The Contrarian Prize seeks to recognise individuals in British public life who demonstrate independence, courage and sacrifice. It aims to shine a light on those who have made a meaningful contribution to the public debate through the ideas that they have introduced or the stand they have taken.
All nominations come directly from the public and are considered by a diverse panel of judges that are all highly-respected within their respective fields.
The conformists are rewarded with senior positions in government, business, quangos and the media. But there is nothing to acknowledge those that stand up for what they believe in and suffer as a result. We applaud our military heroes but what about those heroes of conscience whose impact may, in time, be profound?
When the prize was established in 2012 it was against a backdrop where the British public had lost faith in the key institutions in our country. Parliament, the press, the police and bankers were all in the dock. From the expenses scandal, to phone-hacking, to financial mismanagement, we had witnessed abuse on a gargantuan scale and public trust had broken down.
In recent years we have now seen the rise of “cancel culture” where individuals that changing the prevailing consensus are hounded and in some cases lose their jobs as a result of merely expressing their opinion. How can society advance if there is no open discussion around ideas. The only people that seem to prosper are those that perpetuate the status quo, conform to the party line and never challenge the prevailing consensus.
The Contrarian Prize aims to encourage people to think about individuals in British public life be they politicians, journalists, activists, business people, religious leaders and others, who demonstrate authenticity, independent thinking and boldness. These people go against the grain, put their head above the parapet and stand up for what they believe.
History has shown us that those who take the path of conviction as opposed to the path of convenience do exist. Nelson Mandela, Mary Wollstonecraft, Millicent Fawcett, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Galileo are good examples.
The shortlist for the Contrarian Prize has been very varied in previous years and the winners have come from a range of backgrounds including business, human rights, politics, academia and education. You can see previous shortlists here.
The prize itself
The prize is represented by an iconic work, “The Three Politicians” by the renowned pop-art sculptor Mauro Perucchetti, who is famous for his distinctive, large, brightly coloured resin sculptures and has addressed a number of thorny issues including cloning, contemporary consumerism and war in his pieces.
Unique, symbolic, and meaningful, it encapsulates the essence of the values and behaviours being recognised by the prize. The piece is not only a beautiful it is also wonderfully appropriate. “The Three Politicians” - the one who does not see, the one who does not hear and the one who does not speak out. The Contrarian is the opposite of all of these.
The Prize is funded by a handful of private individuals that believe that contrarian behaviour should be recognised and does not accept funds from corporates or large foundations to preserve its independence.
You can read more about the prize on this site and we encourage you to tweet using #cprize.
Founder and Chairman of the Panel of Judges