When we sat down to compile this list with a group of ten journalists, MPs and commentators we had no idea of the difficulty of the task ahead. To qualify for the list you have to live and work in the UK and be on the right of centre of British politics.
We've deliberately left out newspaper editors, proprietors and journalists – after all, it would be invidious for such a list to be so deservedly dominated by employees of the Telegraph Group!
Margaret Thatcher still casts a deep shadow over the contemporary Right in the UK, no surprise then that she comes in at number 4, two places lower than Tony Blair on the Left List, and her smashing of the post-war consensus proved as disruptive of existing labels for political positions on the Right as it did on the Left.
To cut through this complexity we have adopted the same kind of rules of thumb that we used on the Left list. Our working assumption is that politics is about branding and the relative contribution to the success of the brand "right of centre" or "conservative" is what we are trying to measure. As with the Left list, self description is being applied, except in the case of Nick Clegg where we have decided it is time we called a spade a spade.
So what does being on the Right mean today? How do we measure the relative influence of people on the Right? Let us first think about what we mean by "the Right" – is there one right, or many? The questions of the impact of the EU on Britain's constitution, union and independence must rank as one of the great fault lines within the contemporary Right but it is not the only one.
The traditional one-nation conservatives, whose primary impulse in politics is to conserve through moderate reform the basic structures of social and economic life while erring on the side of taking the state out of our lives, remain a distinctive group, some Eurosceptic and others not. They seek to represent certain interests within the body politic and very few of them appear on this list, but see Kenneth Clarke (in some moods) and Douglas Hurd. John Major and Michael Heseltine matured into One Nationers but neither made the cut because they have little relevance for the future.
On the other side stands the so called new Right or neo-liberal wing, better described as libertarians, believing in free markets and free lifestyles. The libertarians have been a force behind the radical transformation of the UK over the last thirty years. In many ways the libertarians can be said to represent certain ideas in British politics.
Dominic Grieve, Roger Scruton, Madsen Pirie and Matthew Elliott carry the flag in this list. Both these groups share the Oakshottian view that "the man of [conservative] disposition understands it to be the business of a government not to inflame passion and give it new objects to feed upon, but to inject into the activities of already too passionate men an ingredient of moderation, to restrain, to deflate, to pacify, and to reconcile; not to stoke the fires of desire, but to damp them down."
Margaret Thatcher brought elements of these two groups together in her statecraft – socially conservative with family values and patriotism to the fore she could talk the language of the Union with confidence. She was also the neo-Liberal who would not accept the wets diluting her project to turn the UK into an enterprise culture. David Cameron is attempting a similar kind of a balancing act between approaches, while also attempting to merge this synthesis with a compromise with the governing consensus formed by the Blair-Brown governments since 1997 and emphasis on the public sector.
The difficulty of this task, and the reality that it has to be successful if the Tories are going to win again, is reflected in the number electioneers and fund raisers who appear in this list relative to the number of Tory grandees. This is not a time of enjoying old victories for the Right in the UK, it is a time for forging the policy mix and shifting the brand perception sufficiently to win back power. Influence in such circumstances can be measured in terms of innovation, see for example the Tory bloggers and websites here.
Power is the key word in understanding the nature of influence that the people on this list represent and the main clue to their rankings. A few years ago there would have many more names from the outside Right, for example from UKIP et al, on this list because they were a significant element in the Conservative Party's inability to win an election.
The extent of their marginalisation is a measure of David Cameron's success in getting the Conservative Party back as a serious contender for power. In the twentieth century, the Conservative Party was one of the most successful right of centre political parties in Western European. It has been the natural party of government for much of the last 150 years.
Our list reflects this in that it is dominated by people who are in the business of winning power, exercising power and thinking about what to do with power, but you might say there is too much representation of the purely political class on this list. In deciding on the allocation of influence to different sections of society and different professions, there did indeed emerge some noticeable absences and presences.
The Church does not, as it might once have done, feature heavily in the list of 100 top Britain's on the Right with only the Chief Rabbi and the evangelical fund raiser Robert Edmiston making the cut. This reflects the decline of church affairs as a feature of politics, the relative decline of the church itself and the move of much of the clergy – if not necessarily their congregations - into a more broadly defined left of centre social orientation.
Moreover, there are few programmatic thinkers here, a philosopher or two, for example Roger Scruton, and practical intellectuals like David Willetts, Madsen Pirie and Oliver Letwin, but hardly any academics or abstract theorists. This reflects the liberal dominance of the academy both here and in the US.
There are perhaps fewer business people on the list than would have been the case in the 1980s though Philip Harris and Michael Hintze buck the trend. This reflects the extent to which New Labour has moved onto the private sector territory previously occupied and politicised by the Conservatives.
Though the Conservatives remain the natural party of business, it is harder to see business people as politically influential when all parties share the same free market, anti-privatisation faith. There are also, compared with the list of Lefties, very few dinosaurs or diehards. It is difficult to think of an issue aside from the EU on which modern Tories are not remarkably flexible.
The presence here of Tory think tankers, public intellectuals and journalists reflects the healthy state of Tory political thinking and the root of this flexibility. There is no shortage of political ideas and programmes on the Right, the policy commissions are providing material for a manifesto which will be long on new ideas, indeed will match the volume of policy that the Blairites produced in the run up to 1997.
Opposition provides fewer opportunities for rapid changes in fortune but there are a number of people here who are in potentially influential jobs who still need to prove themselves – Caroline Spelman and Andy Coulson for example. The Top 100 Lefties list changed drastically in response to Gordon Brown's assumption of power but there has been more stability at the top of the Tory list since Cameron came in and reshaped his team – however the election will, of course, reshape the list once more.
Leaving people out was relatively easy, although some names provoked heated debate. Ranking those who made the cut was more difficult. For examples, why was George Osborne ranked one place higher than Lord Ashcroft? We felt that Osborne's position as Shadow Chancellor, general election co-ordinator and closest ally and friend of the leader of the Conservative Party edged him ahead of the man whose donations have kept the party afloat and who undoubtedly has complete control of the Tory electoral machine, but who makes no effort to involve himself in policy formation.
But there are others, like UKIP leader Nigel Farage, whose final position in the list were more in doubt. In the end Farage made a respectable 48th position, but it is arguable that he could have been placed higher, much lower, or not in the list at all. As with our list of the Top 100 Lefties, everyone will disagree with this list and everyone will have questions.
Where is Jackie Collins? Where is Nick Griffin? Why so few ex-Thatcher Ministers? Why so few industrialists and city brokers? Why no Tony Blair? Everyone will have their own answers and their own lists, so let us know.
This is our list, now shows us yours.
NOTE: Unfortunately only a quarter of this list remains. in full.
The full list with no biogs is further below.
26. ROBERT EDMISTON
Conservative Party donor
A Christian evangelist, Robert Edmiston raised huge amounts of money for the Conservative Party through the Midlands Industrial Council. He made his money importing cars and is a keen funder of Solihull City Academy.
Proposed for a Peerage in 2006, he was turned down by the Lords Appointments Commission.
27. LORD STRATHCLYDE
Leader of the Conservatives in the House of Lords
The ebullient Tom Strathclyde is a hugely popular figure and has steadied the uncertain ship left behind by Lord Cranborne (now Salisbury) when he struck a deal with Tony Blair over Lords reform.
Strathclyde has managed to keep their Lordships on an even keel when the rest of the Party entered into its periodic bouts of internecine warfare. But there are those who are muttering that perhaps he might soon move on to pastures new.
28. JONATHAN SACKS
Jonathan Sacks is one of the few genuinely spiritual leaders to have an influence on modern day politics- especially thinking on the right - and is the only religious representative in this list.
29. IAIN DUNCAN SMITH MP
Former Leader of the Conservative Party
IDS has slowly resurrected his reputation since his fall from the leadership and has become the party’s conscience on social justice.
His Social Justice Commission policy report this year was by far the most comprehensive of the six commissions launched by David Cameron when he became leader. His Centre for Social Justice has become a leader in its field.
30. KENNETH CLARKE
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer
Every now and then he rears his head to show the Conservative Party what they have missed. His piercing analysis of Gordon Brown’s weaknesses in his Commons speeches makes him one of the few MPs who are able to draw an audience into the House of Commons chamber.
His presence on the Tory front bench is still sorely missed.
31. 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 anyone else to promote Israel’s case to the right of British politics.
32. LORD HURD OF WESTWELL
Former Foreign Secretary
His steady stream of books (the latest a biography of Peel) keep him in the limelight, but his influence is mainly on David Cameron who he advises behind the scenes on foreign affairs.
He is part of a group of ‘wise men’ who meet monthly with Cameron to discuss international issues.
33. ANTHONY BROWNE
Director, Policy Exchange
An ex-BBC and Times journalist Anthony Browne took over the reigns from Policy Exchanges founder, Nicholas Boles, in May – a very tough act to follow.
Policy Exchange has established itself not only as the largest, but also the most influential think tank on the right. Browne’s task is to keep it there.
34. LORD TRIMBLE
Former First Minister of Northern Ireland
When David Trimble took the Conservative whip last year many people assumed he would be appointed to the front bench almost immediately. Instead he has taken his time to learn the ropes.
David Cameron knows his Shadow Cabinet lacks experience and it would be surprising if Trimble didn’t join it before too long.
35. CAROLINE SPELMAN
Chairman of the Conservative Party
Spelman has only been in the job less than three months hence her comparatively low position. Her influence is diminished by the power held by Michael Ashcroft and the appointment of George Osborne as General Election Coordinator.
Liked by everyone, Spelman needs to carve out a new role for herself, which ought to involve a much higher media profile.
36. RUTH LEA
Director of Studies, Centre for Policy Studies
Possibly the brainiest woman on this list, Ruth Lea positively bubbles with policy ideas. Under her direction the CPS has again been at the forefront of policy development on the right after a slightly barren period.
However, the CPS still operates in the shadow of the bolder Policy Exchange, who seem better equipped to gain media coverage. If they joined forces they would be truly formidable and a rival to the left of centre IPPR.
37. SIMON WOLFSON
Managing Director, Next
At the age of 38, Simon Wolfson is one of the youngest MDs of a national chain retailer.
A donor to David Cameron’s leadership campaign, he recently co-chaired the party’s Economic Competitiveness policy group alongside John Redwood.
38. LORD BRUCE-LOCKHART
Chairman, English Heritage
Sandy Bruce-Lockhart made his name as leader of Kent County Council and then as chairman of the Local Government Association.
Recently appointed chairman of English Heritage he may have bowed out of overt party politics, but his influence in the area of local government is still felt.
39. SHAMI CHAKRABARTI
It is a measure of Shami Chakrabarti’s growing influence that she is the only person to be featured both on this list and the left wing equivalent. And if there were a Lib Dem list she’d be on that too.
She, more than anyone, has influenced Conservative civil liberties policies. If there’s a Home Office you can be sure her advice will be sought by both David Davis and Nick Clegg. She is a huge influence on Davis in particular.
40. DAVID WILLETTS MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Innovations, Universities & Skills
David Willett’s influence has been on the wane ever since the Tory leadership campaign where he lost credibility with both the Davis and Cameron camps for trying to defect and then changing his mind. The blame for the grammar school debacle in May was also placed firmly at his door.
An incredibly nice and clever man, his time will surely come again.
41. MICHAEL HOWARD MP
Former Leader of the Conservative Party
Without Michael Howard’s patronage David Cameron may well still be an obscure junior frontbencher. Having done all he could to ensure the Cameron succession, Howard remains a key ‘wise old owl’ adviser to the young Tory leader.
He was incandescent about the grammar schools debacle but (just) managed to keep his temper in check.
42. ANDREW LANSLEY MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Health
Said to be a favourite of the Tory leader, Lansley was Cameron’s boss in the Conservative Research Department in the early 1990s. Oliver Letwin tried to persuade him to stand for the leadership in 2005.
However, the recent attack on A&E and maternity closures which backfired spectacularly in the media has done little to help Lansley reinforce his position in the top echelons of the Shadow Cabinet.
43. LORD HARRIS OF PECKHAM
After Cameron endorsed his City Academies Philip Harris become a major funder of David Cameron’s leadership campaign, giving £90,000. He promised to raise £100 million for the party if Cameron became leader but Party treasurers are wondering when they will see it.
He made his money from his carpets empire and is said to be worth nearly £1 billion.
44.NICK CLEGG MP
Home Affairs Spokesman, Liberal Democrats
What’s a Lib Dem doing on a list like this? Clegg is the leading right of centre disciple of ‘Orange Book’ politics. He’s the antithesis of the stereotype ‘beard & sandals’ Lib Dems, who mutter about him being a ‘closet’ Tory.
He’s the sort of liberal who actually understands the historic meaning of the word and is likely to become even more influential when he takes on Chris Huhne for the Lib Dem leadership.
45. DOMINIC GRIEVE MP
Shadow Attorney General
If there was any justice in politics Dominic Grieve would have been promoted to the Shadow Cabinet long ago. He is said to clash with David Cameron over his powerful advocacy of civil liberties.
Grieve’s work on ‘diversity’ issues has made him the most influential Conservatives among many ethnic minority groups.
46.SIR MICHAEL SPICER MP
Chairman, 1922 Committee
Sir Michael has announced he is standing down at the next election but until then his influence remains. A shrewd tester of the political tea leaves he has now had to preside over three leadership changes. He knew Iain Duncan Smith was in trouble before IDS himself did.
He is one of the few politicians able to keep a secret. We can think of no higher praise.
47. STEPHEN GILBERT
Director, Target Seats Campaign
A former Chief Executive of the Party, Gilbert is now Michael Ashcroft’s right hand man in planning and delivering the Tories’ campaign in the marginal seats.
Party agents were delighted when he returned to Central Office to direct the general election effort, along with another party stalwart, Gavin Barwell. Gilbert knows everyone there is to know in the party, hence his influence.
48. NIGEL FARAGE MEP
Leader, United Kingdom Independence Party
Charismatic and unfailingly ebullient, Farage was seen as the man to take UKIP onto the next stage. Instead, he’s presided over a Party that has leaked members, is virtually bankrupt and failed in its stated aim to attract large numbers of Tories disaffected by Cameron’s soft approach to hard core issues.
If Farage was doing well, he’d be in the top thirty on this list.
49. JOHN MAPLES MP
Deputy Chairman (Candidates), Conservative Party
Whoever is in charge of party candidates has not only influence but power – power to break political careers and promote individual candidates. Maples operates in a quiet, discrete way, but is adamant on continuing the drive to select more female candidates.
He inherited the controversial A List but has skilfully ditched it, to all intents and purposes.
50. SIR ANDREW GREEN
Castigated by the left, Sir Andrew has ploughed a sometimes lonely furrow in alerting the country to the dangers of excessive immigration. A seemingly constant presence on our airwaves he has been a powerful advocate of managed immigration and had a real influence on a controversial debate.
It drives the left wild that they cannot lay the badge of ‘racist’ on him.
|1||David Cameron MP||Leader of the Opposition|
|2||George Osborne MP||Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer|
|3||Michael Ashcroft||Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party|
|4||Margaret Thatcher||Former Prime Minister|
|5||Steve Hilton||Director of Strategy, Conservative Party|
|6||William Hague MP||Shadow Foreign Secretary|
|7||David Davis MP||Shadow Home Secretary|
|8||Michael Spencer||Conservative Party Treasurer|
|9||Michael Gove MP||Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families|
|10||Tony Blair||Former Prime Minister|
|11||Andy Coulson||Director of Communications, Conservative Party|
|12||Oliver Letwin MP||Head of Policy, The Conservative Party|
|13||Boris Johnson MP||Conservative MP for Henley|
|14||Edward Llewellyn||Chief of Staff to David Cameron|
|15||Charles Moore||Commentator & Author|
|16||Sir Simon Milton||Leader of Westminster City Council & Chairman of the Local Government Association|
|17||Patrick McLoughlin MP||Chief Whip|
|18||Liam Fox MP||Shadow Secretary of State for Defence|
|19||Dr Ian Paisley||First Minister of Northern Ireland|
|20||Chris Grayling MP||Shadow Secretary of State for Work & Pensions|
|21||Andrew Mackay MP||Senior Political Adviser to David Cameron|
|22||Stephan Shakespeare||Chief Innovations Officer, YouGov|
|23||Tim Montgomerie||Editor, ConservativeHome.com|
|24||Ann Widdecombe MP||Former Shadow Home Secretary|
|25||Nick Herbert MP||Shadow Secretary of State for Justice|
|26||Robert Edmiston||Conservative Party Donor|
|27||Thomas Strathclyde||Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lors|
|28||Sir Jonathan Sacks||Chief Rabbi|
|29||Iain Duncan Smith MP||Former Leader of the Conservative Party|
|30||Kenneth Clarke MP||Former Chancellor of the Exchequer|
|31||Stuart Polak||Director, Conservative Friends of Israel|
|32||Lord Hurd of Westwell||Former Foreign Secretary|
|34||Lord Trimble||Former First Minister of Northern Ireland|
|35||Caroline Spelman||Chairman of the Conservative Party|
|39||Shami Chakrabarti||Director, Liberty|
|40||David Willetts MP||Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities & Skills|
|41||Michael Howard MP||Former Leader of the Conservative Party|
|42||Andrew Lansley MP||Shadow Secretary of State for Health|
|43||Lord Harris of Peckham||Conservative Party Donor|
|45||Dominic Grieve||Shadow Attorney General|
|46||Sir Michael Spicer MP||Chairman of the 1922 Committee|
|47||Stephen Gilbert||Director, Conservative Target Seats Campaign|
|48||Nigel Farage||Leader, United Kingdom Independence Party|
|49||John Maples MP||Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, Candidates|
|50||Sir Andrew Green||Director, Migration Watch|
|51||Nick Bourne AM||Leader of the Opposition, National Assembly for Wales|
|52||Samantha Cameron||Wife of the Leader of the Opposition|
|53||Eric Pickles MP||Shadow Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government|
|54||Lord Tebbit||Former Conservative Party Chairman|
|55||Michael Hintze||Conservative Party Donor|
|56||Francis Maude MP||Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office|
|57||Matthew Elliott||Director, Taxpayers' Alliance|
|58||Don Porter||Chairman, National Conservative Convention|
|59||Lord Norton of Louth||Conservative Peer|
|60||John Redwood MP||Conservative MP|
|61||Lord Kalms||Conservative Party Donor|
|62||Alan Duncan MP||Shadow Secretary of State for Business|
|63||Andrew Haldenby||Director, Reform|
|64||Shireen Ritchie||Chairman, Conservative Party Candidates Committee|
|66||David Laws MP||Liberal Democrat Spokesman on Work & Pensions|
|67||Neil O'Brien||Director, Open Europe|
|68||Madsen Pirie||Director, Adam Smith Institute|
|69||Andrew Mitchell MP||Shadow Secretary of State for International Development|
|70||Anne Jenkin||Treasurer, Women2Win|
|71||Jesse Norman||Conservative Candidate for Hereford|
|72||Ed Vaizey MP||MP for Wantage|
|73||Lord Sheikh||Conservative Party Donor|
|74||Damian Green MP||Shadow Immigration Spokesman|
|75||Fiona Hodgson||Chairman, Conservative Womens' Organisation|
|76||Baroness Shephard of Northwold||Chairman, Association of Conservative Peers|
|77||Timothy Kirkhope MEP||Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament|
|78||Jeremy Hunt||Shadow Secretary of State for Culture|
|79||Douglas Murray||Director, Centre for Social Cohesion|
|80||Theresa May MP||Shadow Leader of the House of Commons|
|81||Andrew Feldman||Deputy Treasurer of the Conservative Party|
|82||John Blundell||Director, Institute of Economic Affairs|
|84||Annabel Goldie||Leader, Scottish Conservatives|
|86||Lord Pearson of Rannoch||UKIP Peer|
|87||Sayeeda Warsi||Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion|
|89||James O'Shaunnessy||Director of Policy & Research, Conservative Party|
|90||Margaret Eaton||Chairman, Conservative Councillors's Association|
|91||Richard North & Helen Szamuely||EU Referendum|
|92||Edward Lister||Leader, Wandsworth Council|
|94||Stephen Greenhalgh||Leader, Hammersmith & Fulham Council|
|95||Desmond Swayne MP||PPS to David Cameron|
|97||Professor Tim Congdon||Managing Director, Lombard Street Research|
|98||Christine Constable||English Democrats|
|100||Zak Goldsmith||Conservative Candidate for Richmond|