20 Oct 2016 at 15:36
Ken Loach talks about his new film ‘I, Daniel Blake’.
20 Oct 2016 at 15:36
Ken Loach talks about his new film ‘I, Daniel Blake’.
15 Oct 2016 at 21:02
I like Nick Clegg. Always have. He’s a transparently nice guy. I suspect he’s a very loyal person, and someone who tries to see the best in people. This can sometimes be a fatal flaw in a politician.
I remember seeing Nick Clegg at the 2008 LibDem conference, less than a year after his election as the party’s leader. “You’re a risk taker,” I said. “I like that in a politician.” He wasn’t afraid to take the risk of going into full coalition with the Conservatives and he wasn’t afraid to suffer the consequences. I think history will be much kinder to Nick Clegg than many commentators have been so far. He may have sacrificed his party, but he did it for the right reasons, and the country ought to be grateful to him. It isn’t of course, but that’s just ‘realpolitik’ in today’s unforgiving world of instant political commentary.
When I heard that Nick Clegg was writing a book I must admit I was slightly surprised by the title and totally put off by the marketing press release which his publishers put out. “Politics: Between the Extremes” has to be one of the worst titles ever thought of in the history of book publishing. I’ll read anything political but the blurb describing the book even put off a political geek like me. Well, they bravely stuck with the title…
This book is not an easy read. The first half amounts to one long whinge about how everyone is so beastly to the sainted Liberal Democrats and to the man who took them to power for the first time in eighty years. Up to a point, Lord Copper.
This book might have been better had it been a conventional autobiography. Clegg has a fascinating personal narrative and story, yet we only get to hear about it almost in passing in this book. We hear a little about how his political narrative developed, but he skates over too much.
Throughout the book he jumps from event to event and back again. What you think he’s finished discussing in one chapter then appears again in another. At times the text is almost impenetrable. At others it’s very chatty.
He’s at his best when writing about issues he cares about, like Britain’s role in (or not) Europe. The passion oozes from the page. When he writes about the business of politics and government it’s written with a sense of ennui, as if it’s rather beneath him.
I interviewed Nick Clegg about the book recently, and when we were chatting afterwards I said how nice it was to see him so relaxed. When he was leader of the LibDems he always seemed to live in a state of slight irritation. It came across in interviews and phone-ins. It was as if he was subconsciously sending out a message to people saying: “Why can’t you see that what I am doing is right and give me the credit for doing it?”
Back in March I published David Laws’ book, COALITION. OK, I am biased, but if I wanted to read a book about the coalition, I know which I’d choose. David Laws has his moments when he can’t see the LibDem wood for the Conservative trees, but in Nick Clegg’s book the principled and idealistic LibDems were almost always right, and the beastly unprincipled Conservatives always had malign motives, if they took a line which was different to their coalition partners.
Having said that, at times, Clegg seems to rather admire the sheer ruthlessness of the Conservatives. He makes a lot of this when talking about the AV referendum.
Where Clegg is at his best is when he writes about the perils in being a junior partner. He compares the position of the LibDems to other liberal parties in Europe, like the German FDP, or their Dutch counterparts, and muses whether post government decline is always inevitable for smaller coalition parties.
This is not a bad book, but it could have been better. It adds to our knowledge of contemporary history, but one suspects it’s not the whole truth.
We know that Nick Clegg kept a diary. We don’t know if it was just for his period in government or also the years before. I suspect we’d learn a lot more about Nick Clegg’s motives and beliefs if that diary were ever published. We know that David Laws had access for it for his book, and no doubt Nick Clegg referred back to it for this book, but in the end he should publish the diaries, assuming they amount to more than just a record of events. I suspect they amount to far more than that.
Nick Clegg is still not 50 years old. I hope he doesn’t stand down in 2020. I rather think he might one day return to lead his party, and if he does, it’s entirely possible that at some point they could return to government.
With the decline of Labour, the LibDems have a fantastic opportunity to grow. They might not return to the giddy heights to the Cleggmania of May 2010 and of winning 50 or 60 seats in 2020, but I suspect they will win far more than eight.
When Corbyn stands down in favour of John McDonnell in May 2020 (which is surely more than 50-50 likely), that’s the point that the LibDems can again come to the fore. Tim Farron may be the man to take them forward, or he may not. If he isn’t, then I can think of a man who could, assuming he is still in Parliament – Nicholas William Peter Clegg.
Politics: Between the Extremes by Nick Clegg is published by The Bodley Head in hardback at £20.
14 Oct 2016 at 13:48
Well, Craig Oliver’s book has certainly attracted a degree of animosity from Her Majesty’s Press. Robbie Millen in The Times called it “hastily cobbled together”, while James Kirkup in The Daily Telegraph is crueller.
He suggests that “to read this book is to suffer a form of intellectual claustrophobia.” What utter drivel. It’s not meant to be a book for intellectuals. As Kevin Maguire put it on Twitter (and I’m not given to quoting Maguire that often), “revenge is a dish best served cold”. And that’s exactly what Kirkup and others have done. They appear to relish getting their own back on a Government spin doctor who obviously upset them from time to time.
In some ways, this is not surprising. As I say in my own review of the book “I thought he was too concerned with keeping BBC news programmes happy and didn’t seem to get that there were actually other broadcasters who mattered too.” In the beginning, there was certainly a feeling among print hacks that Oliver didn’t understand their needs, or even care.
Whatever truth there may have been in that view when he started the job, I think it is unfair to characterise him in that way at its end. It is so much easier to write a book review that is negative. I made clear some of my own misgivings about Oliver’s version of events, but at least I tried to be balanced. I’ve yet to read a review written by a print journalist that has made any attempt to do the same. They have short-changed their readers.
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Talking of current political memoirs, I am around a hundred pages into Nick Clegg’s book. And boy, am I struggling. So far, it’s one long whinge. I’ll write a full review once I get to the end. If I get to the end…
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It seems I have upset the Welsh. Not difficult with some of them. I saw a tweet from Plaid Cymru saying this: “We have the opportunity in Wales to do things differently – not the ugly politics of British nationalism.”
I responded by tweeting: “The lack of self-awareness in this tweet is incredible. What about the ugly politics of Welsh nationalism?” I thought this was a relatively uncontroversial statement, but from the reaction of some Plaid supporters you’d have thought I’d suggested the complete defenestration of Leanne Wood in Cardiff city centre.
Oh, no they cried, there’s nothing ugly about Welsh nationalism. Why, though, is it OK to be proud of the Welsh nation, but not of the British nation?
Look at the group Balchder Cymru (Pride of Wales), and tell me that a lot of its views and actions aren’t “ugly”. There are plenty examples of Plaid supporters and politicians making exactly the same kind of anti-English comments that some SNP politicians have specialised in over the years. Just do a quick Google search if you don’t believe me.
Caru Cymru, a Plaid-supporting blog, accuses me of being anti Welsh. Nothing could be further from the truth. He judges me on the basis of that single tweet. Let me make it crystal-clear. If I were Welsh or Scottish. I too would be tempted by the nationalist cause. But what would put me off supporting the SNP or Plaid is their blatant anti-British and anti-English rhetoric. It isn’t always “ugly”; but it often is. And that is an indisputable fact.
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Tonight I’m travelling to Norwich from Liverpool Street. If I go on the 7.30, a first class ticket will cost me all of £27.10. If I take the 8pm train, the price goes up to £103.10. Can I get to Liverpool Street in time, given that my LBC show finishes at 7 and I’m in Leicester Square? I’ll let you know.
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I don’t know how many of you watch Dave, a channel on Freeview or Sky which specialises in re-running comedy programmes. Well, on Wednesdays at ten there’s a series called Matt Forde Unspun.
Matt is a politically interested comedian and he’s joined by his house band, MP4 – four MPs who are actually rather musically gifted. It’s a political chat show with a series of satirical features, and it’s rapidly becoming a must-watch.
But Dave has done very little to promote it, and I worry that its audience figures won’t be high enough to warrant them commissioning a second series. Forde is a brilliant mimic – indeed, the only one I know who can do David Cameron. Apart from the satire, he also does a lengthy interview with a politician. So far on this series he’s had Anna Soubry, Alan Johnson and Chuka Umunna. Each of them has been witty and irreverent, and Forde manages to get them out of their normal politician mode. Give it a try. Wednesdays at ten on Dave.
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Can I just refute the rumours that Michael Gove is embarking on a new career as a scary clown?
10 Oct 2016 at 18:41
I had the pleasure of interviewing LibDem leader Tim Farron earlier. We were talking about whether Parliament should have a vote on any deal the Government negotiates. Tim just couldn’t get it into his head that the Single Market is an integral part of the EU, and therefore if we don’t leave it we are still subject to EU law, i.e. still members of the EU. He admitted that there was no deal the Government could negotiate that he would recommend his MPs vote for.
He just doesn’t get it. He may protest that he respects the result of the referendum, but on this performance they are just easy words.
On Remembrance Sunday Iain Dale asks Simon Weston how he marks the day, and at the end they discuss Falklands War hero Ian Dale, who was killed on the Sir Galahad.
9 Oct 2016 at 20:27
I did a 10 minute interview with Craig Oliver about his book, which you can watch HERE
It was around 10am in the morning on a Saturday in December 2012. I was in bed. The previous night I had given a speech to David Cameron’s Conservative Association in Chipping Norton. The bastards had heckled me over my views on gay marriage. I thought I deserved a lie-in.
Suddenly my phone rang. I sat bolt upright in bed. “I have the Prime Minister for you,” said the voice at the other end. And there was I, stark bollock naked in bed.
“I hear you had some fun last night with my lot,” laughed the PM. I retorted: “Clearly your modernising agenda hasn’t worked on them.” After he’d thanked me for doing the speech he suddenly asked me how I thought things were going. I’ve no clue what I said, but I do remember commenting that I thought the Number Ten media operation needed a bit of sharpening. At that, the Prime Minister launched into a staunch defence of Craig Oliver. It turned into a bit of a rant. “I don’t know why people keep having a go at Craig. He’s bloody brilliant.” I hadn’t actually mentioned Oliver, although I do remember saying that I thought he was too concerned with keeping BBC news programmes happy and didn’t seem to get that there were actually other broadcasters who mattered too.
I tell that anecdote to underline the fact that Craig Oliver and David Cameron were as close as close could be. And they remained so until the bitter end. Oliver would have died in a ditch for Cameron, and Cameron wholly trusted his judgement and strategic thinking. When you get to the end of this book you are left wondering whether the former Prime Minister was right to.
UNLEASHING DEMONS is based on the daily diaries Craig Oliver kept from late 2015 until June 23 2016. Given how often he complains about not having any time to do anything, you wonder how he had the time to keep a record, but we should all be very grateful that he did.
This is contemporary history at its best, and it is probably the best account of the Remain campaign we’re likely to get. Yes, it’s instant. Yes, it’s partisan, but he was there – there in all the important meetings. Yes, it does sometimes have the faint echo of a slight rewriting of events to make the best of them. Yes, some of the analysis smacks of being wise after the event, but make no mistake, anyone thinking they should give this book a miss is missing out.
It’s full of juicy anecdotes and riddled with emotion. At times the reader wonders whether Oliver was on the verge of a minor breakdown. By the end of the campaign he was pretty sure his health had been affected. Those of us who have been through a general election campaign know the pressures that come with it, but that generally only lasts for a few weeks. This campaign was full on for six months.
If you hate Michael Gove, you’ll love this book. If you think Theresa May is a bit of a calculating minx, you’ll have your suspicions confirmed. If you think everyone on the Leave side of the debate was an out and out liar, you’ll love it in spades. And if you think the Remain side was full of decent people who were the true patriots, again, this will be right up your street.
According to Oliver, the motives of the Leave campaign were universally dodgy, malign and ignorant. Their tactics were disgusting and it was all the fault of Dominic Cummings. Somewhat bizarrely, the director of Vote Leave, Matthew Elliott, only rates two mentions. Project Fear wasn’t something ‘Stronger In’ indulged in, no Siree. All down to Vote Leave, you see.
If you’re running a campaign you have to be a true believer. You have to believe in your product. But the fact Craig Oliver was even running the ‘Stronger In’ campaign – and this book makes clear he was – came as a bit of a revelation to me. I had always thought it was Will Straw. Even Straw plays only a peripheral role in this book. OK, he rates rather more mentions than Matthew Elliott, but he only appears when he’s agreeing with Craig, or saying something wholly uninteresting. If you believe Oliver, he was setting the strategy and the Prime Minister was signing it off. And this was one of the reasons why the campaign never really sparked. Will Straw is a nice guy, but hardly an inspirational figure. Craig Oliver is a bit more worldy-wise, but he’s from the media. He’s not a political strategist and has never fought an election campaign. What ‘Stronger In’ needed was a Lynton Crosby figure. The only figures remotely involved who could have fulfilled that role were Peter Mandelson and/or Alastair Campbell. But they had too much baggage to play more than a peripheral role.
This book is too instant for Craig Oliver to really understand the mistakes that were made. Not all of them were made in the campaign. The seeds for the Leave victory were sown many, many years ago. Most recently, the failure of the Blair government to restrict Eastern European immigration in the early 2000s set alight the flames of the immigration debate. ‘Stronger In’ failed to engage on the subject, mainly because they didn’t have an answer to it. They bet the house on the economy, and it blew up in their faces. They couldn’t have predicted that Labour would fail to mobilise their voters and seem totally disinterested in the fact that a good many of them had already made the trip to UKIP-land.
The BBC plays a big role in this book. Having come to Number Ten from being editor of the BBC Ten O’Clock News, Oliver comes across as very naïve about the way the BBC operates. He genuinely believed the BBC was biased against ‘Stronger In’ and there are dozens to examples of angry phone-calls to various BBC executives complaining about their coverage. Some of them were legitimate, but his inability to understand that the Leave campaign felt the same and were doing exactly the same thing is rather odd.
I wanted to publish this book, and met Craig Oliver to discuss doing just that. In the end he went with a big publisher, Hodder, and I have to say they’ve done a terrific job in bringing the book out so quickly. Normally, when a book is published in double quick time, it is riddled with errors. I spotted only two – a missing ‘a’ and Robert Syms MP’s name spelled incorrectly.
This book is meant to be a diary, but it’s actually a book based on a diary. It’s a strange way of writing a book, but it works. Alastair Campbell’s diaries are raw and from the day itself. I’d love to read Craig Oliver’s raw diaries. I wonder if by the end of them, I’d have a different understanding of events than the one offered in this book. I hope not, but there’s always the doubt that inconvenient facts and opinions might have been excised from a book like this. In a way it’s inevitable. There are no great prime ministerial temper losses revealed here, but I can’t believe it didn’t happen once. There are no shouting matches at ‘Stronger In’ board meeting. Yeah, right…
Overall, though, this book rivals Ed Balls’ SPEAKING OUT as the most enjoyable political book I have read this year. It has pace, insider info and a bit of chutzpah. As I finished it, I wondered if David Cameron has read it yet. It may be better for him to leave it for a few months… It would be like picking at a scab.
UNLEASHING DEMONS by Craig Oliver is published by Hodder in hardback at £20. You can buy it from Politicos.co.uk HERE
You might also like these other forthcoming books on Brexit…
The Brexit Club by Owen Bennett – More details HERE
Summer Madness: How Brexit Split the Tories by Harry Mount – More details HERE
The Bad Boys of Brexit by Arron Banks – More details HERE
All Out War by Tim Shipman – More details HERE
7 Oct 2016 at 13:34
I did enjoy Theresa May’s joke about Boris Johnson at the beginning of her main conference speech. It genuinely brought the house down. For those who didn’t hear it, here goes:
“When we came to Birmingham this week, some big questions were hanging in the air. Do we have a plan for Brexit? We do. Are we ready for the effort it will take to see it through? We are. Can Boris Johnson stay on message for a full four days? Just about.”
Johnson can be quite sensitive about jokes which poke fun at him, so it made me wonder whether the Prime Minister or one of her team ran it by him in advance to check that he was OK with it.
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On Tuesday, I hosted a fringe for ConHome with David Davis. It was in an ‘In Conversation’ format, so he and I shooted (or is it ‘shot’?) the breeze for 45 minutes before he took questions from the audience.
Unbeknown to either of us the whole thing was filmed, as I discovered when a friend told me it was being shown on Wednesday night on BBC Parliament.
My last question to him at the end was: “Do you think you’ve got through this without dropping a bollock?” Had I known it was being filmed, I might have chosen my words rather differently. I wonder if the BBC bleeped it.
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The other fringe I spoke at was hosted by FOREST and the Tobacco Manufacturers Association in a very loud bar called Nuvo. There were several hundred people there, all getting gradually drunk as a skunk.
I’d written a few bullet points, which I then discovered I had lost, so I had rapidly to type out a few notes on my iPhone, just in case I dried up. Although I speak on the radio for three hours every day, I don’t do many speeches nowadays, so I got a lot more nervous about doing this than I would have done a few years ago. In fact, I was bloody petrified.
There were four speakers and I was the last, after Paul Scully. Most of the audience were happily guzzling and chatting while we all spoke, but in the end I think it went off OK. I banged on about freedom of the individual and the fact that we should all take responsibility for what we put in our bodies (ooh, er), and that anyone who supported a sugar tax should forfeit the right to call themselves a Conservative.
OK, shameful populism at an event like this, and of course it got the cheer I knew it would. I also got the biggest laugh out of the four of us for using the phrase “shag like a beast”. You had to be there. It was in context, I promise.
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The Liberal Democrats are apparently throwing the kitchen sink at the Witney by-election. Given that they came fourth in 2015 with 6.8 per cent of the vote – 12 per cent down on 2010 – one has to salute their optimism. Still, it gives them something to do.
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UKIP is in danger of becoming a laughing stock. Having resigned after only 18 days as UKIP leader, Diane James fell on her sword on Wednesday night. Even Sam Allardyce lasted 67 days, but at least he did get one win under his belt.
James cited various reasons for her decision. She had been spat at on a train and jostled in the street. She said she hadn’t got the full support of her MEPs or party officials, but perhaps most important of all she has a husband who is very ill. It seems to me that she was pushed into standing in the first place, and instantly came to regret the decision.
So what now? Apparently Steven Woolfe was within an inch of defecting to the Conservatives at the weekend, so that will damage his candidacy. (And, by the way, I am glad to read that he is in good spirits after yesterday’s incident.)
Raheem Kassam, Nigel Farage’s former press officer, has announced he wants the job. Yes, really.
But all eyes are now on Suzanne Evans. She’s told me she is :definitely considering it”, and I suspect she won’t be able to resist. However, her allegiance to Vote Leave rather than Leave.eu and the fact that she is an ally of Douglas Carswell will make her persona non grata to the Faragistas.
Could it be that Paul Nuttall will be persuaded to throw his hat in the ring as well? They really need all their big beasts to contest this latest leadership election.
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For the last 24 hours, I have been assailed by some rather aggressive people in Liverpool who have taken exception to the fact that my company is publishing a book on Hillsborough by Sir Norman Bettison.
he venom has to be read to be believed. The concept of freedom of speech seems alien to these people, none of whom have read a word of the book, yet feel free to damn it weeks before it is even published. They assume they know what’s in it, but are likely to be surprised.
The local paper then had a go at me, as the publisher of the book, for what I wrote about the city in 2011, having been there to attend a Labour Party conference. Of course they failed to report what I wrote in this column last week, where I said how much I had enjoyed being there for that party’s conference this year.
This kind of guff is like water off a duck’s back. Sir Norman came to us to publish this book because he knew we were made of strong stuff. and could cope with the tsunami of abuse that would inevitably greet news of its publication of his book. It is very far from what some people imagine. But I might as well whistle in the wind when I say so.
3 Oct 2016 at 11:00
Each year for the last nine 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 current Member of Parliament & former minister, two right leaning journalists, and a party agent current special advisor.
The most difficult thing when deciding who to include an 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 33 new entries in the whole list, the most since the list began. Out go a whole host of Cameroons including Samantha Cameron, Ed Llewellyn, Andrew Feldman, Catherine Fall, Grant Shapps, Nick Boles, Craig Oliver and Giles Kenningham.
In come a whole raft of Theresa Mayites including her key advisers Stephen Parkinson, Nick Timothy & Fiona Hill. Indeed Hill and Timothy are the highest new entries, both at number two. The highest new entries among politicians are Justine Greening at number 9 and Andrea Leadsom at 21.
UKIP have a bit of churn this year. Out go Paul Nuttall and Raheem Kassam, but the new leader Diane James returns to the list at 52. Nigel Farage clings onto the top 20, but drops 12 places to 16. The biggest UKIP riser is Arron Banks who rises 47 places and is above Diane James. He will no doubt take great pleasure in the 44 places Douglas Carswell has dropped. Suzanne Evans and Stephen Woolfe also cling on.
Interestingly, the number of the women in this year’s list has risen from 17 to 24, the highest ever. However, in the Left list there are 37, so some way to go.
It’s quite clear that this has been a year of change and surprise. Who would have predicted that David Davis would be this year’s highest riser – from 83 to 4? Next year things will no doubt stabilise.
1. (+4) Theresa May
Mistress of all she surveys, Theresa May has wasted no time in junking much of the Cameron/Osborne legacy. Ascending to the leadership without a fight she is scoring very high popularity ratings both among Conservative supporters and the electorate more generally. You’re never more powerful than in your first six months as Prime Minister, and it is clear Mrs May has worked this out for herself.
2. (NEW) Nick Timothy & Fiona Hill
Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Prime Minister
It’s unusual for us to put two people together on this list but Timothy and Hill work so closely that they are perceived as one. Forced out of the Home Office by David Cameron they have wasted little time in getting a little bit of revenge, and very sweet it must have been too. Hill has an iron grip on the media operation, while no policy from any area of government goes ahead without Nick Timothy’s stamp of approval. They’ve recruited well, especially in their choice of media team. These two could well develop into the most powerful pair of government advisers since Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell. And that’s meant as a compliment.
3. Philip May
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.
4. (+79) David Davis
Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
Well, who’d have thought it? The one time leadership contender and serial rebel has been rehabilitated by Theresa May to take on possibly the biggest single task asked of any British politician in recent memory – to negotiate Britain’s way out of the EU. His reputation as a serial rebel has to be put into cold storage and he knows there can’t be a tissue paper between him and Theresa May. He’s aware of the risk she has taken with him and intends to repay that trust in full.
5. (+4) Ruth Davidson
Leader, Scottish Conservatives
Last year we wrote: “Ruth Davidson has had a stonking leader in charge of the Scottish Conservatives.” This year has been even better, as she led the Scottish Tories into second place in the May elections to the Scottish Parliament, something that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
6. (+6) Philip Hammond
Chancellor of the Exchequer
A disappointing Foreign Secretary, who like most foreign secretaries went native in King Charles Street, he was thought to be on his way out had David Cameron survived. Instead, his close friend Theresa May made him Chancellor. He has the opportunity to be a radical chancellor, although most pundits do not expect him to be a risktaker. Having been an avid Eurosceptic in opposition, he seems to delight in tweaking the tail of Brexiteers. A dangerous game for him to indulge in at the moment.
7. (+3) Boris Johnson
The most unlikely appointment as Foreign Secretary since David Owen, our FCO sources tell us that Boris is very popular at King Charles Street and he has charmed many foreign dignitaries who he has met in his first three months in the job. He’s recovered his BoJo MoJo after the devastation of his defenestration by Michael Gove. His main challenge will be to carve out a role in a job which has been reduced in stature as David Davis and Liam Fox seem to nibble away at the portfolio.
8. (+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.
9. (NEW) Justine Greening
Secretary of State for Education
A close ally of Theresa May, Justine Greening dropped out of last year’s list. She clearly hated being at International Development so is cock-a-hoop at returning to a mainstream, and important department of government. With universities added to the portfolio, she knows how important it is for her to succeed. Let’s hope she gets a new lease of political life.
10. (+48) Amber Rudd
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. Rudd will struggle to lose her ‘Remain Cheerleader’ status but no one should be blind to the fact that she is a top drawer politician in her prime.
11. (NEW) Stephen Parkinson
Political Secretary, Number Ten Downing Street
Worked closely with Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill as one of Theresa May’s three Home Office SPADS, 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.
12. (+19) Greg Clark
Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
Greg Clark has risen almost effortlessly through the ranks. Both competent and a transparently nice, he’s been a success in every role he has taken on. His new, slightly unwieldy and illogical department, will provide him with a real challenge in terms of management. His emollient style should help pacify some of the more vigorous vested interests who will be pressing him for sweeties.
13. (+4) Chris Grayling
Secretary of State for Transport
Having been a leading player in the ‘No’ campaign many people were writing off Chris Grayling’s future prospects under David Cameron, but he played a clever hand in the EU referendum, staying on the side of loyalty and never straying. When Cameron went he immediately spotted Theresa May would win and she appointed him her campaign manager. Some were surprised that he wasn’t offered the Brexit or Trade jobs, but in Transport he is like a pig in the proverbial. When he says it’s his dream job, not everyone believes him, but they should. It’s true.
14. (-8) Jeremy Hunt
Secretary of State for Health
Hunt has had a difficult year with the junior doctors and it was thought Theresa May would move him. And if it hadn’t been for Stephen Crabb resigning, she undoubtedly would have. Jeremy Hunt was brought in to the Health job to calm the NHS after the Lansley reforms. He achieved that in the short term, but his task now must surely be to do it all over again.
15. (-2) Lord Michael Ashcroft
Businessman & Philanthropist
Michael Ashcroft has been relatively silent over the last year, following his severe illness last autumn. But his influence endures through his writing, his proprietorship of ConservativeHome and polling. With Cameron gone, and his admiration for Theresa May apparent, it’s difficult to imagine the Good Lord declining in influence this year.
16. (-12) Nigel Farage
Former Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party
The one thing that we can be sure about is that Nigel Farage isn’t about to disappear from the political scene. America may well be seeing more of him in the next twelve months, but he will no doubt be around to ‘guide’ his successor from the back seat of the car in the way that only Nigel Farage can. No one bets against him making a return to the leadership before 2020.
17. (+57) 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. He must be careful to avoid too many turf wars with Johnson and Davis. Recruiting a whole army of trade negotiators is his short term priority.
18. (+7) Graham Brady
Chairman, 1922 Committee
Given Brady has been the chief cheerleader for grammar schools since 1997, it is something of a mystery as to why he wasn’t appointed a Minister of State in the Department of Education, or indeed Secretary of State. He’d have been the perfect exponent for the policy.
19. (+45) Gavin Williamson
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. Does he have the steel and the political nouse to be an effective chief whip with a majority of 12? We’re about to find out.
20. (+10) Sir Patrick McLoughlin
Chairman of the Conservative Party
Last year we called McLoughlin “a great survivor” and “the ultimate safe pair of hands”. We see no reason to change our minds. He’s likely to be a popular chairman but will he be a reforming chairman? So far he seems set to implement the Feldman reforms on party structures but he is likely to have ideas of his own too.
21. (NEW) Andrea Leadsom
Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Leadsom dropped out of last year’s list as it became clear she had been given the black spot by George Osborne. This year her profile shot up during the EU referendum campaign, where she was one of the best debators for Vote Leave. Her leadership campaign may have crashed and burned but her cabinet position gives her a front row seat and an opportunity to be an important part of the debate. She’s kept her counsel since the events of July, and would be well advised to continue to do so.
22. (NEW) 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 the BBC may well confirm.
23. (+45) David Gauke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Almost a Treasury lifer, Gauke is very adept at playing a straight bat in TV and radio interviews when both he and the interviewer know he’s on a sticky wicket. It’s quite a talent. He’s a tough negotiator, as various cabinet ministers have found out.
24. (-21) Lynton Crosby
Co-owner, Crosby Textor Fullbrook
Lynton Crosby remains a hugely popular figure in the Conservative Party even if he does have the odd enemy. His decision to opt out of advising either side in the referendum campaign was the right one and although his company failed to pull off an unlikely win for Zac Goldsmith in the London mayoral campaign he remains in prime position to run the Conservative 2020 general election campaign.
25. (-23) George Osborne
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer
We described George Osborne last year as being “at the height of his powers”. What a different a year makes. We also said that being the favourite to take over from David Cameron was “a dangerous position to hold as he well knows”. Since his dismissal by Theresa May he has carefully positioned himself as the Prince Over the Water. That too, can be quite a dangerous position, but expect him to make lots of efforts to improve his popularity with his parliamentary colleagues and the voluntary party.
26. (NEW) Katie Perrior
Director of Communications, Number 10 Downing Street
Hugely popular among both MPs and lobby journalists, Perrior first came to public notice when she and her colleague Jo Tanner ran Boris Johnson’s media in his 2008 mayoral campaign. Since then the both of them have run the highly successful inHouse PR firm. Working hand in glove with Fiona Hill, Perrior is a natural at putting out media fires and persuasively briefing journalists. Having said that, she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, as those working with her soon realise.
27. (+10) Matthew Elliott
Former Chief Executive, Vote Leave
Matthew Elliott’s star has never been higher, unless your name’s David Cameron. Having now run two successful referendum campaigns, and successfully kept Dominic Cummings more or less under control, Elliott ought to now be running something big in the Conservative Party. The fact that he isn’t says more about them, than him.
28. (NEW) 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.
29. (+4) Daniel Hannan
MEP for South East England
Hannan had a good referendum campaign, coming across as one of the more sensible voices for Leave. He will surely be a shoo-in for a safe Westminster seat in 2020. A prolific author, he may well play a very important part in the Brexit negotiations.
30. (+4) Paul Goodman
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 traffic is at an all-time high, and deservedly so.
31. (NEW) Damian Green
Secretary of State for Work & Pensions
A close friend of Theresa May from their university days, Damian Green was always tipped to return to ministerial office if she became leader. This may not be his dream department, but it’s an astute appointment by May, as he always comes across on the media as the voice of sweet Tory reason.
32. (NEW) Richard Harrington
PUSS, Department of Work & Pensions
The highest ranking junior minister, Harrington became close to May while in his job as minister for Syrian refugees at the Home Office. At a recent dinner with Theresa May for her closest confidantes, Harrington was one of the eight people present.
33. (NEW) John Godfrey
Head of the Number Ten Policy Unit
A former Home Office SPAD in the 1990s Godfrey comes to the job from a nine year stint running Comms for Legal & General. A staunch supporter of the union, it will be interesting to see how radical he will be in terms of new policy proposals.
34. (-13) Lord Daniel Finkelstein
Columnist, The Times
Finkelstein drops 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.
35. (+15) Brandon Lewis
Minister for Police and the Fire Service
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.
36. (+19) 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. He is thought to be the link man with David Davis’s Brexit department for Theresa May.
37. (+32) Liz Truss
Secretary of State for Justice
Last year we said that Liz Truss’s “all too obvious leadership ambitions will be thwarted unless she is able to show more of what she is undoubtedly capable of “ by being moved from DEFRA. We were right. They were and she wasn’t. However, her appointment to Justice was, shall we say, one of the more jaw-dropping of the reshuffle. Another square peg in a round hole role, we fear. However, it’s one of the more senior jobs in cabinet, so she rises in this year’s list.
38. (+22) James Chapman
Chief of Staff to David Davis
The former political editor of the Daily Mail was Comms Director for George Osborne at The Treasury and a staunch advocate of Britain remaining in the EU. So when he was appointed by David Davis to a new role as his chief of staff, many were rather surprised to say the least. But it proves what a valuable asset Davis thinks he will be.
39. (-28) Michael Gove
Former Secretary of State for Justice
What a difference a year makes. Gove plummets down this list for obvious reasons. However, don’t bet against him making a return to the top twenty – perhaps not next year, or even the year after, but Theresa May knows he makes a dangerous opponent on the back benches and has given him hope of a return if he keeps his nose clean. So far he has. So far…
40. (-8) Andrew Tyrie
Chairman, Treasury Select Committee
Tyrie has been an excellent chairman of the Treasury Select Committee. He may radiate calmness and niceness, but he has the forensic ability to question a witness which some of his colleagues sadly do not. Likely to remain in the spotlight as he quizzes Brexit ministers.
41. (+12) 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. An articulate exponent of right of centre politics, one wonders what his next move will be. Perhaps into elected politics?
42. (+15) Priti Patel
Secretary of State for International Development
Said to regret not standing for the leadership, Priti Patel’sprofile inevitably rose during the referendum campaign. However, to appoint her to run a department she would quite like to abolish shows Theresa May has a wicked sense of humour.
43. (NEW) Anne Milton
Deputy Chief Whip
A former nurse and subsequently a junior health minister, Anne Milton has been a very effective whip. Many thought she might get the top job, but it wasn’t to be. Very popular in the parliamentary party, Milton’s rise has been slow but sure. We think she will continue her ascent.
44. (+26) Syed Kamall
Leader of the European Conservatives & Reformists in the European Parliament
Fought a competent campaign to get the nomination for Conservative candidate for London mayor, coming second. Kamall was the subject of a tirade of abuse in a telephone call from David Cameron when he announced he was supporting Leave, but as things have turned out, that has done his career prospects no harm at all. Likely to get a Westminster seat in 2020.
45. (NEW) 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. Polly Evans is a long term friend of Theresa May from her Women2Win days. And that’s about as much as we know!
46. (+5) Mark Littlewood
Director General of the 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.
47. (+33) Arron Banks
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, his forthcoming ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ diaries are likely to shock and amuse in equal measure.
48. (NEW) Lizzie Loudon
Press Secretary to Theresa May
A very effective operator she had previously been a SPAD for Iain Duncan Smith and press officer for Vote Leave.
49. (-31) Iain Duncan Smith
Former Leader of the Conservative Party
Having resigned from the government earlier in the year he then became one of the most vocal leaders of Vote Leave. His cabinet career appears at an end and he will now carve out a niche for himself as a distinguished elder statesman of the Conservative Party. He will be a leading proponent of holding the government’s feet to the fire to ensure no backsliding over Brexit.
50. (-49) David Cameron
Former Prime Minister
Having been in the top two of this list ever since its inception in 2007 our panel found it very difficult to place David Cameron this year, for obvious reasons. So we copped out and placed him half way down. He would have been higher if he’d stayed in parliament, but it seems clear that he won’t be participating in active politics and will instead concentrate on writing his memoirs.
51. (-15) 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 last Conservative manifesto, but that failed to propel his career forward. If he doesn’t make the cabinet in the next reshuffle, it’s doubtful he ever will.
52. (NEW) Bernard Jenkin
Chair, Public Administration Select Committee
Bernard Jenkin has had a good year. A leading light in the campaign to leave the referendum, he has also been a very effective head of the Public Administration Select Committee.
53. (-38) Mark Harper
Former Chief Whip
Thought to be a shoo-in as a minister in Theresa May’s first cabinet, Mark Harper must have been devastated when he was offered a demotion from Chief Whip to a minister of state. He decided to resign from the government instead. A very talented politician, it is a mystery as to why he was given the heave-ho.
54. (+27) 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. Her flip-flopping on the Referendum may have annoyed some, but the public like and respect her.
55. (-15) Anna Soubry
MP for Broxstowe
Another talented Minister who is out of government, Soubry was thought to be at the front of the queue of ministers of state knocking on the cabinet door. She irritated many with her OTT pronouncements on Brexit, but she has become and accomplished media performer and is a massive loss to the front bench.
56. (-15) 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.
57. (-12) Neil O’Brien
Special Adviser to Theresa May
The former head of Policy Exchange, O’Brien was the man behind the George Osborne’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and came up with many of Osborne’s more populist ideas. Since Osborne’s demise he has moved from No 11 to No 10 and is now a key adviser to Theresa May.
58. (-39) 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 has already become the most outspoken critics of the Prime Minister on the Tory benches. Time will tell if this is a good move on her part or not.
59. (-31) Robert Halfon
Minister of State, Department of Education
One of the most popular members of the parliamentary party, Halfon had a difficult year, surviving a personal minor scandal to live another day. He was promoted in the July reshuffle, and is an outside bet to join the cabinet before too long.
60. (+7) Katie Hopkins
Columnist, Mail Online & LBC Presenter
The woman people seem to love to hate, she’s actually quite a pussycat. She may have lost her Sun column, but she immediately bounced back by bagging a role on MailOnline and a weekly LBC show.
61. (NEW) Jimmy McLoughlin
Head of Business Relations, Number Ten Downing Street
A popular young(ish) Tory activist, McLoughlin has spent the past few years advising businesses through his employment as a public affairs consultant. He is a popular new addition to the Number 10 staff.
62. (NEW) Stephen Phillips
Secretary to the Conservative Party Board
A career Conservative Party apparatchik, Phillips started life as an agent but has been a fixture at Conservative Campaign Headquarters for at least two decades. No changes of note in the party get passed through without his approval. A real behind the scenes mover and shaker.
63. (-18) Tim Montgomerie
Columnist, The Times
Montgomerie was supposed to have spent the last year in the US, but because of the Referendum he’s made more transatlantic trips than a BA 747. Had a different candidate replaced David Cameron he may have hoped for a senior position in Number Ten, but instead he retains his position as an influential Times columnist.
64. (-2) 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 last year. He influence on Conservative policy towards the Middle East is unlikely to decline.
65. (NEW) 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 over the next twelve months.
66. (-) Paul Staines
Managing Editor, Guido Fawkes blog
The site everyone in politics loves to read, unless they feature on it. Staines has built up an impressive business and survived the loss of Harry Cole to the world of tabloid journalism. Alex Wickham has proved to be an able replacement.
67. (NEW) Diane James
Leader of UKIP
It wasn’t a surprise that Diane James beat her rather unimpressive colleagues to take over the leadership of UKIP, the surprise was that she ran at all. Her problem over the next year will be to escape Nigel Farage’s shadow and to find a way of appealing to northern Labour voters. Without their support, she will find it difficult to make any sort of breakthrough.
68. (+5) Dean Godson
Director, Policy Exchange
Godson has made some impressive hires in recent months as Policy Exchange tries to make the transition from Cameron to May. They were seen as almost an adjunct of Number 10 in the Cameron years. We will see if Theresa May has other ideas.
69. (+7) 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.
70. (NEW) Gavin Barwell
Minister for Housing
By common consent one of the nicest people in politics, Gavin Barwell was handed one of the trickiest portfolios in government by Theresa May. If he can get housing policy right, he could well prove to be an election winner.
71. (+8) 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.
72. (-48) Matthew Hancock
Minister of States, DCMS
Widely seen as a demotion, Matthew Hancock insists he has the best job in government as the new minister for digital communication. Hmmm. Seen as George Osborne’s vicar on earth, Hancock has had to quickly adapt to the new era, and has proved to be a great survivor.
73. (+5) Simon Heffer
Columnist, Sunday Telegraph
He may not be a modern Conservative’s cup of tea but he’s unmissable. A truly brilliant writer he gets to the nub of an argument more quickly than most and his books are unrivalled.
74. (-63) 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 he will find it difficult to recover. Some say it will be impossible. It was therefore easy for Theresa May to demote him.
75. (NEW) Arlene Foster
First Minister of Northern Ireland
A slight unknown quantity to people outside Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster has proved to be a popular successor to Peter Robinson. She needs to up her profile in Westminster and on the UK-wide media.
76. (NEW) Sam Bowman
Executive Director, Adam Smith Institute
One of the brightest new proponents of libertarianism and free market economic, he has had good teachers in Madsen Pirie and Eamonn Butler.
77. (NEW) Will Walden
Director of Communications to Boris Johnson
A big bluff character who doesn’t suffer fools gladly he is one of the few people who is able to discipline Boris, and seems to rather enjoy doing it. Boris’s successful transition to Foreign Secretary is in no small part down to Walden.
78. (NEW) David Lidington
Leader of the House of Commons
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. He’ll never make the headlines, but he’s in a job which is vital to the smooth functioning of government. And if anyone fits a job like a hand in a glove, he does.
79. (-63) Zac Goldsmith
MP for Richmond Park
It’s certainly not been an easy year for Zac, and it could yet get worse. Having lost the campaign to be London mayor, he has almost disappeared from public view. With the Heathrow decision about to land, he’s likely to hit the headlines again.
80. (NEW) Poppy Trowbridge
Special Adviser to Philip Hammond
In personality terms, the polar opposite to her new boss, Poppy Trowbridge has been brought in to do for Philip Hammond what Thea Rodgers did for George Osborne. Her experience as Sky’s Consumer Affairs Editor will be invaluable in advising the Chancellor on some of his more hard-edged policies.
81. (-39) 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.
82. (-38) Douglas Carswell
UKIP MEP for Clacton
Last year we said: “Nowadays he looks a fish out of water in UKIP and one can’t help wondering whether he has come to regret his defection.” That still holds true today espite Nigel Farage’s retirement as leader. He has promised his full support to Diane James, but it’s likely he will continue to plough a lonely furrow.
83. (-24) 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 has made a blinding start in her new job. She drops in this year’s list as she hasn’t been around for much of the year, being on maternity leave. Still one to watch, though.
84. (-23) Dominic Cummings
Former Communications Director, Vote Leave
Cummings played a key role in Vote Leave and retains his reputation as a brilliant campaigning strategist, even if he is reviled by large parts of the centre right. It will be interesting to see what his next move is.
85. (-13) Sir Eric Pickles
Conservative MP for Brentwood & Ongar
One of the best performing cabinet ministers in the coalition, Pickles should never have been disposed of. But he’s bounced back by leading a task force on corruption and becoming chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel.
86. (NEW) Steven Woolfe
Many UKIPpers scratcher their heads in collective bewilderment when Stephen Woolfe laid down and accepted his party’s decision to ban him from standing for the leadership on the basis he had submitted his nomination papers a few minutes late. Time will tell if he can recover.
87. (NEW) Toby Young
Columnist & Broadcaster
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.
88. (NEW) Roger Scruton
It’s a crime that Scruton hasn’t been an ever-present on this list since its inception. His written articulation of what it is to be a Conservative should be read by anyone who has even the vaguest aspiration to describe themselves as one.
89. (-38) Suzanne Evans
Former UKIP Deputy Chairman
Having written the UKIP manifesto, and getting many plaudits for it, Evans was seemingly Nigel Farage’s heir apparent, but he then took against her and she ended up with a six month suspension from the party. Many are surprised that she hasn’t returned to the Conservatives and it will be interesting now to see what role within UKIP she carves out for herself.
90. (NEW) Lord George Bridges
Minister of State, Department for Leaving the EU
Tasked with selling the Brexit negotiations to the House of Lords, Theresa May couldn’t have picked a better number two for David Davis. Thoughtful, brainy and collegiate, he’s the ideal candidate for the role.
91. (-1) 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.
92. (NEW) George Freeman
Chair, Prime Minister’s Policy Board
Freeman has been vocal in selling his new position, chairing the PM’s policy board, as a promotion from his previous role as Minister of State for Life Sciences. Hmmm. Up to a point Lord Copper. He will now have to prove he can have real influence on policy development.
93. (-47) Donal Blaney
Founder of the Margaret Thatcher Centre and Young Britons Foundation
To say this has been a difficult year for Donal Blaney would be an understatement. It has been dominated by the aftershocks of the tragic death of Elliot Johnson. Blaney closed down YBF and resigned from Conservative Way Forward. He may have plummeted on this list, but he will be back.
94. (NEW) Martin Durkin
His ‘Brexit: The Movie’, largely funded by Arron Banks, was a brilliant example of the polemical documentary and given that it was entirely on online project, attracted a huge audience.
95. (NEW) 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.
96. (NEW) Ryan Shorthouse
Director, Bright Blue
A graduate of the Social Market Foundation, Ryan Shorthouse has given Bright Blue a much higher profile in Tory circles and is a star of the future. He has a unique ability to explain complicated economic policies in simple terms.
97. (-) 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’s recently taken over the morning slot on the new talkRadio.
98. (NEW) Simon Burton
Special Advisor to the Chief Whip
By no means well know, Burton has one of the most important special advisor jobs in government, especially given the inexperience of his boss.
99. (-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. Last year 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!
100. (NEW) John Hayes
Minister of State, Department of Transport
Everyone had assumed that Hayes had served his time and would be ousted in Theresa May’s reshuffle, but it wasn’t to be. There is huge speculation as to the photos he must have in his possession. He returns to the Department from where it is rumoured the Permanent Secretary demanded he be moved some years ago.
30 Sep 2016 at 14:56
I’ve been to between 50 and 60 party conferences over the years – Conservative, Labour and LibDem. This year’s Labour conference in Liverpool was undoubtedly one of the flattest ever. I’d be surprised if there were more than 40 MPs there. Many of the delegates spent most of their time at the rival Momentum event across town, which meant that at times it felt like tumbleweed was blowing through the conference centre. The commercial exhibition should have been renamed the Affiliated Labour Organisations Exhibition, seeing as most of the stands were organisations like the Cuban Solidarity Campaign, various trade unions and the Anti-Jewish Society. OK, I made that last one up. The only private sector exhibitors were the Royal Mail and Global Radio. Both stands would have cost an arm and a leg, yet on the party leader’s tour of the exhibition, Jeremy Corbyn blanked them both – not necessarily his fault, as he only goes where his staff lead him, I suppose, but even so, it’s yet another example of private business being treated like something they scrape off the bottom of their feet.
Last time I was in Liverpool, for the Labour conference in 2011, I got into trouble when I wrote a blogpost slagging off the hotel I was staying in (The Adelphi, since you ask) and saying that as a city, well., I just didn’t like it. Suddenly, I knew how Boris Johnson felt. I became public enemy number 1. There were phone-ins on local radio about me, so I was told. Indeed, I was summoned onto Radio City to explain myself. In the circumstances you have a choice. You either apologise fully and explain that you didn’t know what you were thinking and must have been having a bad day. Or you stick to your guns. I chose the latter course of action. Four years on, I have to say I felt things had changed. OK, my hotel may have been a bit dowdy, but it was perfectly acceptable. The docks area had been developed further and is really impressive, and judging from the three evening meals I had, the restaurants are superb. One meal at San Carlo was the best meal I have had this year. Many people confirmed my view that Liverpool ought to be a culinary destination in its own right. Who’d have thought?
Given that Brexit is the biggest political issue of the time, you might have thought there would have been a lot of time devoted to it at the Labour Conference, but no. Not only was there no debate on the conference floor, it didn’t even figure in any of the eight debates chosen by conference delegates. Jeremy Corbyn spent less than two minutes on it during his hour long speech. Quite incredible. Mind you, I’m not sure it will be a lot different in Birmingham next week. Foreign Affairs is covered on Sunday afternoon, traditionally a dead period in the conference agenda, mainly because half of the representatives won’t have arrived.
When my panel of experts convened to compile this year’s Top 100 People on the Right, I knew one of the most difficult things would be where to place last year’s number one, David Cameron. And indeed last year’s number two, George Osborne. You’ll be able to find out on Monday morning when the list appears here on ConservativeHome.
I hope some of you might want to come along to the ConHome Fringe meeting on Tuesday lunchtime, when I’ll be conducting an ‘In Conversation with David Davis’. It’s in Hall 1 of the ICC from 12.45-2pm. I’m also speaking at a FOREST/TMA fringe meeting on Monday evening from 9pm at the Nuvo Bar. It’s titled ‘Eat, Drink, Smoke, Vape’. I’ll be explaining why no one who calls themselves a Conservative can be in favour of things like a sugar tax. Given I don’t drink, smoke or vape, I’ve been mulling over why I’m an appropriate speaker at this event, but maybe that’s the point!
He’s been a fool and probably worse, but I can’t help feel sorry for Sam Allardyce. One can only imagine the personal humiliation he is feeling. I felt the same emotion towards Keith Vaz. Indeed, I always feel sorry for people involved in humiliating scandals. It’s so easy to join the mob who delight in condemning. It’s so easy to shout from the sidelines but perhaps we would all do better to look at our own lives. Few of us can put our hands on our hearts and say we lead totally blameless lives and that we have never done anything we wouldn’t be happy to see on the front page of a national newspaper. I suppose I should reveal my own dark secret which I would be ashamed to see on the front page of The Sun. Yes, I own 150 Cliff Richard CDs. Go on, do your worst.
I really hope that Theresa May and David Davis stick to their guns and don’t go into any detail at all on their strategy to leave the EU. Only a fool gives away their negotiating position at the beginning of negotiation. You’d have thought that Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry and Ken Clarke might realise this, but oh no. The three of them helpfully appear on the media to tell the world that the government is in a mess and have no clue what they are doing. Like they’re in any position to know. If they actually had the interests of their country or their party at heart they would shut the **** up. But their desire to remain relevant to the debate trumps every other consideration. Their only relevance to this debate is that they were and are on the wrong side of the argument, and cannot accept that the British people didn’t take their oh so wise advice and vote ‘Remain’. My advice to them is that they should only open their mouths if they have something helpful to say. If they have anything unhelpful to say, maybe they should say it in private to Theresa May or David Davis. And then prepare themselves for the response…
24 Sep 2016 at 09:00
Iain Dale and his panel of experts choose their Top 100 Most Influential People On The Left list – and after a remarkable year for Labour, there have been some dramatic changes.
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 Left.
Back in 2007, Gordon Brown topped the list, but of the other 99 people included, 87 of them do not figure on the 2016 list.
This year our panel comprised of an MP, a Labour SPAD, a left of centre journalist and a left wing historian and a former Labour adviser. The most difficult thing when deciding who to include an 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 Labour Party and its leader.
In all, there are 29 new entries in the whole list, on top of the 45 which appeared last year. Out go Stuart Hosie, Humza Yousaf and Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh from the SNP. Ken Livingstone, Jim Kennedy, Jon Cruddas, Alan Johnson, John Mills and possibly surprisingly George Galloway are all ejected, along with former Shadow Cabinet members Chris Bryant, Seema Malhotra, Maria Eagle, John Healey, Lord Falconer and Vernon Coaker.
In come a whole host of Corbynistas like Richard Burgon, Sam Tarry, Peter Willsman, Rachel Shabi, James Meadway, Andrew Fisher, James Schneider and Karie Murphy. Seumas Milne is the highest new entry at number five. The Greens are represented by their co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, while the SNP surprisingly only take 4 places in the whole list.
The panel also did a bit of star spotting by including newly elected MP Stephen Kinnock and the new mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees.
People always look at individuals on lists like this and sniff the political wind to find out if their heroes are on their way up and their anti-Christs are on their way down or even out. There’s little doubt that following Jeremy Corbyn’s enormous victory the left and their supporters are on the rise, while new Labour establishment figures are on the wane as figures of influence.
One of the highest risers is the Shadow Defence Secretary Clive Lewis (89 to 15). Sadiq Khan rises from 14 to 3 and the chair of Momentum John Lansman enters the top ten at number eight, up from 61. Emily Thornberry’s Lazarus-like rehabilitation sees her come in at number 17, while Paul Mason rises nearly fifty places to 21. Jess Phillips rises up the list, from 94 to 47.
If Jeremy Corbyn persuades a whole host of malcontents to rejoin his front bench team in the next few weeks, this list could be out of date before the ink is dry. But the lesson this year is that the left have well and truly entrenched themselves in the upper echelons of this list and the right is well and truly in retreat. It’s difficult to see that changing any time soon.
Jeremy Corbyn Name Sign
1. (-) Jeremy Corbyn
Leader of the Labour Party
With a new mandate, how will he use it? He says he wants to unite the party but it’s difficult to see how it’s possible. Will he become his own man or remain under the apparent control of McDonnell and Milne?
2. (-) Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister of Scotland
Sturgeon’s reputation will stand or fall on the result of a second independence referendum. Will she have the courage to push for it?
3. (+11) Sadiq Khan
Mayor of London
Having won the mayoralty by a big margin, Khan has got off to a storming start in the job. Much more of this and people will be putting him forward as the next leader of the Labour Party. He would do well to ignore such praise and just carry on with the job.
4. (-) John McDonnell
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Possibly the most unlikely appointment since Caligula made his horse a senator. McDonnell holds huge away over Corbyn. Some say he is Corbyn’s Svengali. There’s no doubt that Corbyn doesn’t do anything without the say so of McDonnell and the next man on this list…
5. (NEW) Seumas Milne
Director of Communications & Strategy
A “tankie” whose strategy is to only allow Corbyn to be interviewed by vaguely sympathetic interviewers if he can get away with it. Like McDonnell, he holds huge influence over Corbyn. The fact that he apparently speaks to George Galloway every day (according to Galloway) tells us a lot.
6. (-3) Tom Watson
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Watson is one member of the Shadow Cabinet that McDonnell and Milne can’t get rid of. He’s elected and he is there to stay. Gradually he is making his views on Corbyn known and it will be interesting to see if and when his patience snaps.
7. (-2) Len McCluskey
General Secretary, UNITE
McCluskey has stayed loyal to Corbyn, even though it’s clear he is frustrated by his performance. His union continues to fund the party to a massive extent, but if the polls remain as they are, will Unite really fund Labour to the extent that they did at the last election?
8. (+53) Jon Lansman
Founder & Chair, Momentum
Lansman has managed, despite himself, to stay in the background but this may now change with Corbyn’s new mandate. Momentum’s influence is only going to increase and Lansman knows exactly how to ensure that happens.
9. (NEW) Andrew Fisher
Director of Policy
Fisher has a controversial past but is very adept at imposing himself and his views. One of Corbyn’s most trusted lieutenants, he is likely to become even more influential over the next twelve months as he starts drafting some firm policies.
10. (+10) Diane Abbott
Shadow Heath Secretary
Abbott has managed to stay out of trouble and after all the mass resignations she was rewarded with the more profile role of Shadow Health Secretary. She is said to have been disappointed not to have bagged the Foreign Affairs portfolio. Would die in a ditch for her leader.
11. (-3) Rosie Winterton
Winterton is a great survivor. Corbyn doesn’t trust her an inch, but so far he hasn’t dared to get rid of her. That might change imminently.
12. (+27) Andrew Murray
Chief of Staff at UNITE & Chair of the Stop the War Coalition
A deeply divisive figure, Murray has now succeeded Jeremy Corbyn as chair of the Stop the War Coalition, a position he had previously held. But UNITE is his main powerbase and he is the power behind Len McCluskey’s throne.
13. (+10) Frances O’Grady
General Secretary, TUC
O’Grady’s profile has quietly risen in the last twelve months and her advice is likely to be sought more and more from a more trade union friendly Labour Party. Several of her campaigns have cut through and she had a high profile in the EU referendum campaign.
14. (+1) Dave Prentis
General Secretary of UNISON
Another general secretary who will be looking for a more union friendly approach from a Corbyn-led Labour Party. Prentis is a softly spoken moderate and any influence he exerts will be behind the scenes rather than shouted from the ramparts. A resolute defender of Corbyn in the media.
15. (+74) Clive Lewis
Shadow Defence Secretary
Articulate and eloquent, Lewis is seen as one of the left’s bright hopes for the future. An ex-soldier who served in Afghanistan, he turned down the role of Shadow Defence Secretary on two occasions, before relenting in June. A real candidate to succeed Corbyn.
16. (+9) Lisa Nandy
Former Shadow Energy & Climate Change Secretary
If Jeremy Corbyn were to fall under a bus, some in the Labour left were looking to Lisa Nandy as the candidate of the left in a future leadership election. However, given she resigned from the front bench in June, she may have her work cut out. Co-edited a book on the future of the left with Caroline Lucas called THE ALTERNATIVE.
17. (NEW) Emily Thornberry
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Like a phoenix from the ashes, Thornberry has recovered from her white van moment to rise, almost by accident, to the top of the Shadow Cabinet. Rather gaffe prone in interviews she will have a huge profile over the next 12 months as the party decides its policy on Trident.
18. (-2) Yvette Cooper
Former Labour leadership candidate
Although beaten into third place, she emerged from the 2015 leadership campaign with some credit, and has retained a high media profile. She is a contender for the chairmanship of the Home Affairs select committee.
19. (-12) Angela Eagle
Former Shadow Business Secretary
The shadow chancellor who never was, and the challenger to Jeremy Corbyn that never was. The next 12 months may see her disappear without trace, but many are hoping she will continue to be one of the saner voices in the Labour Party and push her centrist agenda.
20. (+1) Andy Burnham
Shadow Home Secretary & Candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester
One of the several Labour politicians who now see their future outside the Commons, Burnham will be a shoo-in as Mayor of Greater Manchester. He will surely leave his post as Shadow Home Secretary in the next few weeks.
21. (+52) Paul Mason
Freelance Journalist & Commentator
Some say he is Corbyn’s “Comical Ali”, others see him as a guru. Said to have turned down a senior advisory job with Corbyn, he will be an ever louder voice on the media representing Corbyn’s brand of politics.
22. (+30) Caroline Lucas
Co-Leader of the Green Party
Lucas’s profile will increase once again now that she has taken over the co-leadership of the Green Party.
23. (NEW) Tim Roache
General Secretary, GMB
Roache isn’t the media friendly performer that his predecessor Paul Kenny was, and it will be interesting to see how he tries to influence the Labour leadership given that his union backed Owen Smith in the recent leadership contest.
24. (-9) Owen Jones
A year of flip-flopping has seen Owen Jones fall on this year’s list. He knows Corbyn can’t win and has taken a risk by saying so. The resulting opprobrium has damaged his image as the golden boy of the left.
25. (-15) Neale Coleman
Director of Policy for the Mayor of London
Coleman fell out of favour with Seumas Milne and resigned as Corbyn’s policy director, leaving to go to advise the Labour candidate for the Bristol mayoralty. He’s since become Sadiq Khan’s head of policy.
26. (-12) Iain McNicol
General Secretary of the Labour Party
A dead man walking. Corbyn, McDonnell and Milne are determined to get his scalp and in all likelihood they will. He’s had a terrible task over the last twelve months but has performed it with dignity and decorum despite severe provocation.
27. (NEW) Karie Murphy
Office Manager to Jeremy Corbyn
Said to be the oil that lubricates the Corbyn machine, Murphy is one of they key members of his operation.
28. (-5) Chuka Umunna
Former Shadow Business Secretary
Umunna has kept up a high media profile, especially during the referendum campaign but can he succeed in his ambition to become chairman of the Home Affairs select committee. Not if Yvette Cooper has anything to do with it.
29. (+36) Kevin Maguire
Assistant Editor, Daily Mirror
Wisely turned down the job as Corbyn’s Head of Communications, Maguire has become the go to voice for those who want to know what is going on at the top of the Labour Party. Even though he has been critical of Corbyn’s performance, Corbyn’s people know they can’t afford to alienate him.
30. (-1) Alicia Kennedy
Having run Tom Watson’s deputy leadership campaign Kennedy is the power behind the throne. A true party insider, she knows where a lot of bodies are buried.
31. (-) Gordon Brown
Former Prime Minister
Gordon Brown’s role in the Scottish referendum victory and indeed his attempt to reinvigorate the Remain campaign have kept him high on this list. However, he has so far failed to carve out a real role for himself.
32. (-4) Owen Smith
Former Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary & Leadership Candidate
A high new entry last year, Smith’s profile has been raised by his leadership challenge. However, his campaign never caught fire and was hit by several strategic errors. He is likely to continue to be a thorn in Corbyn’s side, but how bad his bite will be remains to be seen.
33. (NEW) Angela Rayner
Shadow Education Secretary
A rising star, Rayner has found her voice in the fight against Theresa May’s grammar school proposals but the jury is out on how far she will go.
34. (NEW) Kate Osamor
Shadow International Development Secretary
Seen as a competent performer, Osamor needs to develop a higher public profile, which is not easy to do in this role.
35. (NEW) James Schneider
National Organiser, Momentum
Schneider has been adept at carving out a high media profile for himself. How far Momentum’s success is down to his organisational abilities is debateable, but there’s no doubt that he is a very competent, charming public face for the insurgent organisation.
36. (NEW) Shami Charkrabarti
Shami Chakrabarti will have been horrified by the headlines generated by her peerage. She is so high on this list because we consider a shoo-in for Jeremy Corbyn’s new shadow cabinet, probably as Shadow Justice Secretary, or even Shadow Home Secretary.
37. (-28) Hilary Benn
Former Shadow Foreign Secretary
Last year we wrote: “One of the great survivors of modern politics, Hilary Benn is popular among his colleagues and is likely to stand up to any excesses of the Corbyn leadership with both determination and grace.” He did, and he’s now out. Likely to run to be chair of the new Brexit select committee.
38. (-3) Alex Salmond
SNP Foreign Affairs Spokesman
Retains a huge ability to grab the headlines but you get the feeling he feels his current role is somewhat beneath him. He’s pushing hard for a second referendum before Brexit occurs, and if it does, he will be one of the key figures.
39. (-9) Heidi Alexander
Former Shadow Health Secretary
One of the nicest people in parliament, Alexander was given a huge promotion when she was appointed to the Health portfolio, where she did an excellent job. Her resignation was clearly very painful to her. She ought to be a major player in the Labour Party’s future.
40. (NEW) J K Rowling
Labour Party donor
J K Rowling has developed a knack of speaking out rarely, but effectively. Her donations both to Labour and to the Remain campaign inevitably confer influence.
41. (NEW) Ed Balls
His excellent memoir Speaking Out has become a bestseller, and deservedly so. His profile on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ will give him a new platform and although a political comeback is unlikely, never rule anything out.
42. (-2) Carwyn Jones
Welsh First Minister
The most powerful Labour politician in the land, Jones has never bothered to build a UK wide profile and concentrates on his role in Wales.
43. (NEW) Ashuska Asthana/Heather Stewart
Joint Political Editors of The Guardian
They have confounded those who thought a political editor job share could never work. They’ve broken big stories and each developed a good media profile.
44. (-12) Polly Toynbee
Last year we wrote: “Toynbee has been a surprising Corbyn sympathiser…but it’s inevitable that at some point she will part company with Corbyn and his team.” It didn’t take long.
45. (+18) Angus Robertson
Leader of the SNP in Westminster
Consistently asks the questions at PMQs that Jeremy Corbyn fails to. Is standing to be deputy leader of the SNP and should win easily. Has managed to keep Alex Salmond in his box in Westminster. No mean achievement.
46. (+36) Jonathan Ashworth
Shadow Minister without portfolio & NEC member
Has been a critic of Corbyn but has decided to hang on in there in the Shadow Cabinet. Consistently walks a political tightrope, but is an impressive media performer.
47. (+47) Jess Phillips
Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley
Last year we wrote: “Anyone who has the balls to tell Diane Abbott to ‘fuck off’ in a PLP meeting deserves to make this list. Phillips is going to be one of the characters of the new Parliament.” We were right. She’s just ousted Dawn Butler to become chair of the Women’s PLP and is writing a book.
48. (-37) Harriet Harman
Former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Influential behind the scenes, Harman has become more outspoken as the months go by. She will soon be publishing her memoirs, guaranteeing a continuing high profile.
49. (+10) Jenny Formby
Political Director, UNITE
It could be argued that Jenny Formby is of even more significance than her general secretary given that she can fund political campaigns across the spectrum and influence candidate selections.
50. (-7) John Cryer
Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party
Last year we wrote: “John Cryer has the mother of all tasks in preventing all out civil war within the parliamentary party and his diplomatic skills are likely to be tested to the full, especially if Labour does badly in the various elections next May.” Well, he is still there…
51. (+7) Helen Lewis
Deputy Editor, New Statesman
Lewis’s profile is gradually on the rise and she is considered one of the more balanced and thoughtful commentators on the centre left.
52. (-14) Cat Smith
Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement & Youth Affairs
Cat Smith worked for six years in Jeremy Corbyn’s office and knows him better than most. An ultra-leftie herself, she was among the first to nominate Corbyn and will continue to be an influence on him. Perhaps not been as high profile as we expected last year.
53. (-12) Kezia Dugdale
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party
Who would have Kezia Dugdale’s job? Possibly the most unenviable job in British politics at the moment. She took Labour from 2nd place to 3rd in Scotland in May, or was it Corbyn? Time will tell if she can take Labour forward.
54. (+3) Jason Cowley
Editor, New Statesman
Cowley has been considered more of a literary specialist than a political one, but his skilful steering of the New Statesman has resulted in the magazine and its website becoming a required political read across the spectrum.
55. (-11) John Woodcock
Labour MP for Barrow in Furness
One of the MPs not afraid to confront the Corynistas and tell it like it is, despite the bullying and aggression he has encountered.
56. (-32) Jon Trickett
Shadow Business Secretary
Formerly chief poilitical advisor to Ed Miliband, Jon Trickett has made the transition seemlessly to the new guard. However, he has failed to build a public profile outside the left of the Labour Party.
57. (+11) Luke Akehurst
Secretary, Labour First
One of the most talented Labour people never to have become MP. His Labour First group is gaining in influence and he may be a key figure in uniting the right of the party. Again failed to be elected to the NEC, though.
58. (+12) Mark Serwotka
General Secretary, PCS
A very popular union leader. Serwotka has courageously struggled with his health in recent times but remains one of the most influential people in the trade union movement.
59. (-8) Dan Jarvis
Labour MP for Barnsley
Labour’s lost leader. Had he run for leader in 2015 or indeed 2016 he may have made a much bigger impression than the other candidates who lost. However, he is finding it difficult to carve out a niche for himself. The next twelve months will be vital for him.
60. (+2) John Swinney
SNP Deputy First Minister of Scotland
Swinney has bounced back role following his lacklustre period as leader. Like his leader he has a well developed sense of humour and provides the ballast in the SNP’s Edinburgh leadership.
61. (+10) Mick Cash
General Secretary, RMT
Cash has had a difficult act to follow, but Bob Crow would have been proud of him with the number of strikes the RMT continues to call. The RMT has yet to reaffiliate to the Labour Party but it can surely only be a matter of time.
62. (-15) Liz Kendall
Former leadership candidate
She is now the undisputed leader of the Blairite right and showed a lot of courage in putting herself forward the leadership so early. Her campaign was mixed to say the least, but she won a lot of friends and made few enemies. She continues to be the predominant holder of the Blairite torch.
63. (+20) Pat McFadden
Former Shadow Europe Minister
Pat McFadden has become one of the ringleaders of opposition to the Corbyn leadership. Quietly spoken, he has proved a force around which the anti-Corbyn forces can unite around.
64. (-38) Gloria de Piero
Former Shadow Minister for Youth Engagement
A key ally of Tom Watson, de Piero was tipped for a big job in the new shadow cabinet but she was sidelined into a youth engagement portfolio, having apparently turned down defence. Since she resigned her role she has been an eloquent voice on the media explaining why the PLP needs to be listened to by the leadership.
65. (-5) Katherine Viner
Editor, The Guardian
The Guardian has steered a rather ambivalent course through Jeremy Corbyn’s first year, afraid to be too confrontational (given that Seumas Milne will one day return from his unpaid leave) but clearly sceptical of the Labour leader’s chances of success. You just get the feeling that The Guardian isn’t influencing the debate in the way that it used to.
66. (-20) Tony Blair
Former Prime Minister
Some say Tony Blair is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the future of Labour but given that if you’re even a tad to the right of Jeremy Corbyn you’re denounced as either a ‘Blairite’ or a ‘Tory’, it just shows that the three time election winning former Prime Minister still continues to shape the debate on the left, just as Margaret Thatcher does so on the right.
67. (-3) Lord David Sainsbury
Philanthropist & Labour donor
A man totally out of sync with the current Labour Party it’s unimaginable he will continue to donate to the national party. Instead, he will concentrate his munificence on Progress and other non Corbynite causes.
68. (-34) Kat Fletcher
Political Adviser on stakeholder engagement to Jeremy Corbyn
Former NUS head, she played a key role in Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and has now taken on the role of fixer-in-chief. At least we think that’s what ‘stakeholder engagement’ is a euphemism for.
69. (-13) Mhairi Black
SNP MP for Paisley & Renfrewshire South
Mhairi Black may not quite have lived up to her maiden speech, but she remains an inspirational figure in Scottish politics.
70. (NEW) Marvin Rees
Mayor of Bristol
Wrestled back the mayoralty of Bristol from an Independent and one of the few black figures in the Labour Party in a position of power.
71. (NEW) John Harris
A growing reputation as an insightful political columnist and often a purveyor of some surprising truths.
72. (-22) Lucy Powell
Former Shadow Education Secretary
Although falling on this year’s list, Lucy Powell remains a politician in the public eye, mainly because she isn’t afraid to call a spade a shovel.
73. (-28) Michael Dugher
Former Shadow Culture, Media & Sport Secretary
One of Jeremy Corbyn’s most vocal critics on the backbenches, he will move heaven and earth to undermine the Labour leader. Am arch plotter who is a very effective political operator.
74. (-38) Stella Creasy
Former deputy leadership candidate
Having fought an excellent deputy leadership election campaign in which she came second, Stella Creasy could have had a job of her asking, but instead she decided not to serve. She’s had a quiet year.
75. (+1) Richard Leese
Leader of Manchester City Council
One of the few local government leaders with a profile, he’s about to be usurped by Andy Burnham. He will do well to appear on next year’s list.
76. (+3) Matt Wrack
General Secretary, FBU
Wrack provided good leadership to his members in the dispute with the government over pay, conditions and pensions, and unusually, he got the public on his side. In the last year he has led his union back into Labour Party affiliation.
77. (NEW) Val Shawcross
Deputy Mayor of London
A veteran of London politics, Shawcross is a vital cog in the Khan mayoralty, just as she was in Ken Livingstone’s.
78. (NEW) Kevin Courtney
General Secretary, National Union of Teachers
Just replaced Christine Blower as General Secretary of a traditionally militant and strike-happy union. It’s too early to judge whether he will follow her policies.
79. (+16) Stephen Bush
Editor of the New Statesman ‘Staggers’ blog
One of the rising stars of a new generation of journalists on the left, he was one of the few to predict the course of last year’s leadership election. An increasing broadcast media profile.
80. (-2) Lloyd Embley
Editor, Daily Mirror
The Mirror was an early recogniser of the defects of the Corbyn leadership and is therefore seen as a hostile force by the Corbynistas.
81. (NEW) Stephen Kinnock
Labour MP for Aberavon
One of the more impressive of the new intake of Labour MPs, he has done well to escape his family surname and be seen as a politician in his own right. Had a ‘good war’ over Tata.
82. (NEW) Richard Burgon
Shadow Minister for Justice
Slightly gaffe-prone, Burgon is widely seen as a tad overpromoted, but the reason is obvious. He’s the biggest Corbyn cheerleader in the shadow cabinet. Reportedly spent eight months as Shadow City Minister without ever meeting anyone from the City. Let’s hope that is aprocrophal.
83. (-2) Baroness Angela Smith
Labour leader in the House of Lords
The role of Labour leader in the House of Lords will be crucial in the Parliament and Smith has declared UDI from the Corbyn leadership. She’s determined that any government defeats will be down to her and her colleagues rather than the Corbynistas taking credit.
84. (-36) Rachel Reeves
Former Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary
Another of Labour’s lost generation who refuse to serve under Jeremy Corbyn. She’s a real loss to the frontbench, but she now has an opportunity to make her mark across all areas of policy. A quiet year. About to publish a biography of one of her predecessors in Leeds, Alice Bacon MP.
85. (-36) Luciana Berger
Former Shadow Mental Health Minister
An impressive performer, she was the only jewish member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow team. It was never going to last, was it? Stood to be mayor of Liverpool but came a very poor third.
86. (NEW) Alison McGovern MP
Chair of Progress
One of the last keepers of the Blairite flame, she remains very close to Gordon Brown, who she latterly served as PPS.
87. (NEW) James Murray
Deputy Mayor of London
Meadway is the new deputy mayor for Housing and has a key influence over policy more widely in the Khan mayoralty.
88. (+4) Neil Kinnock
Former Leader of the Labour Party
Regarded with affection across the Labour Party, Neil Kinnock has taken on the role of a wise old father figure to Labour politicians from all wings. His speech to the PLP about the failures of the Corbyn leadership reminded many of his conference rant against Militant.
89. (NEW) Pete Wilsman
Member, Labour Party NEC
A key supporter of the Corbyn leadership, Willsman is a veteran of far left politics and is an arch plotter against any group considered to the right of the Labour leader.
90. (NEW) Rachel Shabi
Journalist & Commentator
Omnipresent on our screens, the redoubtable Shabi is one of the few Corbyn supporting commentators to be taken seriously by the media.
91. (NEW) Sam Tarry
Political Officer, TSSA & Director of Corby for Leader
A councillor in Barking and Dagenham, despite apparently living in Brighton, Tarry is close to Corbyn and led his team during the second leadership election. An effective operator.
92. (NEW) Matt Forde
Political Commentator & Comedian
An uber-Blairite, Forde has developed a good reputation as a serious political commentator as well as a comedian. His mimicry is astonishingly accurate and he has just bagged a weekly political show on the channel Dave.
93. (NEW) Ayesha Hazirika
Political Commentator & Comedian
Former adviser to Harman and Miliband, Hazirika is now carving out a role for herself in the world of political punditry. She has also revived her stand-up career, appearing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
94. (NEW) Richard Angell
A key player in the struggle to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, Progress has now become seen by some as the right wing rival to Momentum, when it is actually nothing of the sort.
95. (+3) Jim McMahon
Labour MP for Oldham
McMahon entered this list last year when he was Labour leader on the LGA. Having won the Oldham by-election, he is seen as a future leader of the party by some on the right.
96. (NEW) James Meadway
Economic Adviser to John McDonnell
Meadway has overtaken Richard Murphy as the far left’s favoured economic guru. Came to McDonnell from the New Economics Foundation.
97. (NEW) James Bloodworth
Labour blogger and author
Seen as an insightful commentator on the left. A prolific blogger and author, his book THE MYTH OF MERITOCRACY has been very well received.
98. (NEW) Jonathan Bartley
Co-Leader of the Green Party
Undoubtedly Bartley will play second fiddle to his co-leader Caroline Lucas. She will be the public face of the Greens and it will be interesting to see how Bartley carves out a role for himself.
99. (-) Leanne Wood
Leader of Plaid Cymru
In publicity terms Plaid certainly punches above their weight given their consistent lack of ability to really make a breakthrough in the Welsh Assembley.
100. (NEW) Aaron Bastani
Commentator & Founder of Novaro Media
A controversial figure, Bastani has carved an influential role for him and his social media based company and is held high in the affections of Corbyn and his team.
Following the controversial article in the Observer by Julie Burchill, Iain discusses what it's like to be a member of the transgender community in the UK today.
23 Sep 2016 at 14:45
Over the weekend I head up to the Labour Party conference. It’s my 18th conference, but I suspect this will be different to all the others. I’m expecting a very different clientele to be attending. Gone will be the sharp suited youths of the Blair years, present will be a new breed of the hard left. I suspect the atmosphere will be horrible. The Corbynistas will feel that they are at their most powerful and all this talk of Corbyn being magnanimous and making a peace offering to his critics is for the birds. Even if he wanted to, McDonnell wouldn’t allow it. The Shadow Chancellor sticks firmly by the rules of the Trotskyists handbook. Stamp your opponents into the ground when they are at their weakest. Give no quarter. No compromise. See if I’m not right.
This week I convened my panel to compile this year’s Top 100 People on the Right. It consisted of a Conservative MP, a party agent, a prominent Vote Leave campaigner, a broadsheet journalist and a Tory writer. The most enjoyable part of this three hour session was deciding who to eject from last year’s list. It was quite a task given the regime change we’ve been through. Perhaps the most difficult thing to achieve was to agree where David Cameron and George Osborne (last year’s top two) should feature in the list. You will be able to see the results of our deliberations next weekend on ConservativeHome.
So Mary Berry has quit the Great British Bakeoff. Give. A. Toss.
I suspect the viewing figures for the first Presidential debate early on Tuesday morning will be at an all time high in this country. With the polls narrowing there is an awful lot at stake for both candidates. I’d love to be a fly on the wall as the Trump debate prep team take their candidate through what he should and shouldn’t do. “Be the voice of sweet reason and don’t say anything sexist,” shrills one. “Ground the bitch into the dirt,” says another. “Let Donald be Donald,” says another. It will be very interesting to see which of his advisers wins the day. Hillary’s task is to speak human. She’s not a great speaker or a debator, but her strategy surely has to be to show Trump up for what he is – a racist, sexist bully who has no clue on either domestic or foreign policy. Having said all that, Trump has one strong card in his hand -that of the outsider. Like Nigel Farage, he seems to be inspiring people to vote who haven’t voted in years. I am astonished by the number of Democrats who say they can’t vote for Hillary and will therefore vote Trump. The questions is, can they be outnumbered by the Republicans who can’t stick Trump and will hold their noses and vote for Hillary. And to think, that out of 320 million people, these are the best two candidates the Americans could throw up. And I use that phrase advisedly.
The Liberal Democrat conference was held in Brighton this week. Just thought you should know.
I’ve always rather liked Diane James. In case you haven’t a clue who I am talking about, she has just been elected Leader of UKIP. I’ve rarely seen a woman more pumped up with adrenaline than when she accepted the job on stage at the UKIP conference. I did think, though, that Nigel Farage shouldn’t have been on stage. It was her moment, and she should have been allowed to enjoy it on her own and bask in the applause from a very excited audience. Diane is transparently nice, but she is also quite steely. The big question against her, though, is can she appeal to voters in northern Labour seats. They are the key to UKIP’s success in 2020 but she won’t appeal to them in the same way that Nigel Farage did. The other question against her is whether she can escape from Nigel Farage’s shadow. The jury is out on that one. There have been several defections of relatively high profile UKIPpers back to the Conservatives in recent days. I doubt whether this trickle will become a flood, but you never know. If Suzanne Evans decided to make the journey back, I suspect she would be followed by quite a few others.