When Victorians went to the polls this year, Liberal Party opposition leader Ted Baillieu had some work to do. He had to live down his Liberal Party presidency during the Kennett era, defend his personal wealth and transform his party from a disorganised rabble to a disorganised rabble that looked like a well-oiled legislative machine. During the campaign he sang an Elvis number, emerged from the water wearing only Speedos for the cameras, stayed on message, deftly handled a potential public dispute with his mother-in-law, managed to present as a regular family man despite his pedigree breeding, and eventually led his party to an honourable election defeat. For managing to convince everyone that he ran a good campaign – and doing a hell of a lot better than the other state Liberal leaders who have faced elections in the last 12 months — Ted Baillieu is this year’s Crikey Opposition Leader of the Year.

Honourable mention: David Cameron, British conservative party leader, for bringing the Tory party back to respectability so that the first time in a long time one can actually imagine Labor’s reign ending.

 2005 Winner: Former Opposition Leader Kim Beazley

Peter Fray

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