Each year for the last eight 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, a former MP, a current special advisor, a former CCHQ staffer, a political lobby journalist and a senior party official.
The first half of the list contains an unprecedented 26 new entries. This year, for the first time, we have included right of centre columnists, broadcasters and commentators.
In comes UKIP’s impressive migration spokesman Steven Woolfe, along with UKIP donor and Leave.EU founder Arron Banks.
Only 11 out of the 50 are women, only one fewer than in last week’s Left list. Tracey Crouch and Amber Rudd make their debuts on the list, while The Spectator‘s Fraser Nelson is the highest new entry in this half of the top 100.
Oh, and look out for number 89.
Tomorrow, we’ll reveal who’s on the top of the list.
51. (-13) 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, which has recently celebrated its 60th birthday. A pugnacious debater, he is one of the best advocates of free market economics.
52. (-14) Sir Edward Lister
Deputy Mayor of London
Eddie Lister is Boris Johnson’s indispensable chief of staff. If you want Boris to do anything you have to get past Eddie first. He’s the real power behind the Johnson throne.
53. (NEW) 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?
54. (+15) Stephen Crabb
Secretary of State for Wales
Stephen Crabb has risen quietly through the Conservative ranks but his first year in the job has certainly been a success. One of the few front line bearded politicians, his challenge will be to be promoted within the cabinet out of the Wales job. It’s unlikely to happen soon, but don’t rule it out before the end of this parliament.
55. (NEW) Sheridan Westlake
Special Advisor, No 10 Downing Street
Having spent many years working in the Conservative Research Department (CRD) and then for Eric Pickles, Sheridan Westlake has taken on a new enforcement role in Downing Street. His job is to read the small print, spot any bear traps or potential cock ups and make the machinery of government work.
56. (-8) Craig Oliver
Director of Politics & Communications, No 10 Downing Street
One of the Prime Minister’s most trusted aides, Oliver has taken on a beefed up role since the election and now has a strategic role as well as being in charge of communications. Still viewed with suspicion by the print media, but his understanding of how the BBC operates is second to none.
57. (+6) Priti Patel
Minister of State for Employment
An undoubted rising star, she attends cabinet, but has become known for her slavish devotion to the party line, with an uncanny ability to parrot the CCHQ line like no other. If she rediscovers her independent spirit, she will be a force to be reckoned with.
58. (NEW) Amber Rudd
Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change
A key ally of George Osborne, Amber Rudd has made an impressive start to her cabinet career. Eloquent on the media and able to strike a balance between greenery and economic realism, she did well to hang on to her marginal seat in Hastings.
59. (NEW) 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 and is tipped for rapid promotion. The question is, could she bear to leave the one job in politics she’s always wanted.
60. (NEW) James Chapman
Director of Communications to the Chancellor of the Exchequer
Many raised an eyebrow when James Chapman left one of the top jobs in journalism (political editor of the Daily Mail) to move to the Treasury, but he’s clearly identified George Osborne as the next PM, and so far he’s doing a good job, building on the work of Thea Rogers who helped transformed the chancellor’s public image.
61. Dominic Cummings
Communications Director, Business for Britain
Has introduced some rigour into the communications efforts of Business for Britain. He is a brilliant strategist, even if he does have a tendency to become the story. The ‘Stay’ side of the debate may believe that together with Matthew Elliott, Cummings is likely to make their life hell.
62. (+36) Stuart Polak
Director, Conservative Friends of Israel
One of the shrewdest single issue pressure group lobbyists around, Polak is about to join the Conservative benches in the House of Lords.
63. (NEW) Steve Baker
MP for Wycombe
As co-chairman of Conservatives for Britain, Baker has become one of the new faces of euroscepticism. Bright and articulate, he has a cavalier attitude to ministerial preferment and is the better politician for it.
64. (+36) Gavin Williamson
PPS to the Prime Minister
Williamson has built up a good reputation among Tory MPs and does his job as the eyes and ears of the PM very well. Is sure to get a ministerial job in the next reshuffle.
65. (NEW) Adam Atashzai
Deputy Political Secretary to the Prime Minister
Atashzai is a highly regarded recruit from CCHQ who is responsible for ‘lines to take’ and the famed Downing Street grid. Respected and trusted by everyone.
66. (-4) 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 the guest list at last year’s 10th anniversary dinner was testament to his influence. Even the PM sent a video message.
67. (NEW) Katie Hopkins
Columnist, Mail Online
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.
68. (+15) David Gauke
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Said to be the real Chancellor, while George Osborne runs the rest of the government. Was one of the key Conservative faces on the media during the general election because he’s trusted to toe a line and not drop the ball.
69. (-41) Liz Truss
Secretary of State for DEFRA
A square peg in a round hole, Liz Truss hasn’t been allowed to shine in this portfolio and should have been moved in the post-election reshuffle. Her all too obvious leadership ambitions will be thwarted unless she is able to show more of what she is undoubtedly capable of.
70. (+10) 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. The question now, is will he go for a Westminster seat. Having been an MEP for ten years he could be forgiven for thinking his work in the European Parliament is done.
71. (NEW) Christopher Booker
Columnist, Sunday Telegraph
The leading brain on Eurosceptic and climate change-sceptic issues, vastly underrated. He ought to be regarded as one of the top journalists of his generation, but the liberal elites unfairly traduce him and his excellent work. Ought to be a must-read for everyone on the centre right.
72. (-52) 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.
73. (-20) Dean Godson
Director, Policy Exchange
It’s been a slightly quiet year for Policy Exchange, although their influence on government policy remains immense. Perhaps it’s a deliberate policy not to shout about their influence from the rooftops.
74. (+4) Liam Fox
Former Defence Secretary
Even though there seems no way back for him into government while David Cameron is still prime minister, Liam Fox is certainly able to make his presence known. He was one of the leaders of the rebellion over EU referendum rules and given his treatment by No. 10, one suspects his rebellions may become more frequent.
75. (+7) Douglas Murray
Associate Director, Henry Jackson Society
A trenchant exponent of neoconservative views on international issues, and a thoughtful writer on social issues. Softly spoken he is one of the most articulate commentators on the right and doesn’t take any hostages when debating on the media.
76. (NEW) Charles Moore
Author & Columnist
His biography of Margaret Thatcher is superb and is released this week. He’s one of the few must read columnists for everyone on the right and his Spectator Notes are a delight.
77. (-2) Theresa Villiers
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
When she was appointed, many seemed flummoxed but according to some of the key players she has quietly got on with the job and won the respect of the various parties. She’s handled the recent troubles well and taken care not to inflame the situation.
78. (NEW) 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.
79. (NEW) 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.
80. (NEW) Arron Banks
UKIP donor, Leave.EU Ambassador
Banks is an acquired taste for many. A former donor, he switched his allegiances to UKIP and now funds the Leave.Eu campaign. Liable to shout his mouth of, he is a sworn enemy of Douglas Carswell, who he disgracefully alleged was ‘mentally ill’.
81. (-5) 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.
82. (+14) Raheem Kassam
Editor, Breitbart London
Kassam previously worked for the Henry Jackson Society and a number of right-wing websites, then he launched Breitbart London. In the autumn of 2014 he became Nigel Farage’s advisor and it’s fair to say he became a lightning rod for the UKIP leader. A Marmite character, he’s now back in charge of Breitbart.
83. (-6) David Davis
Conservative MP for Haltemprice & Howden
The one time leadership contender is concentrating on fighting the cause of human rights and civil liberties. Regarded as a serial rebel by some, he has shown himself to be adept in holding the executive to account and even won a legal victory over the so-called snoopers’ charter.
84. (NEW) Ameet Gill
Director of Strategy, No 10 Downing Street
In charge of the famous Downing Street ‘grid’, he’s described by some as the No. 10 ‘air traffic controller’.
85. (-21) Paul Nuttall
Deputy Leader, UKIP
He managed to stay out of the post-election leadership travails, but some ask what exactly he does apart from appear on the airwaves as Nigel Farage’s bit of Liverpudlian rough. It’s unfair because he’s an effective backroom operator and doesn’t have the same ego issues as others at the top of UKIP.
86. (NEW) Camilla Cavendish
Head of of the No. 10 Policy Unit
A recent recruit from the comment pages of The Times, Cavendish will bring some rigour to the Downing Street operation, and some much needed political nouse. It was a big mistake to staff the unit with civil servants.
87. (+3) Andrew Mitchell
Former Chief Whip
Mitchell has become an influential voice on the back benches and has now put Pleb-gate firmly behind him. Careful to avoid being seen as a serial revel he picks his fights carefully.
88. (NEW) Peter Hitchens
Columnist, Mail on Sunday
A true marmite character, Hitchens has a devoted set of fans, most of him share his somewhat negative view of the prime minister and the Conservative Party. The trouble is his columns are very ‘samey’ with one overriding theme – that the Conservative Party is not conservative at all, and only he has the answers to the nation’s problems.
89. (NEW) Elliott Johnson
Conservative Party activist
Elliott Johnson took his own life on 15 September after allegedly being bullied by senior Conservative Party figures. His inclusion in this list is by way of tribute to a young man who loved Conservative politics but felt suicide was his only way of escaping the bullying. May his memory live long and his family find it in their hearts to forgive those responsible.
90. (+5) 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.
91. (NEW) Paul Abbott
Chief Executive, Conservative Way Forward
Spent years working in CCHQ, latterly as special advisor to Grant Shapps. Donal Blaney recruited him after the election to run Conservative Way Forward and together, the two of them have given CWF a sharper campaigning edge.
92. (NEW) Tim Stanley
Columnist, Daily Telegraph
Tim Stanley is from the new breed of young historians who has brought a very welcome fresh new writing style to the Telegraph. He’s also become a bit of name as a pundit and has made some very impressive appearances on Question Time.
93. (-9) Baroness Tina Stowell
Leader of the House of Lords
A uniting figure, Tina Stowell is very popular with their Lordships and has done well to curtail some potentially serious rebellions.
94. (NEW) Christian Guy
Number 10 Policy Unit
Recruited from the Centre for Social Justice, where he had done sterling work on welfare reform, Guy’s appointment to the policy unit shows how serious Camilla Cavendish is in recruiting the best talent on the right.
95. (-8) Jonathan Isaby
Director, Tax Payers’ Alliance
Isaby is but a shadow of his former self – not in influence, but in physical weight, having shed seven stones this year. It’s ben a quieter year for the TPA which, one feels, needs a new cause to fight.
96. (NEW) Giles Kenningham
Deputy Press Secretary to the Prime Minister
One of the most talented of his generation of CCHQ press office graduates, Kenningham is both liked and respected by his colleagues and journalists. But he can be tough as nails too.
97. (NEW) Julia Hartley-Brewer
Columnist & Broadcaster
A prolific columnist and broadcaster, Hartley-Brewer has really raised her profile since her departure from LBC nine months ago. She’s unpredictable, feisty and intelligent and some reckon she’d make a great MP.
98. (NEW) 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. 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!
99. (NEW) James Marshall
Special Advisor to the Chief Whip
Possibly the most powerful person in this list you’ve never heard of. And with a majority of 12, he becomes an even greater influence on events.
100. (NEW) Steven Woolfe
UKIP MEP & Migration Spokesman
Very much on the sensible wing of UKIP, Woolfe is seen by many as a good bet to succeed Farage when the time comes. If it comes. His moderate approach on migration issues has won him many admirers outside UKIP, although possibly not so many from within.