It has been a long ten years. Let's be specific: it's been a long ten years for anyone who's spent precious minutes online, scrolling past screaming tirades on timelines or in comments sections. In the UK, we fired up the decade under the rule of a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition that handily reneged on its only main pledge to young voters (opposing any rise in university tuition fees). We've ended it being told that people are sick of experts, tired of politicians being held to account and that, somehow, teens are dumb for skipping school to protest about the climate crisis. Behold, the very worst of the worst.
1. Crippling state and corporate inaction on climate change
There's about a decade left to stop fucking around. We… genuinely don’t know how else to say this, but a quest for eternal growth and profit will kill us all. The planet cannot take it.
2. David Cameron’s hubris
History will remember David Cameron unkindly for calling and then losing a reductive referendum that gave us a constitutional crisis. But let’s not forget how he also detoxified the Conservative party’s image enough to win an election, so that he could unleash a decade of hell based on faulty economics. Delightful!
Beyond reproach, basically. Not to be confused with the real faith followed by Muslims around the world either.
4. Dominic Cummings
More like Dominic Cunning amirite? This is the guy with a Wordpress and gilet who gave us “Take Back Control” and now “Get Brexit Done”, snappy slogans with little meaning beyond duping people in the service of a right-wing political project.
5. George Osborne
The architect of Tory austerity. Has the pallid complexion of a corpse rolled up in your nan’s white lace curtains, and the disposition to match. After all, it takes a lot to engineer a policy so brutal it’s been linked to the deaths of 120,000 people.
6. Transphobic feminists
From mainstream newspaper columnists inciting moral panic, to Mumsnet members lapping up said panic, trans-exclusionary radical feminists (to furnish them with their full title) have further fuelled the UK’s reputation as a hotbed of intolerance. Quite honestly one of the most insidious phenomena, creating fear in a marginalised community, sicked up by this decade!
7. Theresa May
She will be remembered for a number of things: flopping the Brexit withdrawal, "sTrOnG aNd StAbLe" in 2017, the horror dance. But the hostile environment policy she instigated while Home Secretary tops the list as most egregious. Engineered to make it as difficult as possible for migrants to stay in the UK, the policy led to the wrongful deportations – and in some cases, deaths – of political refugees, families and rough sleepers, not to mention the Windrush scandal.
8. Nick Clegg
For about five minutes in the run-up to the 2010 election, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was that bitch. Shame, then, that shortly after entering into a coalition government with the Tories, he did a complete U-turn on his headline manifesto promise to abolish tuition fees. Never, and we can’t stress this enough, trust a Lib Dem.
9. Male entitlement
Tarana Burke's #MeToo was a defining movement of the decade, ringing alarm bells about sexual consent across the world, and starting a revolution against male power and entitlement. Some men have been upset about this because they have had to change their standup routines.
Only took us a few decades to realise this incredible human invention was also choking the planet's waterways and wildlife.
11. Jeremy Hunt
In no particular order: he waged a war against junior doctors, caused the first doctor strike in 40 years, and – bonus! – in 2010 wrongfully said that hooliganism led to the Hillsborough disaster, where 96 people died.
12. Serco and G4S
“Controversies Surrounding G4S” has its own Wikipedia page. Channel 4 investigations unearthed sexual abuse allegations made against outsourcing giant Serco. Meanwhile the Guardian and BBC reported on abuse of incarcerated children and adults in facilities run by private security company G4S. Father Jimmy Mubenga died on an immigration flight overseen by G4S guards in 2010. Proper trash, this lot.
13. Mark Zuckerberg
Nothing says ‘death throes of late stage capitalism’ like Mark Zuckerberg (who clearly hasn’t slept since 2007) demonstrating Facebook Live by “smoking meats” in a grape coloured t-shirt, struggling to get a normal sentence out. Would be funny if he didn't have access to billions of people's data.
14. The gig economy
Shouts to the services that make your life that little bit easier, some rich CEO a hell of a lot richer, and workers rights near non-existent. Cool!
15. Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council
Considered so inept in the aftermath of the horrifying Grenfell Tower fire that they were asked not to lead survivor care in the tragedy's aftermath. A 2019 investigation revealed the council could have used some of its £129 million property sale profits to increase the Grenfell Tower budget.
16. Red meat
The World Health Organisation told us that processed meat can = cancer in 2015, so. That, on top of veganism’s iconique rebrand, means even your dad enjoys Quorn sausages now. I'm gonna tell my kids that this was a sausage roll.
In a way, it’s poetic that a decade defined by a global call for action to be taken to address the climate crisis was bookended by BP causing the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, and US President Donald Trump easing safety regulations adopted in the wake of the disaster.
Nothing else really to say about them besides why can't Britain change laws to properly empower renters? Fine, that was an extra thing.
19. Paul Dacre
Former Daily Mail editor responsible for some of the most heinous front pages in tabloid history, now spending his salad days ingloriously beefing with his successor at the paper, Geordie Greig. Fond of the word “cunt”.
20. David Duckenfield, match commander at Hillsborough
Yes, the ex-South Yorkshire police chief superintendent was found not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter this year. But right after the disaster at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989, he said fans had "forced open" a gate, leading to the fatal crush that would kill 96 Liverpool FC fans. In 2015 Duckenfield admitted lying about that – he'd ordered the gate to be opened.
21. The “sex game gone wrong” defence
There is a difference between accidents occurring during consensual BDSM play due to lack of awareness and men literally getting away with murder. Read a book.
22. Islamophobic women with huge public platforms
Real and honest journalism may have been dying a death this decade but rest assured the wives of politicians have pocketed their modest six-figure salaries keeping Islamophobia alive. The lesser-known Katie Hopkins of the journo world, Sarah Vine, was joined by Britain First’s Jayda Fransen, who wouldn’t even let a jail sentence stop her!
23. Tommy Robinson
What a decade Tommy's had. He spent the first bit of it touring the country’s car parks whipping up fear of Muslims. Then he was kind of over, but managed to reinvent himself as a journalist (???), and got arrested for contempt of court – risking the collapse of the trial of a grooming gang. The fact that he’s still A Thing in 2019 is an indictment of the place that social media has brought our politics to.
24. Nigel Farage
Has still not clocked the hilarity of claiming an "independence day" for Britain, a country that once subjugated the former colonies until they had to fight for their own, real independence. You can stop the Brexit Party sending your post to your house by going to thebrexitparty.org/stop-mailings.
25. Tony Blair
Babe we're soo sorry but don’t think they’re going to let u be PM again :( Lucky for you there's no crime of aggression under English law hehe :))
We don’t really need to explain why Rolf Harris, Jimmy Savile, Max Clifford, Stuart Talbart and everyone else uncovered by Operation Yewtree are on this list when they’re literally the definition of villains.
27. Jacob Rees-Mogg
For a fussy little man who likes things just so, JRM sure does dress like shit.
28. All tummy tea influencers
Hate to sound like Jameela Jamil, but selling tummy tea to vulnerable young women is the devil’s work. Girls/young women: the women who post the tea are not actually drinking the tea.
29. Alexander Nix
Cambridge Analytica’s former CEO and resident blond praying mantis, caught on undercover camera boasting about his ability to rig elections. Watch out before he harvests all your Facebook data.
30. Prince Andrew
Imagine your legacy being unable to sweat via being bessie mates with a convicted sex offender.
Sometimes it is a fine line between a heroic deed and a villainous one.
32. Tax avoiders!
From Jimmy Carr’s declaration that he made, “a terrible error of judgement” to the massive Panama Papers scandal exposing secret offshore tax havens, the last decade was full of multi-millionaires desperate to hoard their wealth rather than just… help fund schools or hospitals.
33. Katie Hopkins and/or Piers Morgan
Two sides of the same rancid coin, these interchangeable TV personalities-turned-contrarian careerists are prime examples of how social media's evolution from ‘place to share personality quizzes’ to ‘platform for everyone’s equally important opinions’ was the worst tech development since Little Britain: The Video Game.
34. Mary Bale AKA Cat Bin Woman
Captured on CCTV for an inexplicable act of cruelty (in her words: “moment of madness”) to Lola the cat. In 2010, this was the kind of stuff that people got outraged over – simpler times.
35. Adnan Ahmed
Glaswegian pickup artist jailed for threatening and abusive behaviour towards women after secretly recording them. The absolute dregs of PUA culture. That’s assuming, of course, if you can call a group of men this loathsome a “culture”.
36. Counterfeit benzos
Dangerous, difficult-to-spot and still contributing to teen drug addiction numbers, fake benzos – like the misuse of real ones – should be left lingering in this decade.
37. Hetty Douglas
38. Christopher Chope
A Conservative throwback predating the dinosaurs, best known for trying to block bills that would have 1) pardoned Alan Turing; 2) criminalised revenge evictions and; 3) made upskirting illegal. File under “MPs from the 1800s”. Infamous after coming last in an episode of Come Dine with Me, Marsh embodied what can only be described as the worst loser in the history of reality TV.
39. Michael "Chaldish" Griffiths, off Love Island 2019
Fantastic catchphrase, but breaking the heart of the nation’s sweetheart means villain status.
With a name like a Disney villain, this enormous UK fracking company fed off our dying planet like a succubus before fracking in England was 'indefinitely suspended' in November 2019. Oily cunts.
41. Logan Paul
Yeah, the YouTuber who once uploaded a video of someone who had hanged themselves in a forest. He threw Poké Balls at passing strangers in Japan. He said he was “going gay” for a month. He is hugely popular.
42. Dr Simon Ourian's aesthetic
You wouldn't see as many shoddy lip fillers out in public or on social media without Dr Ourian's success. He's the man behind the Insta-baddie-Kardashian-style face, obtained with non-surgical procedures (fillers, lasers, other future-but-now stuff). Mad how in 15 years white European beauty standards will have moved onto some other invented inadequacy, but there we go.
43. Peter “What a sad little life, Jane” Marsh
Infamous for coming last in an episode of Come Dine with Me, Marsh embodied what can only be described as the worst loser in the history of reality TV.
The tactic where riot police corral hundreds of protesters into one location and don’t let them leave until they’re tired, cold and want to go home rather than continuing to rail against injustice. Think this decade's student fees protests. And while we’d rather be kettled than choke on noxious fumes via so-called "dispersal" tactics, the sense that this is a somewhat more civilised and acceptable way to repress popular protest is nonsense.
45. Philip Green
The Topshop CEO, fond of keeping money in Monaco, was accused of racist abuse and sexual harassment after a watchdog alleged that he sold off BHS to avoid paying into its pension fund. He's fond of striding away from journalists mid-question, too.
I know, I know, “How Soon Is Now” fucking slaps, but endorsing Nigel Farage as Prime Minister and supporting group For Britain among… quite a few other things does not.
47. ………… Rebekah Vardy’s account
Every culture needs a villain people love to hate, and this year that became “Rebekah Vardy’s account” – unveiled with a dramatic flair to rival Hollyoaks: In the City. Sleuthing, scandal, feuds between glamorous women notorious for absolutely no reason, this was good old-fashioned British tabloid fodder revamped for the Instagram era.
Unkillable drug from hell.
49. Payday lenders
True scum for helping already desperate people spiral into further debt. Wonga collapsed last year following a surge of customer complaints to the Financial Ombudsman, but the memory of its (shudder) puppets and the vulnerable customers will stick around for a lot longer.
50. Mike Ashley
Billionaire CEO of Sports Direct, known for treating his employees with the disdain of a Victorian workhouse overlord and making a woman give birth in a toilet. File with Philip Green.