50 People Who Matter 2010

The New Statesman’s list of individuals with global influence and the power to change our world.


What do Lady Gaga and David Cameron have in common? Julian Assange and Steve Jobs? Jacob Zuma and Angelina Jolie? They all have world-changing potential. And they are new entries in our annual list of the individuals who have global influence – for good or ill.

The New Statesman 50 People Who Matter 2010 are:

1. (2) Rupert Murdoch
2. (1) Barack Obama
3. (-) Mahmoud Ahmedinijad
4. (10) Xi Jinping
5. (-) Steve Jobs
6. (26) Pope Benedict XVI
7. (24) Ashfaq Kayani
8. (12) Angela Merkel
9. (4) Eric Schmidt, Larry Page & Sergey Brin
10. (44) Hugo Chavez
11. (-) Binyamin Netanyahu
12. (12) David Petraeus
13. (-) Sarah Palin
14. (-) Craig Venter
15. (-) David Cameron
16. (13) Bill Gates
17. (-) Felipe Calderon
18. (-) Khaled Meshal
19. (25) Warren Buffett
20. (7) Vladimir Putin
21. (8) Osama bin Laden
22. (-) Angelina Jolie
23. (-) Julian Assange
24. (-) Lloyd Blankfein
25. (-) Hillary Clinton
26. (-) Mark Zuckerberg
27. (-) Ratan Tata
28. (-) Stephenie Meyer
29. (31) Sonia Gandhi
30. (-) James Cameron
31. (28) Ingvar Kamprad
32. (-) Stephen McIntyre
33. (-) Moqtada al-Sadr
34. (-) Aung San Suu Kyi
35. (-) Margaret Chan
36. (-) Jacob Zuma
37. (-) Bob Diamond
38. (35) Oprah Winfrey
39. (-) Paul Krugman
40. (36) Mohammed Yunus
41. (34) Simon Cowell
42. (-) Zaha Hadid
43. (22) Amartya Sen
44. (-) Lady Gaga
45. (6) Malalai Joya
46. (-) John Lasseter
47. (-) Julia Gillard
48. (-) Han Han
49. (14) Paul Kagame
50. (-) Caster Semenya

Previous year's ranking in brackets, with (-) denoting a new entry.

Entries compiled by Caroline Crampton, Ollie Cussen, George Eaton, Sophie Elmhirst, Mehdi Hasan, James Macintyre, Patrick Osgood, Nick Petrie, Duncan Robinson, Samira Shackle and Daniel Trilling.

All photos by Getty Images.

Photo: Getty Images
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When will the government take action to tackle the plight of circus animals?

Britain is lagging behind the rest of the world - and innocent animals are paying the price. 

It has been more than a year since the Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to passing legislation to impose a ban on the suffering of circus animals in England and Wales. How long does it take to get something done in Parliament?

I was an MP for more than two decades, so that’s a rhetorical question. I’m well aware that important issues like this one can drag on, but the continued lack of action to help stop the suffering of animals in circuses is indefensible.

Although the vast majority of the British public doesn’t want wild animals used in circuses (a public consultation on the issue found that more than 94 per cent of the public wanted to see a ban implemented and the Prime Minister promised to prohibit the practice by January 2015, no government bill on this issue was introduced during the last parliament.

A private member’s bill, introduced in 2013, was repeatedly blocked in the House of Commons by three MPs, so it needs a government bill to be laid if we are to have any hope of seeing this practice banned.

This colossal waste of time shames Britain, while all around the world, governments have been taking decisive action to stop the abuse of wild animals in circuses. Just last month, Catalonia’s Parliament overwhelmingly voted to ban it. While our own lawmakers dragged their feet, the Netherlands approved a ban that comes into effect later this year, as did Malta and Mexico. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, North America’s longest-running circus, has pledged to retire all the elephants it uses by 2018. Even in Iran, a country with precious few animal-welfare laws, 14 states have banned this archaic form of entertainment. Are we really lagging behind Iran?

The writing has long been on the wall. Only two English circuses are still clinging to this antiquated tradition of using wild animals, so implementing a ban would have very little bearing on businesses operating in England and Wales. But it would have a very positive impact on the animals still being exploited.

Every day that this legislation is delayed is another one of misery for the large wild animals, including tigers, being hauled around the country in circus wagons. Existing in cramped cages and denied everything that gives their lives meaning, animals become lethargic and depressed. Their spirits broken, many develop neurotic and abnormal behaviour, such as biting the bars of their cages and constantly pacing. It’s little wonder that such tormented creatures die far short of their natural life spans.

Watching a tiger jump through a fiery hoop may be entertaining to some, but we should all be aware of what it entails for the animal. UK laws require that animals be provided with a good quality of life, but the cruelty inherent in confining big, wild animals, who would roam miles in the wild, to small, cramped spaces and forcing them to engage in unnatural and confusing spectacles makes that impossible in circuses.

Those who agree with me can join PETA’s campaign to urge government to listen to the public and give such animals a chance to live as nature intended.


The Right Honourable Ann Widdecombe was an MP for 23 years and served as Shadow Home Secretary. She is a novelist, documentary maker and newspaper columnist.