Governing is a hell of lot tougher than opposition. Governing in Coalition, doubly so. The pace of change set by the coalition has been intense. Not content with merely cutting, project Cameron has also been about reform. Root and branch change that will do a lot more than merely spend less money. In Health, Law and Order, Defence, and Education wholesale reorganisation is the order of the day with many schemes closing but many new ideas being introduced.
Only one Cabinet Minister in these big fields has progressed up these lists this year. That is a reflection of how difficult it is to recraft a political and administrative machine at the same time as you impose in places 40 per cent cuts in funding. The casualties in the Cabinet include Andrew Lansley (Health, down 57 to 88), Kenneth Clarke (Justice, out of top 20 to 61st), and Liam Fox (Defence, out of the top 20).
The exception, in the big spending departments, is Michael Gove. Up 5 to 7th place. He has had a strong year, after a shaky start. It is only a question of time before the knives come out. Destined for bigger things on this year’s performance is Philip Hammond currently at Transport, up from 15 to 9 and Damian Green at immigration up 5 to 30th.
Many of the changes in the top half of this list result from the resignation of Andy Coulson and the reorganisation of the Number Ten machine. The merger of the Number Ten and Cabinet Office press office strengthened further the hand of Steve Hilton, as Director of Policy, who stays at Number 3. As Cameron had promised not to allow the policy unit to grow too much, the SPADs have been appointed as civil servants. In managing modernisation and cuts, a number of key people who have been on long political journeys break into the list this year.
Back in the early 1980s when the Labour Party moved so far to the left it nearly disappeared from the electoral map altogether, moderate social democrats formed a breakaway party – the SDP. The two highest new entries in this year’s list both cut their political teeth in the SDP and its aftermath as many of the social democrats became social market advocates and then joined the conservatives. Both arch modernisers, Andrew Cooper in at 14 and Danny Finkelstein in at 21, represent a considerable move forward for the modernising-(Blairite sic) wing of the new Conservatives. Cooper was brought in as Director of Strategy and was joined by Craig Oliver (in at 24) as Director of Communications. Though Edward Llewellyn retains his special position as gate keeper to the PM these new appointments and the continuing influence of key advisers Rohan Silva up from 91 to 19 and adviser turned MP Matthew Hancock - up from 36 to 20 -, show that the Coalition’s Number 10 now operates on pretty much the same lines as Blair’s did. The most important difference being the unity of purpose at the very top: for the third year running David Cameron and George Osborne are 1 and 2 and their operations continue to appear to be on the same page.
The modernising wing of the party has generally done well this year and those inside the machine continue to wield considerable influence because of their closeness to power. Naturally as the government has got more securely into its stride the opportunities for internal descent have been managed. However given the year that the euro has had, the Eurosceptics have been noticeably less effective – Nigel Farage climbs a little on the strength of his renewed leadership, up to 48, Douglas Carswell slips back from 47 to 59, David Davis from 48 to 55 and George Eustice comes into the list, but only at 86. Even Lord Tebbit slips back a little to 81 and will be disappointed to see Nigel Lawson, who has had an energetic and influential year, join the list just below him at 82. Though not as disappointed as Theresa May (15) will be to see Bill Bratton in at 65. Though the PM did not manage to make him Commissioner of the MET, his advice to the government on gangs might still reshape aspects of the law and order debate.
If there is one new entry in this list that should indicate the extent to which the challenge of the Cameron project is proving even harder than many expected, it is the appearance or rather reappearance of Patrick Rock at 46. When John Smith died in 1994, Rock took his fellow SPAD, David Cameron for a drink, and said that if Blair won, the Conservatives were “f——”. He is now back at the heart of the enlarged Number Ten operation. Bringing in people like Rock will of course help with the centre of the operation but it will not provide the kind of material needed to bring new energy and drive to the Cabinet.
Herein the class of 2010 has proved to be something of a disappointment. Great hopes were vested in Rory Stewart (who drops 3 to 90) and it is said he is listened to by the leadership but little of substance has come from him so far. Priti Patel is typical of the group, remaining static in her impact over the year. More effective has been Nadhim Zahawi, in at 91 and utilising his connections from his time at YouGov to make an impact. A late entry for this list was Murdo Fraser, in at 97 on his plans to scrap the Conservative Party in Scotland.
The room the PM has to reshuffle his pack is limited by the politics of the coalition but the overall performance of the government will need to improve even more than it has done in recent polls if he is to win a working majority. As the list was completed there was renewed talk of a possible challenge in the shape of Boris Johnson returning to the Commons and running for the leadership. He climbs three places, looks a firm favourite to beat Ken Livingstone in the Mayoral race and will have two terms experience behind. If the Olympics go well, you would not put it past him. But for now, the Cameron Project remains in office and increasingly in power, all it now needs are some new Cabinet Ministers.
1.(-) DAVID CAMERON
Prime Minister & Leader of the Conservative Party
There was some debate as to whether George Osborne should be number one this year, but in the end we decided David Cameron’s ultimate power should enable him to prevail again this year. His international influence grows and there is no serious dissent to his continued leadership of the Conservative Party. Yet.
- (-) GEORGE OSBORNE
Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Chancellor has had another good year. He has stuck to his economic guns and grown in stature both domestically and internationally. He continues to show signs of bravery and seems willing to be able to take calculated risks.
- (+7) STEVE HILTON
Director of Strategy, Number 10 Downing Street
With the departure of his rival for Cameron’s ear, Andy Coulson, Steve Hilton rises up the list again this year. As the Big Society begins to take on some real meaning Hilton is in his prime
- (+4) BORIS JOHNSON
Mayor of London
The Boris phenomenon roars on. There is open speculation that he wishes to return to parliament in preparation for a future tilt at the Tory leadership. Before that comes the small matter of winning a second term as mayor of London. Boris is only ever one gaffe away from complete political implosion, but even his enemies admit he has been a btter mayor than they had predicted.
- (+4) EDWARD LLEWELLYN
Chief of Staff, Number 10 Downing Street
A close friend of Cameron since their days at Eton and Oxford, Llewellyn also worked with him in the Conservative Research Department in the early 1990s. He then worked as an adviser to Chris Patten in Hong Kong, before taking up a position with Paddy Ashdown in the Balkans. His role is the lynchpin of Cameron’s private office. Had a tough time during the Coulson affair but has emerged unscathed.
- (+1) WILLIAM HAGUE
His position as defacto Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party remains intact and he continues to be one of the Prime Minister’s closest confidantes as well as remaining hugely popular with the voluntary party. He’s the undoubted “under a bus” candidate if David Cameron should fall by the wayside, although he is said to harbour no future ambitions in that direction.
- (+6) MICHAEL GOVE
Secretary of State for Education
Gove is an ultra Cameroon and remains part of the Cameron inner group. After a difficult start in his job as Education Secretary Gove is laying down the law in his department, which remains implacably opposed to a lot of what he wants to do.
- (-2) ERIC PICKLES
Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government
By common consent, Eric Pickles has been one of the star performers of the coalition so far. He has gripped his department like few other ministers and implemented a dizzy array of eye-catching reforms which have led to massive cuts and efficiencies in his own department’s budget. He is not one of David Cameron’s inner circle, yet he has been a consistently high performer. Some even talk of him as a potential successor to David Cameron.
- (+7) PHILIP HAMMOND
Secretary of State for Transport
Having planned to be Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Philip Hammond was a victim of the need to import LibDem Ministers into the coalition. Since his appointment as Transport Secretary he has been surprisingly radical in some of his decisions. One to watch. He continues to impress.
- (+14) SAMANTHA CAMERON
Wife of the Prime Minister
There’s little doubt that SamCam is used as a key sounding board by her husband and that her views are a great influence on him. She is slowly emerging from her shell and becoming a public figure on her own right.
- (-7) FRANCIS MAUDE
Minister of State, Cabinet Office
Maude forewent a full cabinet post without complaint but is now playing a massively important role in progress chasing throughout government and redrawing the very shape of government. His work on public sector pensions reform and negotiating with the unions has been little remarked upon, but vitally important.
- (-3) LORD ASHCROFT
Former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party
Michael Ashcroft’s influence remains strong. His regular polling, although not conducted for the Conservative Party, are pored upon by strategists of all three parties. His growing political media empire, which includes Total Politics, Biteback Publishing, ConservativeHome and a large stake in Dod’s mean that his political influence continues.
- (+2) IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
Secretary of State for Work & Pensions
Last year we said that IDS seemed to have won a battle with George Osborne over welfare reform, and now would come the hard part – implementing it. Turning round the oil tanker was never going to be easy but IDS seems ready for the battle and has scored some big successes.
- (New) ANDREW COOPER
Director of Strategy, Number 10 Downing Street
A Portilista under the Hague regime, Cooper left the employ of Conservative Central Office to found the polling company Populus. He has remained an important figure on the right and his recruitment to Number Ten earlier this year brought him back into the fold. The question is, can he replace Coulson’s strategic nouse and will he get on with Steve Hilton?
- (-1) THERESA MAY
May made a strong start in a job few had tipped her for. She remains the best known female face (with the best known feet) on the Tory front bench, which insulates against those who don’t ‘get’ her. She began to be talked about as a future leadership contender but an uncertain few days during the London riots silenced much of that talk. Needs to cultivate more support among new Tory MPs.
- (+2) ANDREW FELDMAN
Co-Chairman, Conservative Party
Feldman is one of David Cameron’s close personal friends from his university days, and was treasurer of his leadership campaign. He has made his own fortune through his family clothing firm, Jayroma. He was promoted from his position as chief executive of the party to the co-chairmanship. Baroness Warsi is front of house, while Feldman is tasked with reshaping the party’s finances and headquarters organization.
- (-). OLIVER LETWIN
Minister Without Portfolio
Oliver Letwin is rarely seen in public these days but his reluctance to appear on the nation’s airwaves should not be seen as a sign of diminishing influence. On the contrary. He played a pivotal role in the coalition negotiations and his broader policy remit has been crucial over the last year.
- (+3) PATRICK McLOUGHLIN
Government Chief Whip
The role of Chief Whip in government is a crucial one and Patrick McLoughlin has made an excellent start. Capable of being tough, he also has a publicly hidden tender side and has managed to stem any big rebellions so far. His stock remains high.
- (+73) ROHAN SILVA
Special Advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer
Rohan Silva played a key role in drafting the coalition document and is very highly regarded by both the Chancellor and his cabinet colleagues. Along with Rupert Harrison and Matthew Hancock he developed the party’s economic policy in opposition. He has a very political, forensic brain and fizzes with new ideas.
- (+17) MATTHEW HANCOCK
Member of Parliament for West Suffolk
A former member of George Osborne’s team of special advisors in Opposition he was said to be big loss to the then shadow chancellor when he was selected as a parliamentary candidate. He is a member of the Public Accounts Committee and remains a great influence on the Chancellor, evidenced by the fact that his book MASTERS OF NOTHING was launched in Number 11 Downing Street.
- (New) DANIEL FINKELSTEIN
Chairman, Policy Exchange
Finkelstein was rumoured to have written large chunks of George Osborne’s conference speech this year. One of the best interpreters of Tory prevailing winds, his accession to the chairmanship of Cameron’s favourite think tank means that he becomes an even bigger player in right of centre politics than he was before.
- (+4) GRAHAM BRADY
Chairman of the 1922 Committee
Graham Brady and David Cameron are not, it is safe to say, bosom pals. Brady annoyed the leadership over his outspoken defence of grammar schools, after which he resigned his front bench position as shadow minister for Europe. His decision to run for the chairmanship of the ’22 was fought tooth and nail by the party machine, but he triumphed in the end and is becoming a powerful voice for backbench interests.
- (-3) LIAM FOX
Secretary of State for Defence
Liam Fox is positioning himself as the champion of the right and is not afraid to defend his corner vociferously. But as he turns fifty, colleagues wonder if the fire in his belly has gone. He’s had a difficult start at the MoD but it’s a basket case of a department and he needs time to embed his reforms.
- (New) CRAIG OLIVER
Director of Communications, 10 Downing Street
Newspaper journalist complain that he doesn’t understand them and keeps his distance from them. He’s been a very low profile appointment, but perhaps that’s a good thing. He’s a backroom boy who knows the meaning of the phrase.
- (+15) RUPERT HARRISON
Special Advisor to George Osborne
Smart, urbane and extremely clever, Harrison has been described as one half of George Osborne’s brain. We hesitate to say that he is to Osborne what Ed Balls was to Gordon Brown, but we’d mean it in a positive sense. More important to Osborne than ever. 26. (+68) GRANT SHAPPS
Grant Shapps is one of the most prolific media performers the party has. On the verge of full cabinet membership, he is heavily tipped by some to be the next chairman of the Conservative Party. Fizzing with ideas, he can come across as slightly too full of himself, but his enthusiasm is infectious.
- (+4) MATTHEW ELLIOTT
Former Head of the ‘No to AV’ Campaign
A calm and powerful advocate of low taxes, light regulation and the small state, he made his name as the founder of the Taxpayer’s Alliance. But his influence as a campaigner has grown following his successful leadership of the No to AV campaign. Tipped as the Conservative Party’s next director of campaigning.
- (+1) TIM MONTGOMERIE
Tim Montgomerie can pick up the phone to anyone in the party and they will take the call. His website, a must-read for politicians and activists alike, has managed the transition well from opposition to government. His weekly Sunday Telegraph column has added to his influence.
- (+5) GREG CLARK
Minister of State for Localism
A former director of the Conservative Research Department, Greg Clark was always destined for great things. He joined the shadow cabinet in January 2009 and did a good job squaring up to Ed Miliband on the climate change brief. He was another casualty of the need to include LibDems in the coalition cabinet but his brief on localism gives him a great platform from which to progress in the future. Very calm under fire.
- (+6) DAMIAN GREEN
Minister of State, Home Office
Green is seen as being on the left of the party but remains a popular figure across the party. A leading backer of David Davis (right to the bitter end) in the 2005 leadership contest, he is one of the most talented ministers outside the cabinet. His thoughtful and non aggressive approach to the immigration brief has won him plaudits and earned him a good media profile. Cameron is said to rate him very highly.
- (+7) LORD STRATHCLYDE
Leader of the House of Lords
A popular figures in all parts of the party Tom Strathclyde is part of the fixtures and fittings in the Lords. He is also very influential. He has made himself almost irreplaceable and Cameron relies on him to keep their Lordships in order.
- (-7) MARGARET THATCHER
Former Prime Minister
It took the election of a new Conservative Prime Minister to finally nail the fallacy that the Conservative Party is still trying to come to terms with Margaret Thatcher’s demise twenty years ago. Her shadow no longer casts itself over the entire party, but she is rightly still treated with huge respect and affection.
- (-6) STEPHEN GILBERT
Political Secretary, Number Ten Downing Street
A former Chief Executive of the Party, Gilbert became Michael Ashcroft’s right hand man in planning and delivering the Tories’ campaign in the marginal seats. His new role combines the job of Political Secretary in Number Ten with a campaigning role at CCHQ. He is widely respected throughout the professional party and among former candidates.
- (+35) CHRIS GRAYLING
Minister of State, Department of Work & Pensions
Grayling’s career took a hit last year following his remarks about B&B owners and gay couples. As a consequence he didn’t make the Cabinet. But his calm performance explaining the unemployment figures has led him back to favour. A comeback to the top table can only be a matter of time.
- (+58) GABRIELLE BERTIN
Personal Press Secretary to the Prime Minister
Gaby Bertin took over from George Eustice as David Cameron’s press secretary and is well regarded by the political media. Fiercely protective of him, she is often seen at his side at events protecting him for intrusive interviewers. With the departure of Andy Coulson, Bertin has become much more influential.
- (+25) SIR JOHN MAJOR
Prime Minister 1990-97
Sir John has avoided the mistakes of his predecessors and only comments on current affairs when he has an important point to make. This means that he is listened to very closely. Behind the scenes he is an important source of confidential advice for David Cameron. He was closely consulted by Cameron during the coalition talks.
- (New) PAUL KIRBY
Director, Number 10 Policy Unit
Following the Number 10 rejig after Andy Coulson’s departure, Kirby a former KPMG partner, was brought in as the new Head of Policy Development, leading a team of 8 formulating government policy. Kirby is the man behind the massive shake of the public sector, proposing radical new policies to end the “state monopoly” over public sector services.
- (-5) DANIEL HANNAN
Conservative MEP, Columnist & Blogger
Fiercely Eurosceptic, Hannan has established a powerful brand for himself. But may believe he would be of far more influence if he ran for a Westminster seat. However, he has again had a quiet year and must therefore drop down this year’s list.
- (+2) MICHAEL HINTZE
Australian born Michael Hintze is a highly successful hedge fund manager and philanthropist. His influence relates to the causes which he funds. He was the first to out himself as someone who had loaned the Conservative Party. One of the few donors who everybody in the party both likes and respects.
- (+11) ANDREW MITCHELL
Secretary of State for International Development
Andrew Mitchell has made International Development his own subject, and developed a good reputation among the NGOs. He has also developed a more human touch after suffering from a reputation as a whip’s bully. Seen by some as one of the stars of the coalition so far, he is tipped for promotion in a reshuffle. The question is, would be take it?
- (-11) CATHERINE FALL
Deputy Chief of Staff, Number Ten Downing Street
Catherine Fall is one of the few members of David Cameron’s backroom staff who have managed to keep out of the limelight. But she is the glue which holds his office together. Fiercely efficient, and very protective, she is one of the few people implicitly trusted by the Prime Minister.
- (+30) KIT MALTHOUSE
Deputy Mayor of London
Kit Malthouse is an investment banker. He is Deputy Mayor with responsibility for the Metropolitan Police and could well make a run for mayor himself when Boris has had enough. He was calm under fire in the riots and is an eloquent performer on the London media.
- (+4) ANDREW TYRIE
Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee
A former full-time adviser to successive Chancellors, Nigel Lawson and John Major, Tyrie is a gifted economist with an impressive academic background. He set up and chairs the all-party committee on extraordinary rendition and is a strong advocate of constitutional and parliamentary reform. He has proved to be a highly effective chairman of the Treasury Select Committee.
- (New) PATRICK ROCK
Special Advisor, Number Ten Policy Unit
Rock was brought back this year to join the No10 Policy Unit as a Special Advisor. He was the one time legendary SpAd to Michael Howard when he was Home Secretary, the other SpAd being a young, bright man by the name of David Cameron. Credited with coming up with the phrase “cows moo, dogs bark, Labour puts up taxes” in the 70s, he is a smooth operator and a welcome addition to the No10 machine.
- (New) LORD HILL
Minister at the Department of Education
Former Political Secretary to John Major, Lord Hill was made a peer following the 2010 General Election. He now serves as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools in the Department for Education. He has been a big champion of free schools and a key player in Michael Gove’s swelling army. He made the headlines last year when he was mugged in Westminster but brushed it off saying he could “cope with being duffed up”.
- (New) AMIT GILL
Prime Minister’s Speechwriter
Gill is the rather elusive chief speechwriter to the Prime Minister; tale has it that he was put forward for the job by the author and historian Niall Ferguson whom he worked for as a researcher. Gill has been working with David Cameron now for five years and was allegedly responsible for Cameron’s speech at last year’s Spectator Parliamentarian Awards containing a controversial four-letter word. Little else is known about this speechwriter who, like all good backroom boys, does his best to stay out of the limelight.
- (-6) JESSE NORMAN
Conservative MP for Hereford
Jesse Norman is one of the leading new group of thinkers in the Conservative Party and his writings give some philosophical ballast to David Cameron’s policy agenda. A leading light in Policy Exchange, he did well to wrest the seat of Hereford back from the Liberal Democrats. Almost a dead cert for promotion in a reshuffle.
- (+10) NIGEL FARAGE MEP
Leader, United Kingdom Independence Party
Farage moves up this list at least in part due to him becoming leader of UKIP once again. He’s given the party a higher media profile as he looks towards the 2014 European Elections, which he expects UKIP to win. That may be a task too much, but after coming second last time who is to gainsay him?
- (+46) SHERIDAN WESTLAKE
Special Advisor to Eric Pickles
Westlake is one of the most important special advisers in the entire government. It is he who pulls many of the levers at the Department of Communities and Local Government. Working hand in glove with Eric Pickles and Grant Shapps, he is part of a team leading one of the most reforming departments across the whole government.
- (-11) NICHOLAS BOLES
Conservative MP for Grantham
Named last year by Total Politics magazine as the most impressive member of the new intake of MPs, Boles has quite a reputation to live up to. Politically he made his name at Policy Exchange. His new book, WHICH WAY IS UP? Successfully distanced him somewhat from being regarded as a 100% Cameron acolyte, but he’s had a quieter year this year. Perhaps intentionally.
- (+39) DAVID LIDINGTON
Minister for Europe
One of the few Tory MPs liked by virtually all his colleagues, David Lidington was chosen for the role of Minister for Europe precisely because of his party wide popularity. Neither seen as a eurospectic nor a Europhile, he is a pragmatist. If anyone can suck the poison out of this poisoned chalice of a job, he can. Cameron has praised him and he is our hot tip for a cabinet post before long.
- (+3) LORD LEACH
Chairman, No to AV
Rodney Leach is a leading eurosceptic who has written several books on the problems with the European Union. He is chairman of Open Europe and is a noted climate change sceptic. He was awarded a peerage in 2006 and in July 2010 it was announced he would lead the campaign against AV in the forthcoming referendum. As he did such a good job, he rises in this year’s list.
RELATED ARTICLES The Top 100 Most Influential People on the Left 2011: 76-100 25 Sep 2011 Top Right-wingers: 25-1 06 Oct 2010 Top 100 most influential Right-wingers: 100-76 03 Oct 2010 The most influential people on the Right, 100-76 02 Oct 2011 53. (+23) MATTHEW SINCLAIR
Director, Taxpayers’ Alliance
Sinclair has made a real impact as director of the Taxpayer’s Alliance and has been a thorn in the side of government and local councils. He is a regular on radio and television putting the case for small government and low taxes. His book, How to Cut Public Spending and Still Win an Election skillfully put the case for reducing public expenditure and his new book Let Them Eat Carbon is a powerful explanation of the vested interests involved in the climate change industry.
- (New) LORD PATTEN
Chairman of the BBC Trust
Patten is not included in this list because of his position with the BBC, but because he is known to be regularly consulted by David Cameron on foreign policy issues. This may horrify eurosceptics, but Patten is someone who has been around a bit and whose advice should be listened to at all levels of government.
- (-6) DAVID DAVIS
Former Shadow Home Secretary
David Davis played a much unremarked upon role in giving birth to the coalition. Many LibDems believe if he hadn’t changed the Tory Party’s stance on civil liberties issues they would not have countenanced a coalition. Since his resignation from the shadow cabinet he has spoken out on a number of issues - AV, fixed term parliaments, Afghanistan, the economy – but some believe this scattergun approach is diminishing his influence. His new book, the Future of Conservatism, co-edited by Brian Binley and John Baron, is getting a lot of media traction.
- (-6) ANDREW HALDENBY
Haldenby set up Reform with Nick Herbert in 2001, having run the abortive David Davis leadership campaign. Reform is unashamedly free market and small government and has found the Cameron regime less to its liking than its predecessors. However, the Tories are starting to adopt some of Reform’s radical ideas on a small state agenda and public service reform.
- (-12) JOHN REDWOOD
Conservative MP for Wokingham
John Redwood continues his renaissance. His Economic Competitiveness Report was a model of its kind and Redwood’s blog (johnredwoodsdiary.com) has attracted a large and influential readership. His media profile is increasing and his waspish sense of humour is finally being shown in public.
- (New) OLIVER DOWDEN
Dowden has yo-yoed between being a party apparatchik and the world of public relations. Prior to the election he headed up the political section of the Conservative Research Department and is now the key link man between Number 10 and party headquarters.
- (New) MARK HOBAN
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Despite being born into a Labour-supporting family in County Durham, Hoban had joined the Tories by the age of sixteen and remained a party activist for twenty years before arriving at the Commons in 2001. Promoted to the frontbench within a year, he has been a vital part of George Osborne’s Treasury team since 2005 and as a minister in the Coalition Government has won plaudits for the way he has grappled with the thorny issues of banking and financial services policy.
- (+13) LORD HOWARD
Leader of the Conservative Party, 2003-5
There was some speculation that Michael Howard might return to frontline politics as Lord Chancellor after the election, but it was not to be. The former Conservative leader will no doubt continue to influence his party, with his Parliamentary experience dating back to the middle years of the last Tory government. His remarks on prisons policy demonstrate that he still has a voice which is listened to.
- (-42) KENNETH CLARKE
Lord Chancellor & Secretary of State for Justice
Ken Clarke maintains an airy indifference to the burdens of state and sails through life as if he wouldn’t care if his political career ended tomorrow. That approach may be unusual but it confers a degree of influence other politicians do not have. His radical ideas on prison reform are causing jitters in the party, but he’s determined to see them through. But his influence is clearly on the wane.
- (+17) JOHN WHITTINGDALE
Chairman, DCMS Select Committee
‘Whitto’, as he is affectionately known, made his name as Political Secretary to Margaret Thatcher. He rises this year due to his work as chairman of the DCMS select committee on the Murdoch inquiry.
- (-19) NICK HERBERT
Minister of State for Police & Prison Reform
One of the brightest thinkers of the 2005 intake of Tory MPs, he was expected to be a shoe-in for the cabinet, but the need to accommodate LibDem cabinet ministers has meant he will have to bide his time. His current portfolio is crucial to the coalition’s domestic affairs agenda. If he gets police and prison reform right, Home Secretary could be his next big job.
- (-42) JEREMY HUNT
Secretary of State for Culture Media & Sport
Jeremy Hunt is the latest member of the ex-Future Leaders of the Conservative Party Club – founding members being R A Butler, Reggie Maudling and John Moore. Transparently nice, he is also highly ambitious, something several of his older colleagues never fail to comment on. He didn’t have a good ‘Murdoch’ and will take some time to recover.
- (New) BILL BRATTON
Former US Police Chief
Bill Bratton is the Godfather of the policy of zero tolerance. His record as chief of police in New York, Boston and Los Angeles saw crime rates plummet. David Cameron wanted him to be the new Metropolitan Police Chief but was thwarted by Theresa May. Instead he appointed him as his policing adviser, hence his entry into this list.
- (-3) DESMOND SWAYNE
PPS to the Prime Minister
Desmond Swayne is one of the few MPs to have served in Iraq, but he appears on this list due to his job as PPS to David Cameron. Swayne is far from the typical parliamentary bag carrier and reports to Cameron on the concerns of Conservative MPs. It had been thought he would move on to a ministerial post after the election but Cameron begged Swayne to stay in post. It was a sign of how well he is thought of and how well he does his job.
- (New) SIR MERRICK COCKELL
Conservative leader of the Local Government Association
Charming and urbane, Merrick Cockell made his reputation as leader of Kensington Council, which had the third lowest council tax in the country. He recently took over the important position as Tory leader of the LGA.
- (-22) DOMINIC GRIEVE
The sad truth is that Dominic Grieve and David Cameron just don’t get on. Cameron has never really understood Grieve and his more liberal instincts. Grieve’s lack of influence on the party leadership is the main reason for his decline in the list this year.
- (-15) PAUL STAINES
Last year he appeared as Guido Fawkes. This year Paul Staines appears as himself, largely because his Guido Fawkes blog is now largely written by Harry Cole, the blogger known as Tory Bear. But Fawkes pulls the strings in the background and supplies the exocets which his blog fires at the politically famous.
- (-22) DOUGLAS CARSWELL
The MP who put forward the motion of no confidence in speaker Michael Martin after the expenses scandal, Carswell’s influence has grown quickly since he was first elected to Parliament in 2005. That same year he co-wrote “Direct Democracy”, a publication calling for increased localism and constitutional reform, and in 2008 he wrote “The Plan” with Daniel Hannan, enhancing his reputation as one of the party’s brightest young thinkers. But he has had a quieter year as he searches for a new project to get his teeth sunk into.
- (-29) DAVID WILLETTS
Minister of State for Innovations, Universities & Skills
David Willetts is a survivor. His calmness and indefatigability during the student fees crisis last year were much needed qualities while others were chasing their tails. However, the consensus seems to be that this will be his final job in frontline politics. If so, it would be a pity that one of the finest political brains in the country will not have made it to the cabinet table.
- (-5) OWEN PATERSON
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Many eyebrows were raised when David Cameron promoted Paterson, IDS’s former PPS, to the top table, but it has proven to be a shrewd move. He has charmed all parties in Northern Ireland and although the much vaunted electoral merger between the UUP and the Tories in Northern Ireland proved to be something of a mixed blessing, Paterson’s reputation is, by and large, intact.
- (+8) GEORGE BRIDGES
Former Conservative Party Adviser
Since starting his career in the mid 1990s as a special advisor in the Major government, Bridges has returned a couple of times to frontline posts in the Conservative leadership group. He played a leading role in the election planning and although not part of the Cameron administration, is a regular visitor to Number Ten with his advice being constantly sought.
- (New) DOMINIC RAAB
MP for Esher & Walton
One of the most outspoken of the Class of 2010, Raab is a former aide to David Davis who has taken on his ex-boss’s mantle as a champion of civil liberties. A former member of the British karate squad, he has had several public run-ins with Home Secretary Theresa May: firstly over her replacement for control orders and more controversially over equalities legislation and his declaration that “feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots”.
- (New) MARTIN CALLANAN
Leader of Conservative MEPs
Callanan is the first seriously eurosceptic leader the Tory MEPs have ever had in Brussels. Since his elevation to that role eleven months ago, he has not been afraid to make waves by publicly opposing British participation in further eurozone bailouts, for example. A Geordie who was educated at the same school as Paul Gascoigne, he is living up to his promise to lend “solid but not slavish support” to the Coalition Government – and his interventions will continue to give succour to grassroots activists who feel Cameron, Osborne and Hague are ducking a serious confrontation with the EU.
- (+4) NEIL O’BRIEN
Director, Policy Exchange
O’Brien has moved Policy Exchange on to a more aggressive, free-market agenda. Some believe that with the Conservatives now in government its influence will wane a little. So far there is little evidence of that happening.
- (+14) JUSTINE GREENING
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
Justine Greening is popular with her colleagues and among the political media. She is seen as a dead cert for promotion to the Cabinet, although probably in the reshuffle after next.
- (New) LYNTON CROSBY
Boris Johnson’s Campaign Manager
The “Wizard of Oz” successfully worked his strategic and tactical magic four times in his native Australia for Prime Minister John Howard. In six months he was unable to do the same for Michel Howard and the Tories at the 2005 general election, but he oversaw Boris Johnson’s famous victory at the 2008 London mayoral election and is now seeking to repeat that feat in 2012.
- (New) GREG HANDS
PPS to George Osborne
The need to accommodate Lib Dems may have prevented Hands’ shadow treasury spokesmanship being converted into a government job last year, but he has remained part of Team Osborne as the Chancellor’s loyal, well-regarded and capable Parliamentary Private Secretary. A devotee of both Thatcher and Reagan (he was born in the US and campaigned for Rudy Giuliani when he lived in New York), a ministerial red box ought to be his before too long.
- (-10) JOHN RANDALL
Deputy Chief Whip
John Randall is not the kind of whip to use aggression to keep his charges in line. He’s more likely to use the arm around the shoulder approach. He was first appointed to the whips’ office in 1999 but resigned from the front bench over the Iraq war in 2003. He rejoined the office in 2005 and has rejoiced in the role ever since and remains one of the most popular figures in Conservative parliamentary politics.
- (+4) LORD TEBBIT
Former Conservative Cabinet Minister
Norman Tebbit still has the knack of getting to the nub of an issue with a soundbite designed to cause maximum effect. As a consequence, whenever the Tories run into trouble, Tebbit is on hand to add a piquant quote or two. His Telegraph blog has given him a new lease of life and it has quickly become required reading in the Westminster Village and beyond.
- (New) LORD LAWSON
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer
Nigel Lawson has been ubiquitous in the media, commenting on the unfolding Eurozone crisis and climate change. One of the most prominent climate change skeptics he is experiencing an Indian summer as a politician of influence. His recently republished memoirs illustrate what a towering intellect he has.
- (New) Paul Goodman
Genial and pensive, Goodman quit Parliament at the last election even though he would have been a dead cert Minister of State in a Cameron government. Disillusioned by the state of party politics he has made a real impact in his new guise as an internet commentator. He is a hot tip for a peerage in the next 12 months.
- (-13) STEPHEN GREENHALGH
Leader, London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham
Greenhalgh led Hammersmith & Fulham to a storming victory in 2007 on a manifesto of cuts in council tax, waste and some services. Since then many other councils have taken careful note of how they did it.
- (New) SIR EDWARD LISTER
Deputy Mayor of London
Following the tragic death of Sir Simon Milton, Sir Edward Lister was appointed as his replacement as Deputy Mayor for Planning and Chief of Staff to the London Mayor. Previously Sir Edward had served as Leader of Wandsworth Council from 1992-2011, making him the longest serving council leader in the country. Boris is hoping that Sir Edward’s success in Wandsworth can be mimicked in next year’s Mayoral election.
- (New) GEORGE EUSTICE
MP for Falmouth & Camborne
While some may define this Cornish ex-strawberry farmer as a “Cameroon” owing to his stint as David Cameron’s press secretary in opposition, it should not be forgotten that he was a UKIP candidate for the European Parliament in 1999. Now as a Tory MP he is seeking to push the party in a more eurosceptic direction as a leading light in the new group of backbenchers seeking to redefine Britain’s relationship with the EU. He also used his experience with the anti-euro No campaign to advise those who successfully defeated AV at this year’s referendum.
- (-3) STUART POLAK
Director, Conservative Friends of Israel
CFI has established itself as a highly effective lobby group. Polak regularly takes leading Conservatives on trips to Israel to educate them. The sceptics invariably return, if not indoctrinated, fully onside. A familiar face around the corridors of the Houses of Parliament, he has done more than most to promote Israel’s case to the right of British politics.
- (-59) ANDREW LANSLEY
Secretary of State for Health
Lansley is one of the Cabinet’s genuinely nice people. But he falls rather dramatically this year due to his failure to get the Health & Social Care Bill through the Commons intact. In opposition, Lansley successfully neutralized health as an issue for the Tories. In government it is returning to bite them.
- (New) PRITI PATEL
Conservative MP for Witham
One of the feistiest of the 2010 intake, Patel wowed Essex man with her Thatcherite rhetoric to win a seat where she doesn’t fit the typical demographic. The embodiment of upwards social mobility as envisaged by the Iron Lady, she is the daughter of Ugandan refugees and worked for Sir James Goldsmith and the Referendum Party in 1997 before being recruited to Tory HQ by William Hague when he was leader. Now has a potential selection battle on her hands as Witham is set for abolition in the boundary carve-up.
- (-2) RORY STEWART
Conservative MP for Penrith & the Border
Stewart has made a big impact on Parliament in his first 16 months. A regular on radio and TV on foreign policy issues, he is one of the party’s great thinkers. Can he now make the transformation from pundit to minister. Tipped for early promotion, expect it not to be to the Foreign Office team.
- (New) NADHIM ZAHAWI
Conservative MP for Stratford Upon Avon
A Kurdish ex-Wandsworth councillor who fled Iraq with his family in the late 1970s, Zahawi made a mint before entering Parliament as co-founder of opinion polling firm YouGov. A one-time aide to Jeffrey Archer, he is ambitious and currently beavering away on the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee and co-authored the bestselling Masters of Nothing with Matthew Hancock.
- (New) KATHARINE BIRBALSINGH
Teacher and Writer
Birbalsingh, an inner-city schoolteacher, gained prominence after her rabble rousing speech at last year’s Conservative Party conference on declining standards in comprehensive schools. This led to her being suspended, and, although a campaign was formed to reinstate her, she was later forced to resign. She is now trying to set up a free school in Lambeth, and writes a regular blog for the Telegraph website. Along with Toby Young she is one of the main advocates of free schools.
- (New) SIR ANDREW GREEN
Sir Andrew, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, is the Chairman of MigrationWatch UK, an independent think tank that looks at the effects of high levels of immigration to the UK. His long term campaigning seems to be paying off with the introduction of a cap on non-EU migrants to clamp down on immigration. David Cameron also spoke in Munich back in February about the failing of multiculturalism, which Sir Andrew said was “music in my ears”.
- (New) PETER CRUDDAS
Conservative Party Co-Treasurer
Son of a Smtihfield market porter, Cruddas has worked his way up to become one of the richest men in the country thanks to his company CMC Markets. He played a vital role in the “No to AV” as one of their big backers. After that he was appointed co-treasurer of the Conservative Party alongside Lord Stanley Fink back in June. Despite his new role Cruddas is still involved with a number of charities including the Prince’s Trust and his own Peter Cruddas Foundation which helps disadvantaged young people in society.
- (New) ANDREW ADONIS
Former Labour Cabinet Minister
To those Cameron supporters who remain entranced by Tony Blair, Andrew Adonis remains a bit of a hero. His education reforms are still the guiding light for Michael Gove and his disciples.
- (New) DOMINIC CUMMINGS
Special Advisor to Michael Gove
Cummings, a former strategy director for the Conservative Party, was blocked by Andy Coulson from becoming Special Advisor to Michael Gove following the General Election. Following Coulson’s resignation in January, Cummings made a swift return as Gove’s right hand man. He has been a key Tory moderniser over recent years and proved vital in strengthening support for education reforms. Recently he faced criticism over allegations he was using his private email address to avoid FoI requests.
- (New) MURDO FRASER
Member of the Scottish Parliament
Fraser has been a Member of the Scottish Parliament representing Mid-Scotland and Fife since 2001. Following the resignation of Annabel Goldie as Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Fraser announced he would seek the leadership and has consistently polled as the frontrunner. His plans include further devolution for Scotland and to abolish the Scottish Conservatives and create a new centre right party. Regardless of whether Fraser wins the leadership, he has undoubtedly shaped the debate over the future of the right in Scotland.
- (New) ALAN DUNCAN
Minister of State for International Development
The former shadow cabinet member made a name for himself as the first Tory MP publicly to discuss his homosexuality and subsequently enter a civil partnership. But he came a cropper during the expenses scandal when caught claiming MPs were “living on rations”, was demoted and is now a middle-ranking minister at DfID (albeit with a Privy Counsellorship as consolation). However, the former oil trader’s stock appears to have risen again recently after reportedly being behind the recent Government plan to block fuel supplies to Gaddafi’s forces in Libya.
- (New) ANDEW R T DAVIS
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives
The Welsh Conservatives suffered a shock defeat after the Assembly elections in May when their leader Nick Bourne lost his regional seat. In the resulting leadership election Andrew RT Davies won with 53.1% of the vote. Although he is a well known figure on the right of the party, he disappointed some by urging his Westminster colleagues to overturn the fox hunting ban.
- (New) NADINE DORRIES
Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire
This outspoken one-time nurse is a real Marmite politician. She has made enemies in the Sisterhood and elsewhere for trying to restrict abortion whilst colleagues are nervous of confiding in her lest their indiscretions end up on her blog. Destined to remain a backbencher, the Boundary Commission proposal to abolish her constituency could, in theory, bring her career to a premature end at the next election.