I've done books, speeches, gaffes, journalists and blogs, so as a logical conclusion to the political Top 10s series, here's my list of the politicians I most admire from home and abroad.
1. Sir Winston Churchill. Okay, so he was a Conservative and an imperialist, and I am neither. But maybe you don't choose your political heroes, maybe they choose you, and try as I might, I can't put the man who saved the country from Nazi tyranny anywhere other than at Number One. Yes, he had his faults. For a start, he was pissed for most of the Second World War, which puts Charles Kennedy's problems into their proper perspective. But sentimental old sod that I am, hearing those "fight them on the beaches" speeches still brings tears to my eyes. "We will never surrender."
2. Denis Healey. A theme of lost leaders run through this Top 10, and if Churchill was the greatest Prime Minister we ever had, Denis was surely the greatest we never had. It is the enduring tragedy of the British left that he didn't get the top job instead of James Callaghan in 1976. Had he done so, he might have taken on and beaten the unions himself instead of waiting for Mrs Thatcher to do it, and thereby relegated her to a footnote in Tory history. The man with the legendary hinterland, his autobiography, "The Time of My Life" is the best political book of the last 30 years.
3. Anthony Crosland. If Healey was the left's lost leader, then Crosland was its greatest thinker. He was never a realistic candidate for the leadership, but he is regarded by many Whitehall mandarins as the best departmental minister of all time. His seminal work "The Future of Socialism" in 1956 became the creed of the so-called "revisionists" who aimed to adapt socialism to modern circumstances and was cited by Tony Blair as an inspiration behind New Labour. Personally, I think the entire Blair project would have made this great egalitarian turn sharply in his grave.
4. David Lloyd George. One of three genuine radicals to occupy 10 Downing Street in the 20th century - Attlee and Thatcher, in their different ways, were the others - the "Welsh Wizard" turned on Britain's antiquated class system with unparalleled ferocity. As possibly the greatest reforming Chancellor of all time, his Budgets did as much to lay the foundations of the welfare state as Beveridge's famous report thirty years later. The first PM from a genuinely working-class background, he sadly fell prey to the corruptions of office and a cash-for-honours scandal. Plus ca change...
5. Mikhail Gorbachev. I was a bit of Kremlinologist in my younger days, deriving endless fascination from the machinations of the Soviet Politburo. Mikhail Gorbachev was at least 10 years younger than the rest of the Russian gerontocracy, but he sliced through them like a knife through butter to succeed Konstantin Chernenko in 1983. He then proceded to revolutionise the Soviet Union and with it world politics. Admirers of Reagan and Thatcher like to claim they won the Cold War. Wrong. It was Gorbachev's political courage that really brought down the Berlin Wall.
6. Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I. Okay, so the Vatican City State is not really a country, and the Pope is not really a political leader, but I had to get him in somewhere. This was the man who was pontiff for 33 days before he was murdered by an unholy alliance of freemasons, mafiosi and corrupt cardinals. The church lost a humble, holy man who might well have abandoned the Vatican Palace and lived in a Roman slum as a genuinely prophetic Christian witness to the world. Instead, Catholicism fell into the clutches of the hardliners Wojtyla and Ratzinger. It has not recovered.
7. Bishop Abel Muzorewa. Most people would think of Bishop Desmond Tutu as the greatest African churchman of recent times but I had tremendous sympathy for this brave little bishop who briefly led "Zimbabwe-Rhodesia" in 1978-79. Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo resfused to accept the so-called "internal settlement," and the British staged a conference to find a political solution that included them. When Mugabe won the resulting election we congratulated ourselves on a smooth handover to black majority rule. White Zimbabweans who knew Mugabe better disagreed, and they were right.
8. Martin Luther King Jnr. Second only to Churchill among the ranks of 20th century orators, his speeches inspired a generation not just within the American civil rights movement but around the world. I love the analogy he drew between arbitrary musical categorisations and the artificial divisions within humanity. "Today on this program you will hear gospel, and rhythm, and blues, and jazz - but all those are just labels. We know that music is music." Died a hero's death, but like Lloyd George, his personal life did not always reflect his high Christian ideals.
9. Henry John Temple, Lord Palmerston. My favourite 19th century Prime Minister, his famous last words were "die, my dear doctor - that's the last thing I will do!" But as well as this memorable quote he also made the definitive statement of British foreign policy in the 19th century: "We have no perpetual allies and no eternal enemies. Our interests are perpetual and eternal and these we support." His words still have resonance today. Would that Tony Blair could have approached the Iraq issue on the basis of whether British interests, rather than perpetual alliances, were at stake.
10. Michael Heseltine. The second of two names on my list who should have been Prime Minister but weren't, the Tories made a catastrophic error in overlooking Tarzan. He'd have been a great Prime Minister and would have weaned his party off the absurd Little Englander mentality that contributed to its three successive election defeats. Should have been rewarded for his political courage in getting rid of Thatcher when it was clear she had become an electoral liability. Instead, his fate was to be largely vilified by a party still hopelessly in thrall to its defeated heroine.
And that's it. If I could have chosen my Prime Ministers of the past 30 years, they would have read something like: Healey 1976-1983. Heseltine 1983-1992. Smith 1992-94. Brown 1994-to date. We would now be a much more civilised, social democratic country, instead of one where so-called Labour governments dance to the increasingly shrill tones of the Murdoch press. But for Gordon, at least, it is not too late.....