By Tim Montgomerie
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Top 100 lists of influential people probably shouldn't be taken too seriously but they still fascinate us. Total Politics has today published its list of top 100 journalists and GQ has just published its annual list of the 100 most influential men...
Last year, controversially, George Osborne was number 1 in GQ's list - ahead of the PM. He slips to number 8 this year. Is he being punished for that jokey speech about masturbation? Taking the Chancellor's place at the top of the tree is Boris Johnson. Here are the notables from the world of politics...
1 Boris Johnson, GQ doesn't really explain why he's moreinfluential than Cameron but do say this... "the prime minister tries to guess how high. When Boris comes back from holiday, as he did during the London riots, David Cameron comes back. When Boris says he’s wearing a morning suit to the royal wedding, Cameron performs an embarrassing sartorial U-turn."
2 David Cameron
3 Jeremy Heywood, Permanent Secretary at Number 10 and according to GQ "Cameron trusts his judgement and experience more than that of his political appointees".
5 Andrew Cooper, the PM's pollster and more important than the Chancellor according to GQ!
8 George Osborne, was number one last year. Odd that he's dropped so much. Very odd.
10 Paul Dacre, Editor of the Daily Mail, the top journalist in ConHome's RightList.
13 Lord Coe of 2012
14 Danny Finkelstein, columnist and now the Chairman of Policy Exchange
15 Michael Gove, the Daily Mail's new hero
16 Ed Balls
18 Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and more influential than Nick Clegg according to GQ
21 Dominic Mohan, Editor of The Sun
26 Robert Chote, head of the Office of Budget Responsibility
28 Paul Staines and Harry Cole, Guido Fawkes blog
30 Jeremy Hunt
34 Nick Clegg, why exactly is the Deputy PM thought to be less influential than Andrew Cooper?
43 Iain Duncan Smith
47 James Harding, Editor of The Times
48 Oliver Letwin and Francis Maude, jointly listed these two are the workhorses of the Coalition from within the Cabinet Office
56 Tony Gallagher, Editor of The Telegraph
59 Ed Miliband, 33 places BELOW Ed Balls
62 Steve Hilton, the PM's guru who, according to yesterday's Mail on Sunday, has cooled on global warming
69 Nick Boles MP, "gave birth to the Tory party’s modernisation movement."
70 Matthew d'Ancona, columnist
88 Tim Luke, Business advisor to David Cameron (and old Etonian schoolmate)
97 Julian Fellowes, Tory peer and creator of ITV's Downton Abbey.
GQ arrives in newsagents on Thursday.
ConservativeHome has launched a 40,000 word guide to the one hundred most influential people and groups on the Right. We are currently publishing some of the profiles contained in that guide. Already published are profiles of David Cameron, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Samantha Cameron, the Orange Bookers and the Class of 2010. Paul Dacre is the highest ranked journalist.
Paul Dacre is one of the most powerful editors of the modern era. Although it may not seem a word easily associated with him, his success is based on intuition. He knows what his readers are thinking. The Daily Mail is aimed at the rightward-inclined middle and lower middle classes. They are people to whom anger comes easily. They are ready to believe that the world is a dangerous place, that the country is going to the dogs, that all politicians are useless softies, that most government spending is wasted on scroungers and criminals: that much of life in modern Britain is a conspiracy against the hard-working and law-abiding. These messages are reinforced every day in almost every article. When he decides that a certain story should be the day's major issue, Paul Dacre throws everything at it: horse, foot and guns. He rules by driving: often by fear. But he drives himself as hard as anyone.
It is often said that the Daily Mail is pitched at female readers. It is true that Paul Dacre's features coverage and women's pages are the envy of his rivals, who often try to imitate them and never succeed. But there is plenty of masculine roughage in the news and poltical pages. On politics, Paul Dacre has an uneasy relationship with the Tory party. On the one hand, he advocates right-wing radicalism. On the other, he twice supported Ken Clarke for the Leadership, and was irritated when the party refused to take his advice. There is an explanation for the incoherence. Unlike many editors, Mr Dacre is not a politician manque. He would rather be driving his paper than dining with a Cabinet minister.
He had one another strange enthusiasm: Gordon Brown. Whether it was be the bleak Scottish puritanism, or the practice of intra-office terrorism, something about Mr Brown attracted Paul Dacre. If there were a criticism to be made of the Dacre Mail, it would be the relentless joylessness. The readers are rarely given any excuse for concluding that life can be fun. Here, Gordon Brown would be on Paul Dacre's side. So, to be fair, are his circulation figures.
If you do not subscribe to the ConservativeHome Quarterly you can purchase a copy by sending a £20 cheque, payable to ConservativeHome, to Michelle Hollands, ConservativeHome, 5 The Sanctuary, Westminster SW1P 3JS.
ConservativeHome has launched a 40,000 word guide to the one hundred most influential people and groups on the Right. We are currently publishing some of the profiles contained in that guide. Already published are profiles of David Cameron, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, the Orange Bookers and the Class of 2010.
The cover of The Times from shortly before the last election. Photograph by Andrew Parsons.
Although there is no formal role for the Prime Minister's wife (or husband) in the UK, there are always going to be times when they are expected to be on display in public and act as a confidante in private. And thus far, Samantha Cameron has been a model consort, steering clear of controversy, pursuing her own career, yet also fulfilling family duties and providing much-appreciated support to her husband.
The elder daughter of North Lincolnshire landowner, Sir Reginald Sheffield (8th Baronet), she enjoyed a privileged upbringing - although has been known to play down her background by simply remarking that she comes from Scunthorpe. She won an art scholarship to Marlborough College and pursued her studies in that area further at Camberwell Collge of Arts and then Bristol Polytechnic, where she often found herself mixing in quite bohemian crowd - and it was around that time that she got a dolphin tattooed on her ankle.
She was to meet her future husband through her friendship with his younger sister, Clare, and romance blossomed during a Cameron family holiday in Tuscany in 1992 when he was approaching 26 and she just 21. They soon became an item and were married in 1996, by which time her career was taking off and before long she had become creative director of Smythsons, the Bond Street stationer; she remained in that post until her husband entered Downing Street, since when she has retained a part-time consultancy there.
Their marriage doubtless suffered additional strains as they coped with the severe disabilities of eldest son, Ivan, who died in February 2009, but they have been blessed with three other children - Nancy, Elwen and Florence - the last of whom was born in Cornwall during the family summer holiday a few months after entering Downing Street.
“SamCam” - as the tabloids have christened her - has opted to be a Prime Ministerial spouse more in the Norma Major mould than that of Cherie Blair, staying out of the limelight and definitely keeping out of public politics. But she did make regular appearances during the general election campaign, in particular getting involved in the promotion of social action projects, about which she blogged on the party website and talked about online for “WebSamCameron”. She has also involved herself in charity work and hosted receptions for good causes at Downing Street. Most recently she has become an ambassador for Save the Children.
But that's not to say she does not have views which she impresses upon the Prime Minister. In a rare interview with The Sunday Times she let some of her views slip. She told Eleanor Mills that her sympathies lie a long way from Sarah Palin and America's "far right". David Cameron's biographers, Francis Elliott and James Hanning, wrote that she is a “powerful influence” on him who “accepted the Tory modernising message before her husband”, whilst his close friend Andrew Feldman is quoted as describing her as “a good barometer” who is “tremendously grounded”, with “a good sense of what is important and what's not, but also of what's important to other people”.
If you do not subscribe to the ConservativeHome Quarterly you can purchase a copy by sending a £20 cheque, payable to ConservativeHome, to Michelle Hollands, ConservativeHome, 5 The Sanctuary, Westminster SW1P 3JS.
ConservativeHome has launched a 40,000 word guide to the one hundred most influential people and groups on the Right. We are currently publishing some of the profiles contained in that guide. Already published are profiles of David Cameron, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and the Class of 2010. If you do not subscribe to the ConservativeHome Quarterly you can purchase a copy by sending a £20 cheque, payable to ConservativeHome, to Michelle Hollands, ConservativeHome, 5 The Sanctuary, Westminster SW1P 3JS.
Both Cameron and Clegg made their parties more liberal. The changes Cameron made always received more attention but Clegg restored his own party's liberal and reforming traditions. Under his predecessors, the social democratic and Labour-leaning traditions within the party had become dominant. Paddy Ashdown had explicitly described the Liberal Democrats as a party of the Left. He, and Kennedy and Campbell after him, yearned for an alliance with Labour. Clegg moved the party on from this and built on one of the most important collections of essays in modern British politics - Paul Marshall's Orange Book.
For the Orange Book Liberal Democrats privatisation, public service reform and fiscal conservatism were not swear words. They were unhappy with the status quo and felt that centralised producer interests within the state often acted against the interests of consumers and local communities.
Although more left-leaning Liberal Democrats, including Vince Cable, contributed to the Orange Book, the reality is that the true believing Orange Bookers are very small in number. Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, Jeremy Browne and David Laws have enjoyed as disproportionate influence on their party as David Cameron, George Osborne, Francis Maude and Oliver Letwin have had on the Conservative Party. There aren't many true Cameroons and there aren't many true Orange Bookers but both have dominated their parties.
The big question for the future of the Coalition is whether the Orange Bookers will continue to enjoy the upper hand. At the start of the alliance between the two parties the Liberal Democrats played the role that David Laws has advocated for them. They were a motor in the government and, for example, strengthened the Tory Right's hand in favour of taking the low-paid out of income tax and Iain Duncan Smith's case for welfare reform. More recently the Orange Bookers have been struggling to overcome the default instincts of their party. Every survey of the Liberal Democrat membership suggests a strong left-wing bias and as the likes of Cable, Farron, Hughes and Huhne jockey for internal positions they are pulling the party and the Coalition to the Left.
Ask Tory ministers about Alexander, Browne, Clegg, Davey, Laws and, perhaps surprisingly, Webb and they swoon. These provide the motors for reform. On the other side sit the brakes - Ming Campbell, Evan Harris and Shirley Williams. The fight for the soul of the Liberal Democrats has probably only just begun.
ConservativeHome has launched a 40,000 word guide to the one hundred most influential people and groups on the Right. We are currently publishing some of the profiles contained in that guide. Already published are profiles of David Cameron, Michael Gove and the Class of 2010. If you do not subscribe to the ConservativeHome Quarterly you can purchase a copy by sending a £20 cheque, payable to ConservativeHome, to Michelle Hollands, ConservativeHome, 5 The Sanctuary, Westminster SW1P 3JS.
The alternative Boris Johnson biography reads as follows: After Eton, Oxford and the Bullingdon Club, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson failed to obtain the first class degree which his contemporary, David Cameron, gained at the same University. Lasting only a week as a management consultant, he went on to be sacked by the Times for falsifying a quote. Surviving the revelation of a phone conversation revealing a plot by a friend to assault a journalist, he was appointed as a Daily Telegraph columnist and Editor of the Spectator. Reneging on a undertaking to its proprietor not to stand for Parliament, he was elected as the Conservative MP for Henley. Following accusations of having lied to Michael Howard, the Party's then leader, he was sacked from its front bench. Failing to be appointed to its Shadow Cabinet by David Cameron, he was backed by his old Oxford colleague to be the Party's candidate for the Mayoralty of London after a prominent search for another candidate. Johnson then won the election, gathering in doing so the largest personal mandate of any politician in British history.
That this vinegary narrative stands no chance whatsoever of becoming popular history, and that its protagonist is universally known as "Boris" rather than "Johnson"
ConservativeHome has launched a 40,000 word guide to the one hundred most influential people and groups on the Right. During this week we are publishing seven of the profiles contained in that guide. If you do not subscribe to the ConservativeHome Quarterly you can purchase a copy by sending a £20 cheque, payable to ConservativeHome, to Michelle Hollands, ConservativeHome, 5 The Sanctuary, Westminster SW1P 3JS.
David Cameron, Michael Gove's friend and patron, is at heart a Home Counties-reared, rather posh, old-fashioned One Nation Conservative. George Osborne, another friend and close colleague, is a London-raised social and economic liberal. Though both men are primarily calculating professional politicians, their instincts and prejudices are easy to weigh. Gove himself is a more elusive personality.
The man at the heart of the Government's education reforms - the area to date in which it has most achieved its ambitions - doesn't know his birth parents: he was adopted. His father ran a fish processing business; his mother was a laboratory assistant. He was raised not in the south of England, but in Aberdeen, and educated not at a famous public school - let alone Eton - but at Robert Gordon's College, an independent day school to which he won a scholarship.
This unsettling vantage may help to explain some of the paradoxes of the Education Secretary. A Minister who though both intellectually and politically gifted is seldom named during the old game of naming future Conservative leaders. The exquisitely polite boulevardier who is also a ruthlessly forensic debater. The late-to-learn driver with a fear of flying who showed an early zest for confrontational war on terror. The champion of Israel who is yet to visit the country. The journalistic hammer of the first Blair Government in Fleet Street who transformed himself into an early Tory moderniser and admirer of the Labour Prime Minister who waged the Iraq War and set up academies.
ConservativeHome has launched a 40,000 word guide to the one hundred most influential people and groups on the Right. During this week we are publishing seven of the profiles contained in that guide. Number one in our list is the Prime Minister, David Cameron, published yesterday. If you do not subscribe to the ConservativeHome Quarterly you can purchase a copy by sending a £20 cheque, payable to ConservativeHome, to Michelle Hollands, ConservativeHome, 5 The Sanctuary, Westminster SW1P 3JS.
At the 2010 general election there were no fewer than 147 new Conservative MPs elected to the Commons for the first time - along with one retread, Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North). This huge influx of new blood represents nearly half the entire parliamentary party and, even more significantly, nearly two thirds of the Tory backbenches, once ministers and whips are taken out of the equation.
But perhaps the most important point to bear in mind about the 2010 intake is the long-term influence they will have collectively, rather than as individuals, over the Conservative Party in the years – indeed, decades – to come. David Cameron may have presided over the most radical single overhaul of the composition of the Conservative parliamentary party in history. Scores of these new MPs will remain in the Commons long after he has left Downing Street, long after the Coalition has expired and long after the 2010 Tory manifesto has disappeared on a dust-covered shelf.
And whilst they may have entered the Commons on Cameron’s watch, it should not be assumed that they are all in the Prime Minister’s mould. Yes, there are a few who have joined the party since he became leader – like Rehman Chishti (Gillingham), Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park), Helen Grant (Maidstone and the Weald) and Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) - but the vast majority are long-standing Tory members, most of whom cut their political teeth during the 1980s, making them “Thatcher’s Children” rather than “Cameron’s Children”.
ConservativeHome is today launching a 40,000 word guide to the one hundred most influential people and groups on the Right. Over the next few days we will be publishing seven of the profiles contained in that guide. Number two in our list is the Prime Minister David Cameron. If you do not subscribe to the ConservativeHome Quarterly you can purchase a copy by sending a £20 cheque, payable to ConservativeHome, to Michelle Hollands, ConservativeHome, 5 The Sanctuary, Westminster SW1P 3JS.
During his six years as Tory leader David Cameron has been very lucky with his opponents and very unlucky with events.
His opponent for the Tory leadership was David Davis. Typically for a frontrunner in a Tory leadership race, Davis fell short. He ran a complacent and disorganised campaign and although he got his act together in the final stages of the contest it was too late. Cameron cruised to a landslide victory. Cameron has faced three Labour leaders and each of them has been weak. By December 2005 when Cameron became Tory leader, Tony Blair, the most potent Tory-killing politician that the Labour Party had ever produced, was a shadow of his former self. Brown could have inflicted a fourth successive defeat on the Conservatives if he’d had the courage to call an election in September 2007 but Brown never possessed much courage. He waited too long to take on Blair and ‘bottler Brown’ dithered too long over calling a honeymoon election. And today there’s Ed Miliband. Conservatives can’t decide whether the Red Ed or Odd Ed factor is the Leader of the Opposition’s greatest weakness. Whatever the answer David Cameron goes to bed every night thanking his lucky stars that his principal opponent is someone with an out-of-the-mainstream economic policy and a character that just does not look prime ministerial.
But if the opponents have been a blessing, events haven’t been kind to Cameron. He began his leadership of the Conservative Party with a focus on mending Britain’s broken society but the economic, expenses and Murdoch crises have all come along to knock him off course and test his flexibility. None of these crises have floored him but many wonder if he would now be a Prime Minister of a majority Conservative government if voters hadn’t been frightened by the prospect of Cameron’s “age of austerity”.
The failure to win the 2010 general election was certainly the most disappointing moment of Cameron’s leadership. The Conservatives had been twenty points ahead in many opinion polls but a lacklustre and disjointed general election campaign followed a series of strategic positioning errors. The Conservatives did not use their years in opposition to develop a robust prosperity message. On issues like climate change and the Big Society Cameron was too far removed from the bread-and-butter concerns of the striving class. And in agreeing to equal participation for Nick Clegg in the election debates he handed a game changer to Britain’s third party.
But if the failure to win the election was a terrible low point Cameron has gambled that the decision to form Britain’s first post-war Coalition will realign British politics and, perhaps, be his lasting political achievement. Although the likes of Vince Cable and Chris Huhne often annoy him, Cameron is keener on the company of Clegg, Alexander, Browne and Laws than on the company of Bone, Cash, Dorries, and Pritchard or even Brady, Davis, Forsyth and Redwood. There may never be a formal Tory-Lib Dem pact but the uber-modernisers in Cameron’s circle would desperately like some sort of continuing arrangement with the Liberal Democrats’ Orange Book minority. Cameron believes that many of today’s senior Liberal Democrats would have been wearing blue rosettes if his greener, more socially just and liberal brand of Tory politics had existed fifteen or twenty years ago. The Cameroonian emphasis on civil liberties, homosexual equality, overseas aid and NHS funding certainly made the Coalition a possibility. Clegg could never have allied with Michael Howard’s brand.
The Cameron brand is not a deeply ideological brand. It’s too early to know whether today’s Conservative Prime Minister will be more like Thatcher than Heath in terms of pace and realisation of radical reform but he’s definitely a Tory leader in the Macmillan mode. Bruce Anderson has said that Cameron would ideally like to combine the social stability of the 1950s with the economic dynamism of the 1980s. Such a combination is fraught with contradiction but it captures something important about Cameron’s essential Englishness. He’s wanted to be Prime Minister for all of his adult life but never at the expense of his time with his wife and the family he cherishes. There’s not a part of him that isn’t conservative but every part is in moderation. He’s fiscally conservative but is ready to raise taxes as well as cut spending. He’s socially conservative but in a very modern, gay-friendly way. He’s a law and order conservative but also aims to address the causes of crime. He’s an interventionist in the affairs of other nations but in a way that is much more humble than Blair or Bush. He’s most certainly a Unionist and patriot but he shies away from a confrontation with Brussels.
For many in the Conservative Party Cameron doesn’t offer them enough red meat or enough clear blue water between Britain and the EU. Conservatives desperately want to rebalance Britain’s relationship with Brussels and the party could become very unhappy indeed if the Euro crisis isn’t used to deliver renegotiation and repatriation of powers. Cameron would do well to study Obama’s difficulties with his own Democratic party. Obama has failed to love his party and his party hasn’t been there for him in his time of danger. Cameron needs to do more to build better relations with his MPs and activists and involve more people in his project. There is a sense that the friends of twenty or more years who dominate his inner circle are too closed to the views of rank-and-file Conservatives. This may be unfair but one of the most important skills in a great leader is party management and Cameron has often been careless with his. He has never, for example, rehabilitated an internal party opponent who has fallen out of favour with him. He needs to learn to do forgiveness.
Nonetheless Cameron currently dominates British politics. The Labour party is in a strategically weak position. The Liberal Democrats would face annihilation if they brought down his government. The Tory Right is becoming a little more organised but remains too balkanised to challenge him in any serious way. His relationship with his Chancellor is rock solid. After years of disunity all previous Tory leaders are in Cameron’s corner, actively helping him to succeed. On the deficit, crime, state benefits and immigration he has the public on his side. In his reforms to schools and the welfare state he has policies that are both resonant and potentially transformational. In Steve Hilton’s underestimated transparency agenda he has tools that will produce a new era of accountability to the public sector. If he can get the economy growing he will be able to afford to refocus on his great cause – social responsibility – and, then, his best and happiest years may be ahead of him.
Tomorrow we will reveal the number one in The Right List.