Tom Richmond: Will they still be there this time next year?

THIS has been a momentous – and unexpected year for both Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. The former became Deputy Prime Minister; the latter took over the reins of the Labour Party from Gordon Brown.

In this regard, both men could be regarded as Yorkshire's political "stars" of 2010 – even though they find themselves on differing sides of the spending cuts that will dominate domestic politics for a decade.

Yet, with politics so toxic – as exemplified by the poisonous nature of the tuition fee debates – Clegg and Miliband are both certain to be political "faces" of 2011.

It should be beneficial to this region that two of the country's three party leaders represent Yorkshire constituencies, although neither man has, in my opinion, done enough to highlight the extent to which this area's prospects continue to be compromised by spending settlements that favour London and the home counties.

However, neither man goes into the next year in a position of strength. Clegg will continue to be haunted by his decision to renege on his pre-election promise not to rise tuition fees, though I do believe that the error was not explaining, clearly enough, during the election that a coalition Government would render all manifesto commitments null and void.

Likewise, Miliband's stuttering start to the Labour leadership has played into the hands of all those who supported his elder brother David. It is a measure of desperation that he appears to be recruiting two national newspaper journalists to run his office when he has been an outspoken critic of political "spin" and the unhealthy influence of the likes of Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's spokesman, and David Cameron's under-fire confidant Andy Coulson.

Furthermore, Miliband had to use his leader's press conference this week, in a bid to assert his authority, to comment on The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing, and possible political parallels. There are none – apart from the fact that reality TV contestants are probably more respected, and better role models, than politicians.

Both also fall into the category of Yorkshire MPs to watch. For, in a year's time, I will be surprised if both Clegg and Miliband are leading their parties in December 2011. One of them will, I believe, fall by the wayside. Who will go first?

AT least the next-to-useless Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson had the courtesy to resign when his department's poor communication left thousands of motorists stranded overnight during snow storms.

I hope this region's transport bosses might follow suit. After the latest flurry of complaints over "on time" trains that simply did not turn up in Leeds, Northern Rail's chief operating officer Steve Butcher says: "Unfortunately, we have experienced some difficulties; these have now been resolved and passengers will receive consistent, accurate and up-to-date train running information."

Yet this is precisely what his company said in January when its inept communications left passengers waiting endlessly for trains that never turned up when the station announcements were saying that they were "on time".

How many 'final chances' do rail bosses deserve?

ON the subject of complacency, do you remember when the Tories accused the then Government of not doing enough to help the 2007 flooding victims?

I do. And, for once, I also share Hull MP Diana Johnson's frustration when she spoke out about how areas, like Hull, remain an insurance no-go area. Yet, despite the Conservative's urgency when in opposition, Defra minister Richard Benyon appears to be dragging his feet – when challenged by Johnson this issue, he spoke about a "post-2013 statement of principles" when "there will be an environment in which insurance is still available".

That's great news - it's just a shame residents in flood-hit areas will have had to wait six years from when their homes were ruined.

INSTEAD of another costly NHS shake-up, how about the Government doing the basics first – and making it possible for patients to book appointments with their GP?

I tried and failed this week. When I eventually got through after 25 minutes, I was told there were no appointments available for that evening, or the next morning, unless the doctors decided to release some more slots later in the day.

The receptionist had no idea when this would be so. "Just keep ringing back," she said.

I should have known better. This is the same doctors' surgery in Yeadon, near Leeds, that Gordon Brown highlighted as a beacon of excellence during the election. And one where GPs will, shortly, take on additional budgetary responsibilities when, frankly, they should be focusing on their inept customer care.

YOU have to admire Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's honesty. The BlackBerry is evidently the "must-have" gadget for politicians who like to look important. They're also appearing, with increasing frequency, on the expense accounts of politicians.

Yet Clarke rumbled these egomaniacs with this admission: "I had a BlackBerry for a day, but I returned it because it was only good for the cricket scores."

Presumably this is what his colleagues are using their BlackBerries for. If so, shouldn't they be footing the bill?

CALL me a cynic, but did the Lib Dems bring forward the Oldham and Saddleworth by-election because 1,200 students studying at the Huddersfield University campus in Oldham will still be on holiday when voting takes place on January 13?

FINALLY, what does it say about the lack of moral fibre in contemporary politics when respected Tory backbencher Douglas Carswell asserts that "many constitutional experts regard honoured promises as a highly unusual innovation"? Discuss.