I thought long and hard about this one. At least three of the people on this list are people I worked closely alongside in the Lobby and doubtless some will think that's all a bit incestuous. However most of my nominations either retired before my time, worked in fields of political journalism far removed from my own, or are sadly no longer with us.
The one thing they all have in common is that they were never seduced into becoming mouthpieces for the government of the day, or dependent on them for stories. That is one way of doing political journalism, and it can be a richly rewarding one for those who practice it. But it is not mine.
1. Hugo Young. Without question in my view, the greatest political commentator of the past 40 years and a great loss not only to the profession but also to British public life. His column on the death of Dr David Kelly, written shortly before his own death, will stick in my memory for ever. Cutting to the real core of the tragedy in a way Lord Hutton never managed, he said that Kelly's death illustrated "the dynamic that is unleashed when the Prime Minister's sainted reputation becomes the core value his country has to defend." He commanded public opinion in a way no other commentator has managed in my lifetime, and I genuinely believe that, had he lived, the Blair administration would by now have been consigned to the history books.
2. Anthony Bevins. Most of his best work was done by the time I joined the Lobby, but as the inaugural political editor of the Independent he helped shape a newspaper-of-record which, for a time, filled the gap in the market left by Murdoch's dumbing-down of The Times. Is justifiably remembered for asking Mrs Thatcher a killer question about the NHS, namely whether she had ever used it. It was sad that he spent his final years working for a crap paper like the Express.
3. John Cole. What more can be said? Virtually created the role of BBC political editor in its current reporter-cum-pundit format but never forgot that the reporting role ultimately came first. In 1990, Mrs Thatcher said she would "fight on and fight to win" after being forced into a second leadership ballot against Michael Heseltine. Cole duly reported her line but said he was keeping 2pc of his mind open to the possibility that she would in fact throw in the towel. She did.
4. David Hencke. In my opinion the best reporter of his generation, political or otherwise. Secured the Neil Hamilton scoop which seriously damaged John Major's Tories, then showed his even-handedness by uncovering the Peter Mandelson home loan affair. Had Tom Baldwin been able to follow Hencke's example and use his considerable talents for mischief-making against both parties instead of allowing himself to become a tool of Alastair Campbell, he too would be up there.
5. Alan Watkins. I grew up with Watkins' peerless Observer column and a large part of my fascination with politics and politicians came from him. I would guess that, in common with Trollope and Roy Jenkins, he saw politics as essentially the interplay of personalities seeking preferment rather than as a battle of ideas, a worldview which was brilliantly reflected in his writing. Was once absurdly sued by Michael Meacher after questioning the left-winger's working-class credentials.
6. Peter Oborne. One of the great iconoclasts of political journalism, Oborne is often regarded as some sort of Tory mirror-image of Campbell, about whom he wrote a memorable biography. But don't be fooled - the bucolic Old Etonian may be a right-winger, but his career in journalism to date shows he is nobody's poodle. Most rate the Campbell biog as his masterpiece, but I would nominate his pamphlet on the Government's hypocritical dealings with Robert Mugabe.
7. Elinor Goodman. I never really got on with Elinor but it was impossible not to admire her refusal to get sucked into the New Labour propaganda machine, especially as a woman of the centre-left. Her contributions to No 10 press conferences and lobby briefings were memorably waspish and her reporting incisive. A shame she never got the BBC job - she'd have done it with far more brio than Robin Oakley and far more objectivity than Andy Marr.
8. Andrew Roth. A one-off who carved his own unique niche in the profession, Roth is included on account of his exhaustive profiles of MPs which, for decades, have been an essential research tool. Also writes most of the obits of obscure former MPs which appear in the Guardian, ensuring some sort of memorial for those whom the slings and arrows of political fortune have left behind. One of two regional lobby men on my list, Roth was also Pol Ed of the Manchester Evening News.
9. Andrew Rawnsley. A slightly reluctant nomination, as in his closeness to New Labour he has on occasions come very close to crossing the line between journalism and propaganda. But there is no-one to rival the sheer elegance of his writing and he edges out Don Macintyre as the must-read chronicler of the Blair-Brown "project." His Observer column is to modern-day politics what Alan Watkins' was to the 70s and 80s - simply the best big picture summary of the week's events.
10. Ian Hernon. As well as being a fine reporter in his own right, this Glaswegian gets in for his amazing record in tutelary political journalism. In 80s and 90s, he ran a Lobby news agency that turned out numerous stars of the future, notably Joe Murphy (Evening Standard) and Roland Watson (The Times). Some claim they owed their success to Hernon's bizarre initiation rituals which allegedly involved consuming a half-pint or equivalent in every one of Westminster's 17 bars.
As to those big names I haven't included....you can draw your own conclusions. Suffice to say that too many of the big beasts of political journalism over the past 10 years ended up by getting slightly too close to New Labour, and like Harry Evans, my definition of news is that it's what the Government wants covered up, not what it wants out in the open.
At the end of the day, what do Messrs Kavanagh, White and Marr care about my opinions? Probably not a lot. But I will say this. If I had been nominating the ten most courteous men in political journalism, all three would have been included.