Posted by: pascoesabido | November 25, 2008

PSA Award Winners 2008 Press Release – Anne Owers

University of Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 7RU

News from the PSA

Release Date: Midday

25th November 2008

The Political Studies Association Recognise Anne Owers for Setting the Political Agenda

This year’s annual Political Studies Association Award for Setting the Political Agenda has gone to Anne Owers. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons has continuously opposed government plans of mass-imprisonment whilst ensuring human rights are upheld across the prison network through her hard-hitting and accurate reports.

Other awards went to London Mayor Boris Johnson (Politician of the Year), the Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable (Parliamentarian of the Year) and Labour MP Frank Field (Backbencher of the Year), all of whom have joined Anne Owers in holding the government accountable.

Steve Richards of The Independent was named Political Journalist of the Year, while the Political Editor of Channel 4 News, Gary Gibbon, was named Political Broadcaster of the Year. The PSA Judges’ award went to political documentary maker Michael Cockerell.

All results are derived from nominations received by the PSA’s 1750 Politics professors, lecturers and researchers, with the final decisions being made by a seven-person judging panel. This year Dr Katharine Adeney of Sheffield University chaired the group, consisting of academics, politicians and journalists. In making the awards, the judges noted the following:

Setting the Political Agenda – ANNE OWERS
“Anne Owers was a surprise choice as Chief Inspector of Prisons, but has continued the pioneering, radical work she undertook for Justice, when unafraid to do battle with the government. Her opposition to the continuous building of prisons and increases in the prison population may not be populist, but is always based on reasoned, constructive argument and strong principle. Anne Owers has consistently highlighted the failings of mass imprisonment in terms of recidivism, mental illness and other problems, and her opposition to titan prisons has been an important contribution to an ongoing debate.”

Politician of the Year – BORIS JOHNSON
“Boris Johnson scored a famous victory in the 2008 contest for London Mayor. Taking on a formidable opponent in Ken Livingstone, he ran a remarkable campaign which mobilised the electorate, reflected in a high turnout. Boris Johnson infused the contest with a series of imaginative ideas (a point conceded by his main opponent); ran a campaign based on positive politics rather than negative or personal slurs and returned lots of 1997-2005 Conservative ‘deserters’ to the party.”

Parliamentarian of the year – VINCE CABLE
“His observation that ‘The House has noticed the Prime Minister’s remarkable transformation in the past few weeks from Stalin to Mr Bean’ was one of the most hilarious moments witnessed in parliament; witty, biting and a potent mix of the absurd but true. As Simon Hoggart wrote in the Guardian, “A great howl of laughter seemed to fall from the very ceiling’.”

Backbencher of the Year – FRANK FIELD
“Frank Field was deemed Backbencher of the Year by the judges following his persistent and intelligent pressuring of his own government to address the problem created by the abolition of the 10 pence tax rate. Consistent with his broader efforts to assist the low-paid, Frank Field’s demands for compensatory government action proved successful; a fine example of how sensible, forceful backbench campaigning can make a significant difference to government policy.”

Steve Richards’ columns in the Independent were praised for their “proper, fair-minded analysis of the problems created by – and afflicting – Gordon Brown, offering refreshingly insightful reading amid the mass of superficial writing on the subject.” Gary Gibbon’s contributions to Channel 4 news were noted for their “consistently high quality; the senior broadcast journalists on the jury spoke so highly of Gibbon’s determination to cover stories with a depth and precision not always apparent on inferior news programmes.”

The wealth of documentaries produced by Michael Cockerell were praised for “containing the mass of substance and insight necessary to interest regular politics watchers, whilst also being sufficiently fascinating to bring in a much broader audience of viewers.”

There was also widespread recognition for Britain’s academics, as Tony Travers (Political Studies Communication Award), Professor Vernon Bogdanor (Sir Isaiah Berlin Prize for Lifetime Contribution to Political Studies), Professor the Lord Norton (Special Recognition), and Anne Phillips (Special Recognition) also received awards.

The lunchtime event, hosted by the Today programme’s Jim Naughtie, also heard that PSA members had, in an Ipsos Mori poll judged President Franklin Roosevelt as overwhelmingly the best post-war President. However, since FDR only squeezed into the reckoning by a matter of months much attention was focussed on second, third and fourth place which were judged to be Bill Clinton, John Kennedy and Harry Truman, respectively. In joint last place were George W. Bush and Gerald Ford


Notes to editors:
The Political Studies Association (PSA) is the leading organisation in the UK dedicated to developing and promoting the study of politics. For further information please contact Ivor Gaber on ivorgaber[at] or 07730 955690 or Pascoe Sabido on pascoe.sabido[at] or 07969665189.
Visit the PSA website at


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