Voices: The Top 10 falls from grace

Voices: The Top 10 falls from grace

This one started with Rudy Giuliani, the former Republican mayor of New York. As Tom Doran said, it was once assumed that he would be president one day. Now he is reduced to spouting gibberish as Donald Trump’s lackey, no longer even the former president’s personal lawyer, as his licence to practise has been suspended.

1. Satan. The details are hazy, but some interpretations of the Bible and the Torah hold that he was an angel who got above himself and was cast out of heaven. Nominated by John Peters, Arieh Kovler, Adam Behr, Dwarf Mongoose and Richard Morris.

2. Themistocles. Saved Greece from the Persian empire in 480 BC. Six years later the Athenians ostracised him, and he ended up in exile serving the same Persians he once defeated. Thanks to Graham Kirby.

3. Maximilien Robespierre. Hero of the democratic values of the French revolution, before he became the chief prosecutor of the Reign of Terror and then a victim thereof. From John Peters and David Paxton.

4. Charles Stewart Parnell. Nominated by Ted Morris. Brilliant politician who held the balance of power in the British House of Commons as leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party in 1885, but who destroyed his career by trying to promote that of his lover’s husband. “The party split, the balance of power was lost – and with it, the dream of Irish home rule by parliamentary reform,” said James Dinsdale.

5. Philippe Petain. Hero of the Great War who served as head of the collaborationist French government in the Second World War. Nominated by Tom H, Paul Frame, Robert Wright and Robert Edward John. “Doesn’t get much higher, then lower, than him,” said Adam Brown.

6. Winston Churchill in 1945. Thanks to John Peters for suggesting the unusual case of a war hero who remained respected, but was not trusted to administer the peace – at least, not until Clement Attlee had had a go.

7. Mother Teresa. Before Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu was canonised in 2016, two of her critics, Aroup Chatterjee and Christopher Hitchens, gave evidence against her to the Vatican. Hitchens said: “She was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women.” Thanks to Clifford Smout.

8. Nick Clegg. Brief beneficiary of Cleggmania during the 2010 election campaign; quickly brought low by breaking his pledge not to increase tuition fees after forming a coalition government with David Cameron. Now works for another organisation in decline. From John Peters, Ian Moules and Richard Cubitt.

9. Shami Chakrabarti. Lauded for her work at Liberty, including opposing Tony Blair’s plan to detain terrorist suspects for 90 days, she then revealed herself to be a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. She carried out an uncritical inquiry into antisemitism in the Labour Party shortly before accepting a peerage from Corbyn. Nominated by Paul T Horgan, Glasgow Blue, Prince of Salerno and John Duffield.

10. Aung San Suu Kyi. Under saintly house arrest for ages, she finally became leader of Myanmar in 2016. Hopes for liberal democracy were disappointed and she became implicated in the oppression of the Rohingya people before she was overthrown in a coup last year. Nominated by Eliza Ecclestone, David Wigfield and Oliver Johnson. “Nobel Peace Prize winner to apologist for genocide,” said Robert Wright.

Measuring the distance between height of approval to depths of disdain is an inexact science. Lots of nominations for the “fall” bit, so the deciding factor tended to be the saintliness of the previous status. Hence nominations for Michael Jackson, Rolf Harris, Jimmy Savile, OJ Simpson, Oscar Pistorius, Vidkun Quisling, Jayson Blair and Fred Goodwin were not accepted.

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Honourable mention for Joe Ainsworth, who nominated Will Smith: “If it is possible to have your fall from grace minutes before your crowning glory then Smith lamping Chris Rock at the Oscars then receiving the best actor award is worth a mention.”

And winner of the “there’s always one” award is Levant Johnson, who nominated Anakin Skywalker.

Next week: Members of the public famous for 15 minutes.

Coming soon: Algernons, such as Biggles’s trusty sidekick (after the Top 10 extinct boys’ names).

Your suggestions please, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or by email to