War and Afghanistan War. 

As Security Minister in 2023, he has called on Mark Zuckerberg to introduce safeguards before switching to end-to-end encryption on Facebook to stop the company from empowering child abusers; taken action to tackle fraud; visited Iraq, India, Kenya and Kurdistan; and gave a statement at the UN Security Council making clear the UK stands with Israel in defending itself against terror. 

Jonathan Reynolds, Shadow Business and Trade Secretary  

Shadow Business and Trade Secretary Jonathan Reynolds has continued his slow and steady work to transform Labour’s relationship with business, resulting in huge demand for Labour’s Business Forum and conference in 2023. Business leaders have publicly switched their support to the Labour Party, including a former CBI president who was once “skills tsar” for David Cameron. 

Reynolds has sought to reassure industry, describing Labour as the “party of business” whilst making clear that Labour will be the most interventionist government for a generation. 

Michelle Donelan, Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary  

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan began 2023 as Culture Secretary but ended it hosting representatives from more than 100 tech companies, countries and organisations at the UK-hosted AI safety summit. 

As DSIT Secretary, she sealed the UK’s association to the Horizon and Copernicus research programmes. And in 2023, she oversaw the Online Safety Bill’s passage into law to protect children from online harms. 

Lord David Cameron, Foreign Secretary  

Former Prime Minister David Cameron returned to government in November 2023 as Foreign Secretary in a surprise appointment and stunning political comeback, accepting a peerage to do so. 

Since then, he has visited Ukraine to reiterate the UK’s support, promising “military support for… however long it takes”; visited Washington DC and urged the West to seize and not just freeze Russian central bank assets; and stated that “true security and stability for Israel “requires there to be a state for Palestine as well”. 

Wes Streeting, Shadow Health Secretary  

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting made his mark in 2023, declaring that the NHS “must modernise or die” in a sign that he is unafraid to deliver challenging messages in the health brief. In 2023 he also published his memoir, ‘One Boy, Two Bills and a Fry Up’. 

He has said “the NHS is a service not a shrine” and has pledged to reform services to ensure they are more efficient – following his own experiences battling cancer in recent years. His aim is to create the “healthiest generation that ever lived”. 

The winners will be decided from a final shortlist judged by our panel of leading political journalists. 

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