The Top 100 Most Influential People On The Right: Iain Dale's 2017 List
2 October 2017, 08:00
Each year for the last ten years I have convened a panel to compile a list of the Top 100 Most Influential People on the Right.
This year our panel was comprised of a national newspaper journalist, two ex-Spads, two online commentators and an ex Conservative MP.
The most difficult thing when deciding who to include and exclude, is to define what ‘influence’ actually means. In the end it means being influential in a combination of national politics, the media, on the Conservative Party and its leader.
In all, there are 31 new entries in the whole list, two down on last year’s record of 33. Out go Liz Truss, Andrew Tyrie, Mark Harper, Matt Hancock, Zac Goldsmith, Suzanne Evans, Douglas Carswell, George Freeman, Donal Blaney and John Hayes.
Robbie Gibb, the new Downing Street Director of Communications is the highest new entry at number nine, with Dominic Raab and James Brokenshire the next highest entries in the lower twenties. Some will be surprised that Jacob Rees-Mogg isn’t rated higher than 53, but it is his first year on the chart.
UKIP’s presence has declined this year with Suzanne Evans, Paul Nuttall, Douglas Carswell, Stephen Woolfe and Diane James all dropping out. Their new leader Henry Bolton comes in at 86, and Arron banks and Nigel Farage stay in, but that’s it.
Interestingly, the number of the women in this year’s list has dropped one from 24 to 23. However, in the Left list there are a record, so some way to go. The LibDems scored 17 in their list of 50.
It’s quite clear that this has been another year of change and surprise. Who would have predicted that Gavin Barwell, having lost his seat and ministerial position, would climb 63 places to number 7. Who would have thought our panel would eject Liz Truss altogether, having been at 37 last year and still attending Cabinet.
Graham Brady climbs into the top four from No 18 last year, while Damian Green also enters the top ten at number 6, rising 25 places from 31. Our panel put David Davis into second place on the basis that the fortunes of the whole government revolve around him, and he is seen as Theresa May’s closest ally apart from Damian Green. Michael Gove rebounds 26 places up the chart to number 13 after his phoenix like comeback into the cabinet.
Some might find it odd that Boris Johnson has fallen to number 14 given his recent bout of publicity, but our panel felt he had significantly alienated quite a large part of the parliamentary party and his prospects of succeeding Theresa May had implicitly diminished.
The Conservative Party is in a state of fluidity and flux. It is in a state of semi-permanent leadership turmoil. Nothing unusual there, you may think. But if Theresa May is to stay at the top of our list in 2018 she needs to exert leadership and put a stop to the leadership talk.
1. (-) Theresa May Prime Minister Last year we described Theresa May as “Mistress of all she surveys”. A year later she is clinging to power like a limpet, having called an unneeded general election which ended with her losing her majority. She’s survived due to the unwillingness of any rival to try to unseat her, and the fact there is no single ready made successor. She’s revamped her Downing Street operation but the loss of her two closest advisers (Fiona Hill & Nick Timothy) has hit her hard. Having said that, of late she’s recovered some of her ‘mojo’, although the Florence speech has done little to counter claims that her authority is still on the wane.
2. (+2) David Davis Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Seen as the natural ‘fall under a bus’ candidate should Theresa May quit, Davis has remained publicly very loyal to the Prime Minister since his appointment in July last year. He was the one to shore up her position in the hours after the election result but is said to remain frustrated by the way Number 10 continues to try to micromanage Brexit. DD has been careful to keep Cabinet ‘remainers’ onside, including the Chancellor, but his relations with the Foreign Secretary are icy to say the least.
3. (+2) Ruth Davidson Leader, Scottish Conservatives Theresa May’s position on June 9th was effectively saved by the election of 13 Tory MPs in Scotland and that was largely down to Ruth Davidson’s almost single-handed revitalisation of the Scottish Conservative Party. There’s little doubt that if she had a Westminster seat she’d be seen as the natural successor to Theresa May. However, she has been so vocal in being very anti-Brexit, one wonders whether the wider party would elect her if it came to it. She’s determined to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister, and who could honestly say there isn’t a chance of her pulling it off?
4. (+14) Graham Brady Chairman, 1922 Committee The election result has propelled Graham Brady up this list to a stratospheric number four. He is the keeper of the ‘letters’ from Tory MPs expressing no confidence in their leader. No one knows how many there are, but in many ways Theresa May’s job lies in his hands. She should beware if she ever spots him wearing a grey suit…
5. (+1) Philip Hammond Chancellor of the Exchequer Tipped for the chop had Theresa May won a landslide, instead Philip Hammond has made the most of his ‘unfireability’ and made clear he expects to be listened to, especially in the debate about the country’s future after Brexit. So far, he has had the best of it. He is said to still harbour ambitions to succeed Theresa May. Contrary to his grey demeanour as John Major Mark 2, he’s actually got a very well developed sense of humour – which he has needed over the last few months.
6. (+25) Damian Green First Secretary of State A close friend of Theresa May from their university days, Damian Green was always tipped to return to ministerial office if she became leader, after being fired by David Cameron. So far he is playing the role of Theresa’s ‘Willie’ very well. Urbane, smart and willing to defend a sticky wicket when necessary he’s the glue that holds the government together. Just.
7. (+63) Gavin Barwell Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister By common consent one of the nicest people in politics, he bounced back from losing his Croydon seat to replace Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff. He’s made it his business to be approachable and considerate and it is said that Downing Street is a happy place to work under his leadership. He is also said to speak truth unto power. Let’s hope he’s listened to.
8. (+11) Gavin Williamson Chief Whip One of the few Cameroons to survive regime change, Williamson’s appointment as chief whip caused more than a few raised eyebrows, given his comparative youth and inexperience. However, he did a sterling job as David Cameron’s PPS and was trusted by Tory MPs to relay their concerns. His negotiations with the DUP proved how close he is to the PM and his ability to sell the deal to the parliamentary party surprised some. Said to harbour much higher ambitions…
9. (NEW) Robbie Gibb Director of Communications, Number 10 Downing Street Robbie Gibb has introduced a much more open and cooperative media strategy and the partial transformation of Theresa May’s public persona is more down to him than anyone else. No one can take a horse to the trough and make it drink, but it’s clear that the Number Ten media strategy has changed from ‘say as little as possible’ to ‘make a case to us as to why this will work and we’ll look at it’. Although he is robust in tackling editorial mistakes or apparent bias by broadcasters he does it in a manner where the journalist comes away feeling good about themselves. A good talent to have.
10. (-) Amber Rudd Home Secretary Amber Rudd cemented her reputation as an effective performer in the EU referendum debates. She may have got a lot of criticism for ripping into Boris Johnson, but it made her a contender. She was sent out again to put the Foreign Secretary in his place after his infamous 4000 word Telegraph article. She radiates competence on the media and was rumoured to be considered for a move to the Treasury has the election result been rather better. She could go far, but her slim majority in Hastings & Rye might well hold her back.
11. (-8) Philip May First Gentleman There was always a debate in previous years as to whether Samantha Cameron should have been included on this list. There was no debate about the inclusion of Philip May. He is just as much a political animal as his wife, and she consults him on more or less everything. Deeply devoted to Conservative politics, he is also a very, very nice man, and incredibly hard working.
12. (-5) Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has tried to reassert his authority after a shaky few months but his recent article in the Telegraph on his optimistic vision for a post Brexit Britain went down like a cup of cold sick in Number 10 and most of the parliamentary party. It wasn’t a leadership bid, more of a ‘hey look at me, I’m still here’ piece. When he goes abroad half the politicians he meets love him and the other half scratch their heads in bemusement. His stock in parliament and in the wider voluntary party appears to be on the wane, even if he is the only Conservative still to have rock star status. Well, apart from JRM.
13. (+26) Michael Gove Secretary of State for DEFRA As we said last year, when he fell 26 places in this list, “what a difference a year makes”. He kept his nose clear during his wilderness year on the back benches and was used heavily during the election campaign to represent the party on the media. Gove was brought back in an unlikely department but so far has remained totally loyal and not put a foot wrong.
14. (-6) Sir Michael Fallon Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon is a reassuring figure at Defence. Having come to the Cabinet fairly late in life, he’s been a great survivor. An effective media performer, like Philip Hammond he was a surprisingly firm advocate of Remain, when all his political life we had all viewed him as a trenchant Eurosceptic. Said to harbour ambitions to move to the Foreign Office if Boris falls by the way.
15. (+2) Liam Fox Secretary of State for International Trade One of the three Brexiteers, Fox’s job is in some ways more difficult than the other two, because in theory he won’t have anything to show for his endeavours until Brexit is achieved at some point in 2019. All he can do is lay the ground work. So far he has avoided too many turf wars with Johnson and Davis and spoken out very rarely.
16. (-) Nigel Farage Former Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party Nigel Farage has certainly not gone quiet. Indeed, quite the reverse. He’s effortlessly made the transition from political leader to talk show host but it’s clear he may well soon return to the political fray if he thinks Brexit is in danger. It’s unlikely to be in the capacity of leader of UKIP, though.
17. (-6) Stephen Parkinson Political Secretary, Number 10 Downing Street Parkinson is a popular figure in Conservative Party circles. He left the Home Office to work for Vote Leave and has been Director of the Conservative History Group for some years. His is a crucial role in the Downing Street machine.
18. (+60) David Lidington Lord Chancellor & Secretary of State for Justice Popular with MPs on all sides of the House, Lidders – as he is known – had spent six years as Europe Minister and if anyone deserved a move and a promotion it was him. After a year as Leader of the House he replaced the hapless Liz Truss as Justice Secretary in the June reshuffle. Calm and reassuring, Lidington is an important player in the May team.
19. (-7) Greg Clark Secretary of State for Business, Energy, Innovation & Skills Greg Clark is seen as hugely competent and likeable and commands great loyalty. However, his ‘industrial strategy’ is seen by some on the right as rather left wing and politically suspect. Furthermore, the energy cap policy is not universally popular either. If he rebuilds some bridges with the right, Clark could well be a big player in Conservative politics for some time to come.
20. (-7) Chris Grayling Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling is in his dream job. Really. And he wants to stay in it for the duration as he firmly believes he can make a real difference. He’s weathered the ‘Southern Rail storm’ and is now often used as a lightning conductor, being wheeled out on the media to play a straight bat defending various unpopular government policies. He should be used more.
21. (+14) Brandon Lewis Minister for Immigration A rising star, and an excellent media performer, Lewis was unlucky not to make full Cabinet, and he will be one of the first knocking on the door in the next reshuffle. We said that last year but mean it even more this year. He’s gradually got a grip on a department which is famous for its incompetent administration. Possibly a successor to Patrick McLoughlin as party chairman.
22. (-8) Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Health A quieter year for Jeremy Hunt, which is always a good thing for a Conservative minister in the Department of Health. His priority is to ensure that the A&E crisis of last winter isn’t repeated this year. Only eight months until he surpasses Aneurin Bevan as the longest serving Health Secretary in history. Quite an achievement for a Conservative.
23. (+52) Arlene Foster First Minister of Northern Ireland A now familiar face on TV screens outside Northern Ireland, she extracted the maximum she could in the deal she and Nigel Dodds negotiated with Gavin Williamson. Many Tory MPs don’t trust Foster or her party and were appalled when they decided recently to vote with Labour in two Opposition Day debates. Her position in the DUP is far from secure, though, and her obstinacy over power sharing in Northern Ireland may end in tears.
24. (-1) David Gauke Secretary of State for Work & Pensions Promoted from Chief Secretary in the June reshuffle, Gauke may not be the most exciting of politicians but he exudes competence and is still often sent out on the media during difficult political times. If you want a politician on TV who can be relied on not to drop the proverbial bollock. Gauke is your man. Loved by Tory press officers.
25. (-10) Lord Michael Ashcroft Businessman & Philanthropist Michael Ashcroft has been relatively silent over the last year but his influence endures through his writing, his proprietorship of ConservativeHome and his polling operation. His new book – The Lost Majority – will be pored over for lessons the Tories need to learn from the last election.
26. (-1) George Osborne Former Chancellor of the Exchequer; Editor, London Evening Standard George Osborne has been very successful in maintaining a high media profile, and his first six months as editor of the Standard have been a success. He has pitched the paper as the chief opposition to Theresa May, losing no opportunity to criticise her, often in a very personal way. If he ever wants to return to frontline politics, he will have quite a lot of bridges to build.
27. (+1) George Hollingbery PPS to Theresa May Elected in 2010, George Hollingbery is devoted to Theresa May and is an effective communicator to her of the views of his fellow Tory MPs. He is well aware of her lack of small talk and it’s no exaggeration to say that he is almost as important to Theresa May as Ian Gow was to Margaret Thatcher.
28. (NEW) Dominic Raab Minister of State for Justice A protégé of David Davis, Raab refused a job in Theresa May’s initial team but was persuaded to return to the fold in June after a year of being a very effective advocate of a successful post Brexit Britain. Rather bizarrely, though, instead of joining Davis’s or Fox’s teams he returned to the Ministry of Justice.
29. (NEW) James Brokenshire Secretary of State for Northern Ireland One of Theresa May’s inner circle of friends, Brokenshire spent five years at May’s side at the Home Office where he had a reputation for being reliable if unexciting. He’s had a baptism of fire at the Northern Ireland office, but his natural ability to bring people together has been put to very good use.
30. (-) Paul Goodman Editor, ConservativeHome.com One of the few non MPs on this list who can phone up any cabinet minister and they'll take his call immediately. He seems to have become more radical as the years go by and isn't afraid to offer constructive criticism where he feels it is merited. ConHome will become every more important as this parliament develops.
31. (NEW) Nigel Dodds DUP Deputy Leader and MP for North Belfast Dodds seems to be relishing his new found position as the man in Westminster who could bring down the government. He never knew he was so popular among senior Conservatives…
32. (NEW) Joanna Penn Deputy Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister Known as JoJo, Penn is said to be the other woman in Downing Street who gets things done. A popular figure, she was with Theresa May at the Home Office and has her total trust.
33. (-24) Justine Greening Secretary of State for Education The election result had one positive benefit for Justine Greening – it meant all plans for more grammar schools had to be abandoned. She was never keen on them anyway. A quiet first year as Education Secretary has meant a fall in this year’s list, but our panel has high hopes she may rise again next year.
34. (-12) Karen Bradley Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport Somewhat of a surprise appointment, Bradley is another of Theresa May’s former Home Office colleagues who has been looked after by her former boss. Hugely popular in the parliamentary party, Bradley is tougher than she may first appear, as Rupert Murdoch has found. She’s the Jack Russell of the Cabinet – once she gets something between her teeth, she doesn’t let go.
35. (NEW) Steve Baker PUSS, Department for Exiting the European Union & MP for Wycombe A devout campaigner for Brexit, Baker was appointed to this job in June as a means of reassuring Eurosceptic Tory MPs after the shock sacking of David Jones. He’s proved to be a surefooted parliamentary performer. If ever David Davis should ‘go wobbly’, he can rely on Baker to keep him on the Brexit straight and narrow!
36. (+5) Fraser Nelson Editor, The Spectator Fraser Nelson was appointed editor at a comparatively young age, but he has more than lived up to both Andrew Neil's and his readers' expectations. He’s now been editor since 2009, a long time in the world of magazines.
37. (+21) Nicky Morgan Former Secretary of State for Education Theresa May and Nicky Morgan do not get on. Never have. So Morgan’s sacking came as little surprise to her or others. She quickly became the most outspoken critics of the Prime Minister on the Tory benches. However, she’s been careful not to overegg the criticism and of late has been positively loyal. Almost.
38. (NEW) Shanker Singham Director of Economic Policy, Legatum Institute An eloquent advocate of the advantages of free trade, it’s a shame that the government hasn’t been able to lure him to work for Liam Fox or David Davis. One of the small number of economists who has been a trade negotiator, expect to hear a lot from him over the next few years.
39. (-37) Nick Timothy Former Chief of Staff to Theresa May, Telegraph & Sun columnist Had the election been won by a landslide there’s a strong case to suggest that Nick Timothy might have even topped this year’s list. Instead, he fell on his sword, along with his co-Chief of Staff Fiona Hill, resigned. Hill has completely disappeared from view, while Timothy has two national newspaper columns and is rumoured to also still feed in his thoughts to Downing Street.
40. (-19) Andrea Leadsom Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Andrea Leadsom may have dropped down this list but she is not to be underestimated. In normal times being appointed Leader of the House would be seen as a promotion from Defra, but the job now only entitles Leadsom to ‘attend cabinet’ rather than be a full member of it. She is said to have displeased Number Ten with some media freelancing, but she is someone who should be used more.
41. (-17) Lynton Crosby Co-owner, Crosby Textor Fullbrook Lynton Crosby advised the Prime Minister not to hold an election in June as he recognised the dangers. His advice was ignored. Only in the last ten days of the campaign did he have control of the campaign, so he can’t be blamed entirely for what happened. The question now is whether he’s want to return for the next campaign or whether whoever leads the party would think they need a fresh pair of eyes.
42. (-13) Daniel Hannan MEP for South East England It was a sign of the ridiculous attitudes prevailing in CCHQ that Hannan didn’t get a safe seat at the June election. He was effectively blackballed from applying for his home seat of Aldershot by party chairman Patrick Mcloughlin, according to informed sources. He is one of the most articulate advocates of Britain in a post-Brexit world and he ought to be listened to.
43. (+12) Anna Soubry MP for Gedling Even more of a Remainer than Ken Clarke ‘Soubers’ has been a powerful voice in the Brexit debate, although she has toned it down of late, recognising that Brexit will, in the end, happen. She failed to get elected to the Brexit select committee for the second time, which is odd given that she is actually quite popular among her fellow MPs. She will be a very loud voice during the remaining stages of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.
44. (+1) Baroness Evans Leader of the House of Lords Baroness who? That was the response from most people when it was announced she had replaced the popular Baroness Stowell as Leader of the House of Lords. Natalie Evans is a long term friend of Theresa May from her Women2Win days. And that’s (still) about as much as we know!
45. (+1) Mark Littlewood Director General, Institute of Economic Affairs Littlewood has had a successful period in charge of one of the oldest think tanks in the country. A pugnacious debater, he is one of the best advocates of free market economics.
46. (-4) Priti Patel Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel needs to be tested in a bigger department. She’s seen by many as a future leader but some of her colleagues think she ought to be given a chance to run a frontline department to test her mettle. International Development is a department where it’s difficult for her to shine.
47. (+19) Paul Staines Managing Editor, Guido Fawkes blog The site everyone in politics loves to read, unless they feature on it. Still as incisive and controversial as ever, it’s scored some good exclusives in recent months. Twelve years old now, Guido Fawkes remains the one site that everyone involved in politics reads every day. If that isn’t a sign of influence, we don’t know what is.
48. (-4) Syed Kamall Leader of the European Conservatives & Reformists in the European Parliament A quieter year for Syed Kamall. Another MEP who failed to get a seat at the election, but surely it is only a matter of time.
49. (+16) Christian May Editor, City AM A former lobbyist at the Institute of Directors, Christian May was a surprise choice to take over the editorship of City AM from Alistair Heath, but boy oh boy was it an inspired one. He has lifted its profile, increased its turnover and distribution. And he’s making a name for himself as a pundit. One to watch.
50. (+8) Robert Halfon Chairman, Education Select Committee One of the most popular members of the parliamentary party, many heads were scratched when Halfon was summarily sacked as education minister in June. No one could understand why. We still can’t. However, he has bounced back very quickly and bagged the chairmanship of a very important select committee. He promises to be a very painful thorn in the government’s side.
51. (+9) Katie Hopkins Columnist, Mail Online The woman people seem to love to hate, she's actually quite a pussycat. Despite losing her LBC show Hopkins has retained a high profile and she’s increasingly a fixture on Fox News. With her autobiography out next month, expect to see a lot more of her this year.
52. (-5) Arron Banks Co-Chairman, Leave.eu Banks is an acquired taste for many. A former donor to the Conservatives, he switched his allegiances to UKIP and now funds the UKIP Leave.Eu campaign, which continues to campaign to ensure Britain really does leave the EU. Loud, outspoken and brash, he’s vowed to fund UKIP again with the election of its new leader.
53. (NEW) Jacob Rees-Mogg MP for North East Somerset Moggmentum shows no sign of abating. Rees-Mogg has proven hugely popular with the public and party members because of his authenticity. However, leadership talk is ridiculous, as he himself has acknowledged. The trouble is, the leadership speculation may have hurt his chances of achieving his real ambition, which is to be Speaker.
54. (NEW) James Marshall Director, Number Ten Policy Unit A former teacher, Marshall was special advisor to three chief whips and Lord Strathclyde when he was leader of the House of Lords. Brought back by Gavin Barwell, Marshall is not particularly a policy wonk, which is odd, given his new role. The FT quoted a leading Conservative as saying: “He’s running the policy unit like a whipping operation”.
55. (+26) Greg Hands Minister of State for International Trade It will have been a blow to Greg Hands to lose his Cabinet position but at least he survived, unlike many of George Osborne’s close allies. He will be delighted to be at the centre of the Brexit debate, even if he surprised many of his friends by supporting Remain. However, he ‘supported’ Remain in the same way as Theresa May did. An effective operator and he was one of the few people in government to respond to Grenfell appropriately.
56. (RE-ENTRY) Douglas Murray Author & Associate Director, Henry Jackson Society A real hate figure for the left, Murray’s new book THE STRANGE DEATH OF EUROPE has been both a bestseller and an important contribution to the debate on immigration, Islam and Europe. It confronts some important questions which many people do their best to avoid discussing.
57. (-6) Jo Johnson Minister for Universities Johnson has failed to build on his early promise and his rise up the greasy pole has come to a shuddering halt. He headed the team which wrote the 2015 Conservative manifesto, but that failed to propel his career forward. He’s certainly a tip to join the cabinet, but he needs a few successes first.
58. (-2) William Hague Former Foreign Secretary Some of us thought William Hague was a Eurosceptic but his interventions in the EU Referendum campaign proved what many of us suspected - that he went native during his five years as Foreign Secretary. A pity. However, he remains a politician who is listened to whenever he decides to make a pronouncement.
59. (-25) Lord Daniel Finkelstein Columnist, The Times Finkelstein drops again in this year’s list even though his Times columns make for compulsory reading. Why? Because he was seen as an arch Cameroon and is George Osborne’s best friend. He’s said to be helping David Cameron write his memoirs. A long term tip as a future leader of the House of Lords.
60. (+4) Lord Stuart Polak Director, Conservative Friends of Israel One of the shrewdest single issue pressure group lobbyists around, Polak joined the Conservative benches in the House of Lords in 2015. His influence on Conservative policy towards the Middle East is unlikely to decline.
61. (-25) Sheridan Westlake Special Advisor, No 10 Downing Street Having spent many years working in the CRD and then for Eric Pickles, Sheridan Westlake took on a new enforcement role in Downing Street under David Cameron. He is one of the few Cameron Downing Street appointments to be kept on by Theresa May. Basically in charge of delivery and avoiding clusterf**ks.
62. (-8) Sarah Wollaston Chair of the Health Select Committee The maverick's maverick many of her fellow MPs don't regard her as a team player. However, to others she is the exemplification of what a decent MP should be - open minded, willing to speak out against her own party if need be, diligent and honest. The public like and respect her.
63. (+20) Tracey Crouch Minister for Sport If ever there was a round peg in a round hole as a minister, it's Tracey Crouch. A qualified football coach, she made a blinding start in her new job and has ruffled all sorts of feathers in various sports. She has a refreshing interview style and has done a lot to advance the cause of women in sport.
64. (NEW) Stewart Jackson Special Advisor to David Davis Having lost his Peterborough seat in the election, and having been David Davis’s PPS in the last parliament, Jackson set himself up as a Brexit consultant. That didn’t last long and when DD came knocking and asked him to be his SPAD he couldn’t say no. He’s a total believer in not just a hard Brexit but a ‘steel’ one.
65. (NEW) Baroness Joyce Anelay Minister of State, Department for Exiting the EU Joyce Anelay may have voted ‘Remain’ but she and David Davis go back a long way (she was in his shadow home affairs team) and he trusts her as a safe pair of hands. A natural conciliator she will be absolutely vital in ensuring the Brexit Bill gets through the House of Lords.
66. (+3) Charles Moore Columnist, The Spectator Currently writing the final volume of his biography of Margaret Thatcher, Moore remains an absolute must read in the Spectator and Telegraph.
67. (NEW) Suella Fernandes MP for Fareham, PPS to Treasury Ministers, Chair, European Research Group of MPs It’s very odd that Suella Fernandes is a PPS and can also chair the European Research Group, which herds Eurosceptic MPs and puts pressure on the government to get Brexit done as quickly as possible.
68. (-48) Sir Patrick McLoughlin Chairman of the Conservative Party Last year we called McLoughlin “a great survivor” and “the ultimate safe pair of hands”. He’s survived the election result, which some in the party are furious about as they hold him, as party chairman, at least partly responsible for the result and the failure of the campaign strategy. Bizarrely, he is the one who’s carried out the internal inquiry (along with Eric Pickles). He is now rumoured to have had enough. And frankly, who could blame him?
69. (-20) Iain Duncan Smith Former Leader of the Conservative Party Having played a very prominent part in the election campaign, as one of the few senior Conservative politicians trusted to appear on the media, he might have (and I am told did) expected to return to government. It was not to be. Still retains a high profile, especially on Brexit.
70. (+15) Sir Eric Pickles Former Party Chairman Eric Pickles stood down at the election, which is a shame as he is someone respected on all sides of the party. He is the co-author of the party inquest into the election result, and I will be interesting to see if Sir Eric has learned the art of caveating. Let’s hope not, and he says it how it is, because the party as a whole deserves better than a whitewash.
71. Carrie Symonds Director of Communications, Conservative Party Carrie Symonds has returned to the CCHQ fold and a good thing too. She’s a formidable and respected operator and will work well with Robbie Gibb.
72. (-9) Tim Montgomerie Editor, Unherd.com Tim Montgomerie takes a slight fall in this year’s list but only because his visibility has reduced following his departure from the Times. His new venture, Unherd, is a brave new step into the world of long form, explanatory commentary. The site is not overtly party political, although it does have a rightish tinge to it. Let’s hope it is a huge success as it certainly deserves to be.
73. (+1) Sajid Javid Secretary State for Communities & Local Government Oh what might have been. Seen as the most dogged Eurosceptic in the cabinet, everyone was astonished when he came out for Remain. Having been seen as a future leader he instantly lost the trust of everyone on the right and is finding it difficult to recover. Rumour is that he and Theresa May do not get on and she had intended to remove him from the cabinet. He was slow to react to Grenfell but once he galvanised his department, he recovered his position. He now needs to make himself unsackable.
74. (NEW) Tom Tugendhat Chairman, Foreign Affairs Select Committee & MP for Tonbridge Charming, urbane and with a slight air of political naïveté, Tom Tugendhat ran for the chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs select committee, with the aim of putting a marker down. He didn’t expect to win. He ought to have got a junior ministerial position in June. One of a merry band of the 2015 intake who are seen as potential future leaders.
75. (-49) Katie Perrior Former Director of Communications, Number 10 Downing Street Katie Perrior resigned her post as soon as the election was called, which everyone thought a little odd. It didn’t take long for her to reveal what a viper’s nest Number Ten had been over the previous year. She’s now returned as chairman of inHouse PR and is pursuing a career in political punditry and has a regular column in The Times.
76. (-27) David Cameron Former Prime Minister Totally absent from the public debate over the last twelve months, it’s no surprise that David Cameron falls this year. Busy writing his memoirs, with the help of Danny Finkelstein, he is said to be finding the experience somewhat of a challenge. We’d like to hear more from him.
77. (NEW) Brendan O’Neill Editor, Spiked Online Brendan O’Neill has become something of a hero for those who are interested in defending free speech and freedom of expression. He’s not afraid to take on the politically correct brigade and deserves a much higher profile in the next twelve months.
78. (NEW) James Cleverley MP for Braintree Last week James Cleverley admitted he’d love to be prime minister. No doubt some will sneer at such an expression of naked political ambition, but why not? Had a baptism of fire on the GLA, and has a sunny outlook and great sense of humour. His army background will do him no harm. But he needs to be given some ministerial experience.
79. (NEW) Lord Taylor of Holbeach Conservative Chief Whip in the House of Lords John Taylor makes this year’s list because his role as chief whip in the next twelve months is going to be absolutely crucial. He will need to charm as many Crossbenchers as possible, and he’s just the man to do it.
80. (+17) Julia Hartley-Brewer Columnist & Broadcaster A prolific columnist and broadcaster, Hartley-Brewer has really raised her profile since her departure from LBC. She's unpredictable, feisty and intelligent and some reckon she'd make a great MP. She now presents the morning slot on the new talkRadio.
81. (-13) Dean Godson Director, Policy Exchange Policy Exchange is still as prolific as it ever was but has it infiltrated Number Ten in the same way it did during the Cameron years? Steps are being made but not quite.
82. (NEW) Andy Street Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street won by the narrowest of margins in the West Midlands Mayoral election and it will be fascinating to see how he deals with the mostly Labour councils in the area. He had few actual powers and precious little budget, but he does have the gift of the gab, which has taken him a long way.
83. (NEW) Sir Mick Davies Chief Executive & Co-Treasurer of the Conservative Party There are mutterings about why one man should hold two very important positions. Indeed, some question why he was appointed chief executive with comparatively little knowledge of the inner workings of the party.
84. (-13) Matthew Parris Columnist, The Times & Spectator For many he is the pre-eminent columnist of his generation. He can write entertainingly about anything and never bores, mainly because of his endearing unpredictability. Probably the most read columnist among Tory MPs. Unfortunately, Brexit has rendered him uncharacteristically predictable and his ‘remainiac’ rants can become somewhat tiresome if you’re on the other side of the debate. We still love him, though.
85. (-58) Matthew Elliott Former Chief Executive, Vote Leave, Founder of Brexit Central Matthew Elliott falls in this list partly because his public profile has fallen away since the referendum, but also because he hasn’t really carved out a new niche for himself or bagged a high profile job. However, Brexit Central is doing well and has become required reading
86. (-) Henry Bolton Leader, UKIP OK, we know nothing about him. So shall we just gloss over this one?
87. (NEW) Allister Heath Editor, Sunday Telegraph The Telegraph as a brand is having a tough time. Too many good journalist are leaving/have left, either voluntarily or otherwise. Having said that, the Sunday Telegraph has become readable again under Allister Heath’s editorship. He’s made some good hires but still has some way to go if he’s to steal readers from his competitors.
88. (NEW) Johnny Mercer MP for Plymouth Moor View Suffers from the Amber Rudd disease of having a very marginal seat, but Johnny Mercer is another of the 2015 intake who stands out from the crowd, partly due to his armed forces background. Like Tom Tugendhat he exudes an air of political naivete, but that can be harnessed as a positive.
89. (+2) Mark Wallace Executive Editor, ConservativeHome Wallace brings a bright, pugnacious approach to ConservativeHome and rarely sits on the fence in his writings. He often has some uncomfortable messages for the Conservative Party, not least since the general election campaign failure.
90. (NEW) Richard Tice & John Longworth Co-chairmen, Leave Means Leave Leave Means Leave exists to hold the government’s feet to the fire on Brexit and so far has done a good job in maintaining a good media profile. Tice is the urbane and acceptable face of Arron Banks, while Longworth provides the intellectual and economic heft.
91. (NEW) Geoff Norcott Comedian Said to be the country’s only right wing comedian. He’s made an appearance on Question Time and is actually very funny. In his act he’s a very reasonable Conservative rather than a headbanger and we suspect his profile will only continue to grow.
92. (-3) Toby Young Columnist & Broadcaster, Director of the New Schools Network Young has become an almost ever present presence on our screens and radios, giving his views on all sorts of issues. An eloquent broadcaster and combative writer, he’s never knowingly uncontroversial.
93. (NEW) Tom Swarbrick Head of Broadcasting, Number Ten Downing Street Former LBC reporter who played the role of poacher turned gamekeeper. Had a nightmare job before the election where his main role was to say ‘no’ to all broadcasters. Liked by the PM, Swarbrick is said to play an increasingly important role in the Number 10 operation, he’s working very well with Robbie Gibb.
94. (NEW) John O’Connell Chief Executive, Taxpayers’ Alliance The Taxpayers’ Alliance is a necessary invention and it still plays a very important role in holding those who spend money on our behalf to account. O’Connell started at the TPA as an intern, and now heads the organisation.
95. (NEW) Jonathan Isaby Editor, BrexitCentral.com Isaby is one of the Right’s most popular and engaging figures. His latest incarnation is as the editor of Brexit Central, a site which even devout Remainers like James McGrory say is an indispensable part of their morning reading. It’s not just a Brexit cheerleader, its articles are often far more informative and educational than those found in the mainstream press.
96. (NEW) Kemi Badenoch MP for Saffron Walden Our panel always likes to talent spot and this year we’re highlighting former GLA member Kemi Badenoch. We think she’s one to watch. Suave, articulate, interested in original policy ideas and ale to articulate them, we’d be surprised if she didn’t get a rapid promotion.
97. (NEW) Gareth Bacon Leader of the London Assembly Conservative Group Bacon has made a strong start as leader of a weakened Conservative group on the GLA and he is taking the fight to Sadiq Khan.
98. (+1) Andrew Kennedy Conservative Party Agent Acts as agent to a group of constituencies in West Kent and writes a brilliant blog (Voting & Boating) on his life and work. Two years ago, we wrote: “One of the party's best campaigners, it's likely CCHQ will try to bring him in house before too long, if only to silence his very caustic blog!” Rather surprisingly, that hasn’t happened yet! Or if they’ve tried, he’s been very adept in resisting their blandishments.
99. (-4) Kate Andrews News Editor, Institute of Economic Affairs One of the bright new generations of right of centre thinkers, Andrews has got a high media profile and deservedly so. Dry as dust on economics, she’s rather more liberal on social and foreign policy issues. An interesting mix.
100. (NEW) Dia Chakravarty Brexit Editor, Daily Telegraph A regular of BBC’s Question Time, Dia Chakravarty recently left the TPA to join the Telegraph. Working with Brexit Commissioning Editor Asa Bennett she’s making the Telegraph’s Brexit coverage unmissable.