I’m a list addict. I love reading them, and I love compiling them, especially political ones. Back in 1998 I published The Unofficial Book of Political Lists and nine years later started compiling lists of the Top 100 Most Influential People on the Right, followed the next year by the Top 100 Most Influential People on the Left. These lists proved a hit and I continued to do them annually for a number of years. Last year, I compiled the first ever Top 100 People in Politics list for Mace .
In some ways, compiling such a list is a mug’s game. It can be out of date the day after it goes to press. We started work on this year’s list back in June, but our wise editor held off pressing any buttons until mid-September, and it’s just as well she did, given that an extensive reshuffle took place.
The reshuffle presented several dilemmas, not least what to do with Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary who was demoted to the Ministry of Justice, but at the same time promoted to deputy prime minister. Some would argue he should have fallen not only outside the Top Ten, but also the Top 20, but in these circumstances, you rely on what you know. And what I know is that Raab is still very highly rated both by the Number 10 machine and the Prime Minister himself, and that this had been long planned. So he only moves down one place, to number nine.
It ought not to be this way but the most interesting thing about this year’s list is who’s not on it, rather than who is. Last year, Dominic Cummings was number three, but this year doesn’t figure at all. That’s politics. Why didn’t we include him, even lower down? It was a close-run thing. It’s true that up until fairly recently every public pronouncement he made garnered headlines, but is that still the case now, given he has failed to deliver the promised bombshell emails to the select committee chairs? Instead, he’s tucked away on a small corner of the internet, talking to a small group of people who pay £5 a month for the privilege of hearing his great announcements.
In addition, the list loses Matt Hancock, Robert Jenrick, Robert Buckland, Sian Berry, Arlene Foster, Len McCluskey, Sir Simon Stevens, Gina Miller, Alex Salmond and, er, Stormzy. In all, there are 33 new entries to the list, but only one goes straight into the Top Ten – Sajid Javid. Nadhim Zahawi, Marcus Rashford and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson complete the four new entries in the Top 20. This will be a crucial year for the new leader of the DUP, given that Sinn Féin are on the march in Northern Ireland. This time next year he could be first minister or leader of a shrunken party. That’s why the Northern Ireland elections next year could easily propel Michelle O’Neill into the Top 20.
In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon moves up one place to three, with Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, new Labour leader Anas Sarwar, SNP finance minister Kate Forbes and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford making up the Scottish contingent. In Wales, first minister Mark Drakeford climbs to 12, while Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price drops 13 places to 71, while finance minister Vaughan Gethings, who made such an impact in the health portfolio makes the cut as a new entry.
The highest climbers in the chart are Liz Truss, who moves 34 places to number five, Andy Burnham, who rises 20 places to number 20, and his Manchester colleague Angela Rayner climbing from 64 to 27. Interestingly most of the big risers come from the left.
The biggest faller, from 33 to 70, is Nigel Farage. While he remains in this year’s list, one suspects it might be his last year unless he makes yet another re-entry into active politics.
Compared to last year’s list, the two main parties have strengthened their grip with 76 of the 100 people belonging to one or the other, but the proportion of Conservatives to Labour has widened to 41-34 from 32-28 last year. Interestingly the balance of left and right has shifted from 44-38 in favour of the left to 44-43 in favour of the right. There are 33 women compared to 32 last year and 17 people from ethnic minorities, a rise of three from 2020.
On the Labour front, Sir Keir Starmer fails to climb into the Top Ten. Indeed, he drops a place to 13, and eight shadow cabinet members manage to make the list, and Rachel Reeves, Angela Rayner, David Lammy and Jonathan Ashworth are the only ones to make the Top 50. It’s never easy for a shadow cabinet to gain visibility, but it has to be said that this one is more invisible than most. The Liberal Democrats have failed to make any inroads into the list beyond their sole representative, Sir Ed Davey. Reform UK’s leader Richard Tice is a new entry at 100.
In many ways, this list has very much a ‘steady as she goes’ feel about it, despite the number of new entries. We don’t feel the 2022 list will be radically different either, especially in the upper echelons. The only thing that may change that is a leadership change in either of the main parties.
01. Boris Johnson
A flamboyant orator with Marmite appeal, Boris Johnson’s popularity beyond Westminster has propelled his political career, seeing him take over as leader of the Conservative Party and British prime minister in July 2019. A snap election in December 2019 brought about a new Conservative majority of 80, the largest Conservative victory since 1987, reflecting Johnson’s allure to large swathes of the British public and the attractiveness of his commitment to “get Brexit done”. Johnson initially leant on the advice of Vote Leave alumni Dominic Cummings until his dramatic exit in November 2020. Cummings has since denigrated Johnson in a series of select committee hearings and accompanying tweets, even releasing WhatsApp screenshots of the prime minister’s most informal responses to crises. The past year has also seen serious questions about cronyism hurled at the Johnson administration – concerning the role of non-executive directors (NEDs), government contracts and lobbying. Johnson’s approval ratings, however, have stayed relatively stable. He has also hosted the G7 summit in Cornwall and has presided over an undeniably successful vaccine rollout.
02. Rishi Sunak
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Former investment banker Rishi Sunak became chancellor of the exchequer just five years after he entered the Commons: he succeeded the former foreign secretary William Hague as member of parliament for Richmond in North Yorkshire in 2015. After Theresa May’s resignation, Sunak supported Boris Johnson in the Conservative leadership contest and was rewarded with the role of chief secretary to the treasury, before replacing Sajid Javid as chancellor at the start of the pandemic. In 2020, he came to symbolise a new kind of Conversative government: one that spends. His £14-billion-per-month furlough scheme and much-criticised Eat Out to Help Out scheme were simply preludes to a much greater economic reset, however. On the prime minister’s and his watch, taxes are rising to their highest level since the Second World War, in a £36 billion move to reduce soaring NHS waiting lists and tackle the social care crisis.
03. Nicola Sturgeon
Scottish First Minister
Having joined the SNP in 1986, Nicola Sturgeon was first elected to Scottish parliament in 1999 and rose to become her party’s deputy leader in 2004. In the wake of the 2014 independence referendum, she succeeded Alex Salmond as SNP leader, and first minister, and has since overseen a surge in support for Scottish nationalism. Sturgeon has survived the fallout of charges of sexual assault against Salmond: she was cleared of breaching the ministerial code after allegations that she had “misled” the Scottish Parliament. Similarly, Salmond’s establishment of the rival pro-independence party Alba did not dent her electoral strength. However, her party failed to gain an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament at the 2021 elections, putting plans for an imminent ‘indyref2’ on ice, but support continues to grow nevertheless. Sturgeon has been praised for her steady management of Scotland’s coronavirus policies.
04. Liz Truss
Liz Truss’s recent promotion to foreign secretary is a reward for her effectiveness at the Department of International Trade, where she signed numerous bilateral deals and helped support the post-Brexit, Global Britain agenda. Elected in 2010 as the Conservative MP for South West Norfolk, she has also served as Environment Secretary, Lord Chancellor and Chief Secretary to the Treasury. As Lord Chancellor, Truss was criticised for not defending the High Court’s decision to prevent the Royal Prerogative from triggering Article 50, later upheld in the Supreme Court. Truss is also minister for women and equalities; her equality policy is noticeably anti-woke, as she eradicated unconscious bias training for the government and civil service in December 2020.
05. Michael Gove
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government
Born in Aberdeen, Michael Gove met Boris Johnson at university, helping him in his campaign to become president of the Oxford Union, a role to which Gove was elected the following year. As education secretary from 2010, Gove implemented wide-ranging reforms including the roll-out of free schools, allowing outstanding schools to become academies, and changes to GCSEs. These policies were controversial, and his perceived unpopularity perhaps led to his demotion to the less high-profile role of chief whip in 2014. In 2015, Gove was appointed as justice secretary. He was removed from government by Theresa May in 2016 but later returned to the cabinet as environment secretary in 2017. A two-time leadership contender, Gove was appointed as chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, with special responsibility for no-deal planning, moving to housing secretary in the Autumn reshuffle. He is widely considered to be positioning himself in preparedness for the post-Johnson era.
06. Munira Mirza
Director, Number 10 Policy Unit
Dr Munira Mirza is head of Number 10’s policy unit and has been a key ally of Boris Johnson for many years. Once a student radical and member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Mirza has more recently worked at the centre-right think tank Policy Exchange for Boris Johnson at City Hall, and as an academic at King’s College London. She co-authored the 2019 Conservative Manifesto, which pledged to boost police numbers and increase NHS funding. Once touted as a potential London mayoral candidate, in June 2020, she was the controversial choice to oversee the government’s race commission and has questioned the validity of arguments alleging the existence of institutional racism in the UK, arguing in The Spectator that “anti-racism is being weaponised across the political spectrum”. Mirza is a frequent and public backer of Johnson’s spikier side. An Oldham-born, comprehensive-educated Muslim woman, Mirza brings diversity of thought and experience to her role and has repeatedly shown herself to be a true loyalist.
07. Priti Patel
First elected to parliament in 2010, Priti Patel became exchequer secretary to the Treasury in 2014 and employment minister after the 2015 general election. Under Theresa May she was promoted to the role of international development secretary but, in November 2017, she was sacked after it emerged that she had held meetings with senior Israeli politicians without disclosing them to the prime minister. Boris Johnson appointed her as Home Secretary in July 2019. In November 2020, Patel was found to have breached the ministerial code following allegations of bullying being made by staff members of three different departments. Johnson, however, lent her his support and she has stayed in the post, focusing on her dual aims of securing borders and increasing police powers. In January this year, a tougher points-based immigration system came into place. In June, Patel introduced a policing bill with stricter rules regarding the right to protest aiming to reduce disruption despite mass ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstrations protesting the measures as undemocratic.
08. Dominic Raab
Justice Secretary, Lord Chancellor & Deputy Prime Minister
Former solicitor and Foreign Office lawyer, Dominic Raab was first elected as the Conservative MP for Esher and Walton in 2010 and was one of several ministers to join the Vote Leave campaign in 2016. Raab became justice minister after the 2017 general election and then housing minister in 2018. Following David Davis’s resignation over Theresa May’s Chequers proposal in July that year, Raab was appointed Brexit secretary. He served in the post for just four months before resigning over Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement. When Boris Johnson became prime minister in July 2019, Raab was appointed foreign secretary and first secretary of state. In 2021, Raab has “delivered Brexit”, run the G7 presidency and shifted the direction of foreign policy towards an Indo-Pacific tilt. However, he faced criticism for delaying his return to the UK following the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, delegating responsibility for calls to help secure the safe passage of Afghani interpreters and other allies. Despite collecting the title of deputy prime minister, his move to run Justice is a demotion.
09. Sajid Javid
Secretary of State for Health
Sajid Javid was appointed health secretary in June 2021, following Matt Hancock’s abrupt departure, and just before England’s restrictions were eased. Javid was seen as more enthusiastic about the end of public health restrictions than his predecessor, suggesting that the UK needed to learn to “live with the virus”. Ironically, two days before the grand unlocking Javid tested positive for Covid triggering both the prime minister and chancellor to self-isolate for ten days. A former banker, Javid was first elected to parliament in 2010 and was quickly promoted, joining the cabinet in 2014 as culture secretary and becoming the first British Pakistani MP to lead a department. He has also served as business secretary, and communities and local government secretary. As home secretary, he changed the law to make medical cannabis available on the NHS – and revoked Shamima Begum’s British citizenship after her involvement with the so-called Islamic State group. Javid stood unsuccessfully in the Conservative leadership election in 2019 but subsequently served as chancellor for seven months. A neoconservative, he has consistently supported foreign military intervention.
10. Simon Case
Cabinet Secretary & Head of the Civil Service
Described by the BBC as “the most important man in politics you’ve probably never heard of”, Simon Case is, at 42 years old, the youngest ever head of the civil service. Brought into Downing Street in May 2020 to help oversee the coronavirus response, he has held civil service roles in the Cabinet Office and the Northern Ireland Office as well as serving as director of strategy at GCHQ and helping oversee the 2012 Olympic Games. Case was also part of the original team involved in Brexit talks, but left in 2018 to become Prince William’s private secretary, successfully modernising the couple’s PR operations. He was personally encouraged by the prime minister to apply for his current position and his selection appears to have been supported by Dominic Cummings, who thought Case might be able to influence the prime minister on his behalf. The past year has seen Case order civil servants to declare paid roles that “might conflict” with their positions, following the Greensill scandal. He has also issued guidance after the security and ethical issues raised by “government by WhatsApp”.
11. Andrew Bailey
Governor of the Bank of England
Andrew Bailey did not take over governorship of the Bank of England (BofE) at an easy time. In mid-March 2020, the impact of Covid was unavoidable and he had to take quick action to respond to the economic downturn. Within a week of taking up his position, the Monetary Policy Committee cut interest rates to an historic low of 0.1 per cent and the BoE had taken a range of other measures to support business and the economy. 2021 has seen a continuation of this approach. Over the past two years, Bailey has been at the centre of worries over rising inflation. He previously served as the BoE’s chief cashier for seven years (2004 to 2011) and was most recently the CEO of the Financial Conduct Authority. Bailey is a BoE lifer and is generally considered a cautious and competent overseer. While he is not as interested in media attention as some of his predecessors, he has recently championed the view that increased racial diversity amongst the Bank’s employees would improve its decision-making.
12. Mark Drakeford
First Minister of Wales
Welsh Labour’s Mark Drakeford has been the first minister of Wales since December 2018, but his involvement in politics long predates his election in 2011. His career in local politics started on the South Glamorgan County Council in 1985, he participated heavily in the successful 1997 “Yes For Wales” campaign for devolution, and served from 2000 to 2010 as an advisor on health and policy in the Welsh cabinet, eventually heading up the first minister’s office. Within the assembly, Drakeford has served as chair of the Health and Social Committee, minister for health and social services, cabinet secretary for finance and local government, and cabinet secretary for finance with responsibility for Brexit. A favourite with the trade unions and an early supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, Drakeford’s gentle tone and competent handling of his country’s covid response have made him the first Welsh minister to be recognised across the United Kingdom.
13. Sir Keir Starmer
Leader of the Labour Party
Former head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Sir Keir Starmer began his political career in 2015 when he was chosen to succeed Frank Dobson as MP for Holborn and St Pancras. He was soon holding key roles in opposition including shadow Brexit secretary, where he has criticised the government’s approach to negotiations and favoured a second referendum to break the Brexit log-jam. Elected leader of the opposition in April 2020, his primary concern has been the government’s response to covid, which he has deemed a disaster. This year has seen continued internal debate around whether Starmer is charismatic and visionary enough to succeed in his role. While recent council, mayoral and two by-election results have not signalled huge optimism for Labour, neither have they implied absolute failure.
14. Sir Lindsay Hoyle
Speaker of the House of Commons
On his election to replace John Bercow as Commons speaker in November 2019, Lindsay Hoyle vowed to be a neutral occupant of the chair. A popular and agreeable parliamentarian with friendships across the House, he is the most important figure in facilitating MPs and holding ministers to account in the House of Commons. Hoyle was first elected as MP for Chorley in 1997 and sat on the Trade and Industry and European Scrutiny Committees. In June 2010, he was chosen as chairman of ways and means and deputy speaker. In June 2021, Hoyle threatened to escalate the issue of government announcements being made outside of the Chamber, saying that Downing Street was “running roughshod” over MPs. He was knighted in the 2018 New Year honours for parliamentary and political services.
15. David Frost
Minister of State in the Cabinet Office
David Frost became well-known as the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator on the Withdrawal Agreement, Northern Ireland Protocol and the Trade & Cooperation Agreement for Boris Johnson’s government. He previously served as the UK’s ambassador to Denmark from 2006 and 2008, and held several senior positions in Whitehall, before becoming chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association. Frost joined the Johnson administration in July 2019, and his appointment as UK national security adviser in June 2020 attracted criticism with former PM Theresa May stating that Frost had “no proven expertise” in the area. Now a life peer, Frost serves as a minister in the Cabinet Office serving as UK representative for Brexit and international policy.
16. Karen Pierce
UK Ambassador to the United States
Dame Karen Pierce is the UK ambassador to the United States, holding the post since February 2020, and is the first woman to hold the position. Pierce joined the Foreign Office in 1981 and climbed the ranks to reach her first ambassadorial role, to Afghanistan, from 2015 to 2016. She became the UK’s permanent representative to the UN in 2018 (following an equivalent appointment to the UN in Geneva in 2012). After predecessor Kim Darroch’s acrimonious resignation as ambassador to the US amid a leaked critical analysis of the president at the time, Donald Trump. Pierce was seen as a cautious and stable choice to take up the post. Following Trump’s departure, she has overseen the new ‘special relationship’ between Joe Biden and Boris Johnson, which has been said not to have been as easy or natural as the rapport enjoyed between Johnson and Trump. Scepticism around the current transatlantic relationship increased when Washington did not seem to consult the UK about plans for the military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
17. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Leader, Democratic Unionist Party
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and leader of his party in the House of Commons. He is also their longest-serving MP, elected in 1996 as MP for Lagan Valley. Donaldson initially took part in the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, but walked out of the talks in protest at several measures in the agreement. After months of public disagreement with the then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Donaldson left the party in 2003 and joined the DUP in early 2004. He has held several shadow spokesperson roles, served as the DUP’s chief whip and was knighted in 2016 for political service. Since December 2019, Donaldson has served as his party’s leader in Westminster. In 2021, he was elected leader of the DUP after Edwin Poots resigned following a turbulent 21 days as leader. Donaldson has said that he intends to resign as an MP to become Northern Ireland first minister before the next NI Assembly election.
18. Marcus Rashford
Footballer & Activist
Marcus Rashford is at the heart of football’s growing influence on politics. The 23-year-old Manchester United striker, now appointed as an MBE, successfully influenced the government to extend free school meals for 1.3 million children. Since then, he has partnered with over 100 local businesses, cafés and councils to extend the supply of free meals to impoverished children. He has been a vocal spokesman against racism on social media and in football, particularly after the Euro 2020 final which saw BME players from the English team receive racial abuse for missing their penalties. Most recently he has been campaigning to retain the £20 a week uplift in universal credit introduced as a temporary measure at the beginning of the pandemic. Boris Johnson has quipped that Rashford has been “more effective than the leader of the opposition”.
19. Nadhim Zahawi
Nadhim Zahawi co-founded polling company YouGov in 2010 and was chief executive of the company up until his election to parliament in 2010 as MP for Stratford-upon-Avon. In 2013, he was appointed to the prime minister’s policy board with special responsibility for business and the economy. Zahawi was a parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Education in Theresa May’s government and, following Boris Johnson’s appointment as prime minister, became parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and parliamentary undersecretary of state for Covid-19 vaccine deployment since 2020 which has undoubtedly been a success, with Zahawi duly appointed education secretary in the autumn 2021 reshuffle following Gavin Williamson’s departure.
20. Andy Burnham
Mayor of Greater Manchester
After a 16-year stint in parliament, Andy Burnham became the mayor of Greater Manchester in 2017. The MP for Leigh rose to national prominence as a campaigner for the Hillsborough families, persuading Gordon Brown to establish the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which led to the second inquiry into the 1989 tragedy. Burnham has often been critical of London-centric politics: in 2015 he bemoaned the “Westminster bubble” and has criticised the government for not meeting expectations on the Northern Powerhouse infrastructure plan. He has continued to argue for increased devolution within England. He gained national celebrity status in 2020 when he rallied against the tiered, regional lockdown approach which saw Mancunians’ lives restricted with, as he saw it, inadequate economic support. The mayoral elections this May cemented his popularity: he won 67.3 per cent of the vote. Burnham is the bookies’ favourite to succeed Keir Starmer as leader of the Labour Party, despite the fact that he has stood and failed to be elected twice before.
21. Justin WELBY
Archbishop of Canterbury
A religious leader with a social justice focus, Justin Welby has been the Archbishop of Canterbury since 2013. He previously served as Dean of Liverpool and Bishop of Durham. He has been particularly focused on promoting the role of the Church of England within wider society – campaigning alongside global religious leaders against modern slavery, the persecution of Christians, and highlighted the disaster of increasing numbers of people relying on food banks. The Archbishop told the Trades Union Congress: “I dream that governments… put church-run food banks out of business.” Welby also spoke out against racial abuse of England footballers in the Euro 2020 penalty shootouts, calling for abusers to be “held accountable”. He is seeking the modernise the Church’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights and is hoping to permit clergy to conduct same-sex marriages by 2022.
22. Dan Rosenfield
Chief of Staff, Number 10 Downing Street
Dan Rosenfield’s appointment as Downing Street Chief of Staff was a turn away from Dominic Cummings’ former quest for “weirdos and misfits” and signals a shift back to the banality of experts. He brings strong commercial experience having worked at Hakluyt as global head of corporate clients, running the UK side of the business, and formerly held a senior role at Bank of America. Rosenfield spent more than ten years as an official at the Treasury, acting as principal private secretary to Alistair Darling and George Osborne when they were chancellors. Appointed to bring in stability, he is alleged to be “losing allies and alienating toilers in Downing Street” with his distant demeanour.
23. Tom Scholar
Permanent Secretary, HM Treasury
Tom Scholar is the most senior official at the UK Treasury and was reappointed for another five-year term at the start of 2021. His position was secured due to a strong working relationship with Rishi Sunak, who was impressed with the Treasury’s response to the pandemic, particularly the rapid introduction of the furlough scheme to support jobs during lockdown. The extension also shows Boris Johnson’s shifting view in favour of experienced civil servants – something frowned upon during the year of Cummings’ reign. Scholar first joined the treasury in 1992, but earned his status while overseeing a successful period of economic growth under Gordon Brown. He has also worked in Washington as the British representative on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank boards, and as Downing Street chief of staff. Earlier this year, Scholar revealed that he was one of the figures who was contacted by David Cameron on behalf of investment firm Greensill Capital.
24. Jack Doyle
Director of Communications, Number 10 Downing Street
Jack Doyle is Downing Street’s new head of spin. The son of a policeman, Doyle left the role of Daily Mail associate editor for politics to join Number 10 in 2020. This year, he was promoted to director of communications, after being considered by some as the “continuity candidate”. Doyle succeeded James Slack, another former Daily Mail journalist, who subsequently became deputy editor of The Sun. Rather dramatically, Doyle was accused by the departing Dominic Cummings of being the one responsible for leaking damaging information about the government to the mainstream media.
25. Richard Hughes
Chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility
Richard Hughes began a five-year term as chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) at the end of last year, succeeding Robert Chote who had held the role for ten years. Hughes started his bulging career at HM Treasury in 2000, later leading the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review. Shortly after taking up his post, the OBR issued a series of devastating forecasts accompanying the chancellor’s spending review. Hughes, who formerly worked at the IMF in Zimbabwe (when the country’s economy had been destroyed by hyperinflation) has stated – confidently – that “knowing where the bodies are buried” regarding “the government’s accounting tricks” is “a really big advantage”. The OBR has been struggling to predict the UK’s long-term growth after the pandemic; it has recently raised its forecast. Following August’s IPCC report, Hughes stated that “early decisive action to tackle carbon emissions could halve the overall fiscal cost of getting to net zero”.
26. Paul Johnson
Director, Institute for Fiscal Studies
Paul Johnson has been the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), the London-based think tank “launched with the principal aim of better informing public debate on economics” since 2011. He is outstandingly articulate, and can often be found explaining the IFS’ analysis in the media. This year he has spoken of the dangers of newly rampant – and even enforced – working from home protocols as being bad for both communication and productivity. He is a current visiting professor at University College London in the Department of Economics, with his work focusing on income distribution, public finances, social security, education and climate change. Awarded a CBE in 2018, Johnson has also previously held advisory roles in the Cabinet Office, HM Treasury, the Department for Education and has also served as the deputy head of the Government Economic Service.
27. Angela Rayner
Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy Lancaster
Angela Rayner was sacked as Labour Party Chair by Keir Starmer after the disappointing 2021 by-elections – nevertheless, her status as deputy Labour leader was saved from the threat of reshuffle, in that it is a directly elected post. Starmer was forced to subsequently appoint her shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – a U-turn catalysed by Andy Burnham, who publicly tore Starmer apart for dismissing a working-class Northern woman from a top party job: Rayner was raised in poverty in Stockport, leaving school at 16 to raise her newborn son while studying social care. As a care worker, she joined the union movement, becoming North West convenor for Unison before initially entering parliament in 2015 as MP for Ashton-Under-Lyne.
28. Michelle O’Neill
Deputy First Minister, Northern Ireland
Michelle O’Neill has played a key role in the Northern Ireland Executive’s pandemic response. As Northern Irish health minister from 2016 to 2017, she was deemed a knowledgeable presence at press briefings. Throughout her career, O’Neill has fought for a socially progressive Northern Irish agenda – lauded for lifting the ban on gay men donating blood and championing rights for rural dwellers, mental health and the disabled. O’Neill hails from a strong Republican background: her father was a provisional IRA prisoner who served sentences for offences during The Troubles, and her uncle was one of three IRA members shot dead by British special forces in 1991. Nevertheless, she is far more diplomatic than traditional Sein Féin leaders, becoming the first politician of the party to attend a Royal British Legion wreath-laying ceremony. The resignation of Arlene Foster in June 2021 meant O’Neill briefly lost her position before regaining it a few days later.
29. Frances O’Grady
General Secretary, Trades Union Congress
As the first female general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Frances O’Grady has led an assertive stewardship, embracing modernisation. Her tenure has included strikes by retail employees at McDonald’s and Sports Direct, and this year a call to ban umbrella companies (used to employ agency workers). O’Grady became general secretary of the TUC in 2013 and was listed as the 11th most powerful woman in Britain by Woman’s Hour that year. In June 2019, she became non-executive director for the Bank of England. As many have been unable to find their way back into work after the coronavirus pandemic, O’Grady campaigned for the furlough scheme to be maintained in order to protect workers.
30. Sadiq Khan
Mayor of London
The first Muslim to be mayor of a major European city, Sadiq Khan was a popular MP for Tooting in South London before being elected as London’s Mayor in 2016. Thought to be a landslide candidate, he was re-elected once again this year by a far narrower margin. Despite some popular policies, in particular regarding transport, he has been criticised for reversing his rent freeze election pledge and for failing to control London’s recent spike in knife crime. He has begun to focus more on air pollution; the Low Emission Zones cropping up around London have been hotly debated. He has also been a voice of concern for the government’s coronavirus policies, urging Transport for London to enforce mask wearing after the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ of 19 July.
31. Dr John Benger
Clerk to the House of Commons
The 51st Clerk of the House of Commons since the creation of the post in 1363, Dr John Benger was the unanimous choice of the selection panel that decided on David Natzler’s successor in 2019, with former speaker John Bercow commenting that the new clerk has “outstanding qualities”. This year his flat was one of five on a parliamentary estate for senior staff that were part of a secret plan to renovate using nearly £700,000 of public money. Despite this, Benger is seen as a moderniser within a typically archaic institution, having previously worked as director of service delivery within the Commons’ Department for Information Services. He has also celebrated parliament’s recent progress toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
32. Prince Charles
HRH Prince of Wales
Heir to the throne and the eldest son of the Queen, Prince Charles has been a central figure in British society for over five decades. A feeder of the foreign fetish for the monarchy, he is an enthusiastic diplomat. He has twice addressed the European Parliament and met with successive US presidents. He is also focused on a number of contemporary political issues such as environmental degradation and alternative medicine. Prince Charles is an advocate for environmental causes and recently donated personal funds to Greece after the country’s devastating wildfires. This year his ruptured relationship with youngest son, Prince Harry, has been splattered across the headlines, exacerbated by Netflix series The Crown’s depiction of Princess Diana’s toxic relationship with Buckingham Palace in the 1990s. The Prince of Wales’s charitable foundation has also recently been under scrutiny following reports it had accepted significant donations from dubious sources to fund the Prince’s pet projects.
33. Tony Blair
Former Prime Minister
Labour’s only modern blueprint for success, Tony Blair, prime minister for ten years, was the party’s only leader to win an election for the party since 1974. However, his combination of left- and right-wing policies, known as the third way, left many enraged and discombobulated. He remains a divisive presence in the Labour Party. After leaving office, he became a United Nations envoy to the Middle East, and in recent times he has been an outspoken critic of Brexit during the referendum campaign, as well as an informed voice on coronavirus policy. He currently chairs the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, a research institute working in 19 countries to provide solutions for global challenges. Blair has been a consistently influential voice during the pandemic; he was an early proponent of a 12-week delay between vaccinations – a strategy that undoubtedly helped speed up the UK’s vaccine rollout.
34. Grant Shapps
Secretary of State for Transport
In a year where travel restrictions have clamped in and clocked out, Grant Shapps has been regularly defending shifting regulation. He epitomised the chaos of the system after a mandatory 14-day quarantine was imposed – by his own department – on travellers returning from Spain while he was there himself. Despite regular press criticism, he survived Boris Johnson’s autumn reshuffle. In October, he announced a major rethink to HS2’s eastern line. Shapps has been a staple guest on news programmes defending the government’s shifting travel policies – not an easy job. The MP for Welwyn Hatfield since 2005 was previously co-chair of the Conservative Party between 2010 and 2015, and playing a central role in David Cameron’s re-election strategy in 2015.
35. Sharon Graham
General Secretary, Unite the Union
In a surprise result, Sharon Graham was elected as general secretary of Unite the Union this August succeeding Len McCluskey to become the first woman in the role. Graham is a left winger who cares deeply about organised labour: aged 17, she led an unofficial walkout in support of colleagues on casual contracts winning them equal pay. Graham’s campaign did not seek endorsement from the Left United faction and was steered away from internal politics towards the workplace – ruffling feathers on the left and within Labour. Graham’s rise through the ranks of Unite has been attributed to a meticulous attention to detail and an ability to mobilise workforces. She has come up with innovative ways to organise and defend workers and led prominent disputes at British Airways and Crossrail. Graham’s leadership is also likely to mean more strikes will affect British workplaces. As she put it: “bad bosses, take note”.
36. Rachel Reeves
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Rachel Reeves is at the forefront of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party; she has been shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and shadow minister for the Cabinet Office before replacing Annelise Dodds as shadow chancellor of the exchequer in May. Reeves was an important figure in Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet especially in the lead up to the 2015 general election. However, her promise that Labour would be “tougher than the Tories on benefits” did not strike a chord with all voters. Having dipped out of the spotlight for five years, Reeves says this has made her arguments stronger. She has identified “shining a light” on outsourcing; she is particularly passionate about the allegations of contracts being handed out to friends of ministers during the pandemic. Reeves champions an “insourcing” model which would reduce the role of private companies in public services.
37. Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade
In September 2021, Boris Johnson’s ‘Great Reshuffle’ saw Anne-Marie Trevelyan promoted from minister of state for energy, clean growth and climate change at BEIS to secretary of state for international trade. She is also the UK’s international champion on adaptation and resilience for Cop26, a position to which she was appointed in November 2020, and president of the board of international trade. First elected as an MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed in 2015, Trevelyan is a chartered accountant by trade. Upon taking up her new role, opposition MPs uncovered a series of tweets from 2010 to 2012 in which Trevelyan rejected the science of climate change referring to “global warming fanatics”. Johnson defended her by boldly bringing up his own former climate scepticism. Trevelyan herself pointed to recent work at the BEIS on the UK’s Hydrogen Strategy published in August; she also promised to place climate change at the forefront of her trade deals (an opportunity missed, according to critics, by her predecessor Liz Truss).
38. Sir David Attenborough
Environmentalist & Filmmaker
A voice for climate change that no one can argue with, Sir David Attenborough remains highly influential even at the age of 95. The wildlife explorer’s repeated cry to future generations to create a greener planet has left deeply poignant marks on many. Last year, his documentary A Life on Our Planet, clearly showed the deterioration of the environment and wildlife over his six decades of filming the natural world. Environmental researchers have identified large reductions in plastic use resulting from his films, which they’ve dubbed the “Attenborough effect”. Last year, he joined Instagram to warn that “the world is in trouble” and received a million follows in the shortest ever time period. He is currently progressing with plans for Planet Earth III.
39. Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
In 2019, Kwasi Kwarteng became the first black man to serve as a secretary of state when he was appointed to the position at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. First elected as MP for Spelthorne in 2010, Kwarteng is a former journalist and financial analyst. In 2012, Kwarteng co-authored the book Britannia Unchained arguing for a radical shrinking of the welfare state. This year, Kwarteng said that he would not take the knee following the public debate about footballers’ pre-match signal to combating racism. In his current role, Kwarteng is leading an ambitious ongoing plan to cut global carbon emissions. He has also recently pledged to follow a free-market approach in post-pandemic strategising.
40. Thérèse Coffey
Secretary of State for Work & Pensions
Thérèse Coffey has been secretary of state for work and pensions since 2019, overseeing a huge increase in claimants and benefits over successive lockdown periods. The temporary boost scheme which saw families on universal credit receive an extra £20 a week came to an end on 6 October, meaning a cut in income to almost six million people. Although six former work and pensions secretaries (and Marcus Rashford) have called for the rise to stay in place, Coffey has held the government line, saying that benefits claimants should seek to work two hours more a week, and that work coaches would help people into better-paid jobs. Coffey graduated from UCL with a PhD in Chemistry and joined the international company Mars. A chartered management accountant, Coffey was finance director for a UK subsidiary of Mars before she was elected as MP for Suffolk Coastal in 2010.
41. Carrie Johnson
Environmentalist & Wife of the Prime Minister
The prime minister’s wife and mother of his youngest child, Carrie Johnson, endured unpleasant briefings against her from the departing Dominic Cummings, who repeatedly accused her of controlling Johnson’s decision-making from their (expensively decorated) bedroom. It is clear she is a strong influence, credited with ensuring the environment remains a government priority. A former Conservative party advisor, Johnson was appointed head of communications at animal conservation charity The Aspinall Foundation in January 2021. She has used her profile to protest against whaling, condemn trophy hunters and highlight how politicians have a “gigantic responsibility to make the right decisions” over the climate crisis. She is expecting her second child with Johnson this December, having drawn praise for speaking openly about her experience of miscarriage.
42. Jeremy Hunt
Chair of the Health & Social Care Select Committee
Meticulous and diplomatic yet at times divisive in practice, Jeremy Hunt is now a prominent backbencher. The former entrepreneur was the longest-serving health secretary in history – a position he held from 2012 to 2018, which is a period that became known for spending cuts, overcrowded hospital beds and junior doctor strikes. The Surrey West MP then had a brief stint as foreign secretary under Theresa May after finishing a distant second to Boris Johnson in the leadership election. However, as chair of the Commons’ Health and Social Care Committee, he has been a credible and concerned voice during the pandemic, frequently asking his former colleagues in the cabinet to improve the NHS Track & Trace system, to be stricter on quarantining and to defer to the scientists’ advice.
43. Sir Graham Brady
Chair, 1922 Committee
An influential and widely-respected backbencher, Sir Graham Brady has been chair of the 1922 Committee since 2010 – only ducking out of the role briefly in 2019 whilst considering launching a leadership bid, a plan that did not achieve fruition. Brady is the MP for Altrincham and Sale West, a seat he won at the age of 29. In recent years, Brady has built up a reputation as “the opposition [Boris] Johnson so painfully needs” – particularly during the pandemic. He was recently re-elected as chair, signalling the prime minister’s wobbly position in the eyes of Conservative MPs this summer. Brady has been a compelling voice speaking out against lockdowns on the grounds of economic viability, mental health and excess deaths from other causes. He has also been a steering member of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group.
44. Mark Spencer
Government Chief Whip
The former farmer Mark Spencer was a surprise pick for chief whip by Boris Johnson in 2019. Spencer was seen as a relative unknown, having had just a smattering of more minor government positions under Theresa May. He is, however, a ruthless operator, and led the acrimonious September 2019 expulsion of 21 Conservative MPs following their support of the Benn Act. Spencer first qualified at Shuttleworth Agricultural College before joining the family business. He was elected to parliament in 2010 as MP for Sherwood and has used his agricultural background on environmental issues such as British food production and energy security. He has repeatedly voted against measures to combat climate change and in favour of selling off state-owned forests.
45. Dean Godson
Director, Policy Exchange
Dean Godson is the director of Policy Exchange, the well-connected centre-right think tank that includes Michael Gove among its alumni. Godson has been at Policy Exchange since 2005 (and director since 2013), but has prior experience working for politicians on both sides of the Atlantic and in journalism. A wonkish commentator with a keen interest in Northern Ireland, Godson is the author of a popular biography of David Trimble. He has also written a number of influential blog posts for ConservativeHome. Amid the Conservatives’ ongoing schism on China, Godson has observed that a tougher Downing Street approach toward the People’s Republic is likely. This was followed up by the government’s announcement that Huawei will be removed from the UK’s 5G networks by 2027, provoking fury from Chinese officials. In January 2021, Godson was given a life peerage; some commentators cited his time as Boris Johnson’s colleague at both The Spectator and The Telegraph as evidence of cronyism.
46. Sir Edward Davey
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats have endured a turbulent decade beginning with Nick Clegg’s tuition fees U-turn and ending in Jo Swinson, as party leader, losing her own seat in the 2019 election which she was hoping to win. Ed Davey won leadership of the party in August 2020. Although he has hardly made a formidable media impact, the party’s shock by-election win in Chesham and Amersham this year certainly turned heads. Davey is adamant that his party can continue the charge to take more safe Conservative seats by seducing centre-right voters who are becoming disillusioned with Johnson. Whether this was any more than a local election fluke remains to be seen. Born in Nottingham, Davey was a financial analyst before being elected as an MP in 1997, defeating the sitting Conservative MP of Surbiton. He was previously a minister in David Cameron’s coalition government.
47. Nick Thomas-Symonds
Shadow Home Secretary
As Priti Patel’s opposite number, Nick Thomas-Symonds has been quick to criticise the home secretary’s freeze of police wages; he has also raised safety concerns about refugees crossing the channel. The Labour MP for Torfaen also described the Conservatives as being “soft on crime” – an accusation that has traditionally gone in the opposite direction. A member of Labour’s soft left, Thomas-Symonds also served in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet until he resigned in the aftermath of the EU referendum. Policing and migration (especially since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan this summer) look likely to take increasingly high-profile places in political and media discussions; Thomas-Symonds will have to carve out an identifiable niche for Labour.
48. David Lammy
Shadow Secretary of State for Justice
The MP for Tottenham and LBC presenter David Lammy is a defining part of Labour’s London scene. He is the MP with fifth-highest following on Twitter and is a relentless campaigner for social justice. Lammy was elected in the 2000 by-election triggered by the death of Bernie Grant, continuing his predecessor’s record of anti-racist campaigning, gaining national public attention in the wake of the Grenfell fire, the Windrush scandal and recent Black Lives Matter protests. He was also an outspoken voice after the death of Sarah Everard and campaigned to raise awareness for mental health during lockdown sharing his own experiences of clinical depression. Now shadow justice minister, Lammy draws on his substantial experience as a minister in the governments of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
49. Jonathan Ashworth
Shadow Health Secretary
A Labour politician with popularity amongst an array of party factions, Jonathan Ashworth was a rare moderate in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet gaining the coveted shadow health secretary post in 2016, which he retained under Keir Starmer. Ashworth’s experience in Downing Street during the outbreak of swine flu in 2009 has inflated his value during the pandemic, criticising Johnson’s ‘Freedom Day’. Ashworth first became a Labour Party staffer in 2001 and a Treasury special adviser in 2004, working alongside Gordon Brown. Following the election of Ed Miliband as Labour leader, Ashworth took the role of head of party relations before his own election as MP in 2011.
50. Deborah Mattinson
Director of Strategy, Labour Party
Keir Starmer’s new strategist is a trusted pollster who co-founded the research and consultancy company BritianThinks. The appointment was announced in May 2021. Mattinson is the author of Why Labour Lost, How the Conservatives Won and What Will Happen Next?, a book which was music to Starmer’s ears. Last year she kept track of 50 voters’ thoughts and feelings throughout the coronavirus pandemic, publishing extracts of her findings in The Guardian. Arriving as part of Labour’s post-by-election makeover, Mattinson brings a breadth of experience, having previously advised Tony Blair, John Smith and Neil Kinnock, as well as serving as chief pollster to Gordon Brown.
51. Ian Blackford
Westminster Leader, SNP
Ian Blackford is a vital figure exerting SNP influence in Parliament. He was first elected as the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber in 2015 – a beneficiary of the SNP’s sweeping electoral success that year. He is outspoken in the Commons, recently being told off by the speaker of the House for pointing out the prime minister’s history of lying and “blatant misuse of money for political purposes”. Once an investment banker, Blackford became treasurer of the SNP in 1999, and was a well-known critic of the then-leader Alex Salmond. However, he was removed from the post in 2000 via a vote of no confidence after he tried to impose financial controls in order to tackle the party’s overdraft. Blackford has repeatedly made the case for Scottish independence, emphasising that Scotland would take a different approach to, for example, foreign policy decisions such as foreign aid budgets and the accepting of Afghan refugees.
52. Liam Booth-Smith
Special Adviser to Rishi Sunak
Liam Booth-Smith has been at the forefront of a major change in how special advisers work, establishing the joint Number 10-Number 11 economic unit. Last year, he was handpicked by the departing Dominic Cummings, and has played a key role in shaping the 2021 budget. Formerly a key figure at the Treasury, he played a part in securing £600m to help fix Grenfell Tower-style flammable cladding. Before joining government, he was director of the right-wing think tank Localis, where he focused on promoting neolocalism, which stresses giving localities more control over the effects of globalisation.
53. Steve Barclay
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Stephen Barclay was appointed chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in September 2021 as part of Boris Johnson’s major reshuffle. He is a former solicitor who later worked in finance heading up Barclays’ anti-money laundering and sanctions for the retail banking division. As an MP since 2010, Barclay has been a Johnson loyalist and has gained a reputation for competence. He became government whip in 2015 and economic secretary to the Treasury from 2017. Barclay was later a junior minister at Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). His most high profile ministerial role was as Brexit Secretary, to which he was appointed by Theresa May in 2018; the job ended at 11:59pm on 31 January 2020 when Johnson dramatically closed down his department as the UK left the EU. When Rishi Sunak became Chancellor in 2020, Barclay took his job as chief secretary to the Treasury. He has subsequently helped steer through the difficult and controversial National Insurance rise.
54. Ben Page
Chief Executive, Ipsos MORI
The prince of polling, Ben Page is the supremely well-connected chief executive of market research giant Ipsos MORI. Having worked as a magician for pocket money as a child, he once told The Guardian: “conjuring doesn’t really work with statistics, but being a magician gave me the confidence to stand up and talk to large groups of people.” Page has held board memberships at the RSA, the King’s Fund, the CBI, the Centre for London and more. He has consulted for government organisations including Downing Street, the Cabinet Office, the Department for Health and a number of local NHS trusts.
55. Tom Tugendhat
Chairman, Foreign Affairs Select Committee
An Arabic-speaking former army reservist, Tom Tugendhat has worked in the Intelligence Corps, where he was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He is an influential voice on foreign policy affairs, not only from his committee work, but also because of his hawkish approach to China of late, being co-founder of the China Research Group. Elected MP for Tonbridge and Malling in 2015, Tugendhat has expressed his opposition to vaccine passports in the Commons this year, and has slammed the decision of military chiefs to withdraw soldiers from Afghanistan as a huge strategic mistake. After August’s Taliban-takeover of Afghanistan, Tugendhat’s experience made him a compelling and credible critic to fellow MPs and the public alike. He described the Fall of Kabul as Britain’s “biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez”.
56. Matthew Rycroft
Permanent Secretary, Home Office
Matthew Rycroft has been a cog in the civil service wheel since graduation, he has previously worked at the Foreign Office and in Downing Street as a foreign policy adviser and private secretary to Tony Blair. In 2005, he became ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina for three years; later, he was permanent representative of the UK to the UN from 2015 to 2018. Rycroft led the Department for International Development (DfID) from January 2018, moving to the Home Office just before the announcement of DfID’s abolition. In June, he told a meeting of civil servants about race that there was no need to “slavishly” follow official policy; some deemed this an attempt to frustrate the government’s anti-woke agenda.
57. Theresa May
Former Prime Minister
From enforcer to rebel, Theresa May is now a politician of her principles, savaging Boris Johnson’s foreign aid cuts as “poor-killing” in a devastating speech in July 2021. She has also been a strong critic of the government’s policy in Afghanistan asking, “where is Global Britain on the streets of Kabul?” From 2010 to 2019, she was at the centre of politics as home secretary and prime minister, and a popular local MP for Maidenhead. Her tenure as prime minister was defined by Brexit suffocation, ruptures within her own party and an ultimate failure to seem relatable to the public despite her best efforts. Yet she has now become a looming figure of authority and gravitas from the backbenches.
58. Gordon Brown
Former Prime Minister
Gordon Brown was the most powerful chancellor since the post-war period and part of a double act with Tony Blair which saw the longest-ever period of Labour success under New Labour. He held the position for ten years, presiding over the longest period of sustained economic growth in British history. His subsequent three-year period as leader of the party was marked by media awkwardness and tired eyes in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. Now deemed an experienced commentator, he has been a vocal campaigner for further devolution in the British government and a persuasive voice championing the union between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
60. Brandon Lewis
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Brandon Lewis has been the MP for Great Yarmouth since 2010. He has held three roles in the Home Office: firstly as minister of state for policing and the fire service, then for immigration, and from 2019 to 2020, minister of state for the Home Office. Lewis was made minister without portfolio in the cabinet office in January 2018, when he was appointed by Theresa May as Conservative Party chairman. He was appointed secretary of state for Northern Ireland in February 2020 at a demanding time for the union – challenged with resolving the Northern Ireland Protocol. Lewis is sitting on a precarious situation; he has committed to bringing the New Decade, New Approach legislation to Westminster in October 2021 – if Stormont hasn’t done so first.
59. Stephan Shakespeare
Managing Director, YouGov
Stephan Shakespeare is the co-founder and chief executive of YouGov, the UK’s best-known and influential polling company. Born Stephan Kukowski in West Germany (later taking his wife’s name), Shakespeare collaborated with the now-education secretary Nadim Zahawi to set up YouGov in 2000. The company now has annual earnings close to £20 million. It has proved especially successful in recent years with inventive early adoption of multilevel regression post-stratification (MRP) modelling in 2016, notably predicting shock results in the US presidential election and the 2017 UK general election, correctly predicting results in 93 per cent of constituencies. The 2019 general election saw rival pollsters utilise MRP, with Survation coming closest to the ultimate result. Shakespeare continues to contribute frequently to national media outlets including The Times, CityAM and ConservativeHome.
61. Christina McAnea
General Secretary, Unison
Christina McAnea is the first female General Secretary of Unison, the largest trade union in the United Kingdom, with over 1.4 million members. The Glaswegian-born campaigner took up the post at the start of this year, winning 47.7 per cent of the members vote in what was seen as a victory for Labour leader Keir Starmer, after she defeated candidates from the left of the party. Despite this, McAnea “avoids factionalism” and “embraces pragmatism” – preferring not to affiliate herself with specific party figures. Concentrated on rights and workers’ pay, she has specifically focused on the pay freeze for public sector workers announced in December 2020. McAnea’s strengths, are to play up the economic argument for wage increases – that those who receive them will thus spend more and stimulate the economy. She has been consistent in advocating for all workers and appears to be a diplomatic negotiator – but whether this strategy will work remains to be seen.
64. Yvette Cooper
Chair, Home Affairs Select Committee
First elected to parliament in 1997, Yvette Cooper held numerous junior ministerial positions in health and housing and planning, before becoming the first woman to serve as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2008. During this time, Cooper worked on child poverty, leading the Welfare Reform Act 2009 (criticised by many campaigners for its use of benefits sanctions in forcing unemployed people to seek work). In 2015, she ran to succeed Ed Miliband as Labour leader, receiving the backing of Gordon Brown but coming third behind Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Burnham. As chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Cooper has been an effective and vocal critic of the government’s management of asylum seekers, policy on domestic abuse and Priti Patel’s new Police Bill.
62. Andy Street
Mayor of the West Midlands
Andy Street has been mayor of the West Midlands since 2017, becoming the first Conservative metropolitan mayor outside London. The HS2 advocate previously worked at John Lewis where he was voted one of the “most admirable” business leaders, overseeing a 50 per cent increase in gross sales to over £4.4 billion. An outspoken critic of continually rising business rates, Street has gone on record as saying “property is the way retailers have made money historically and we need a system that is a reflection of the future”. Street multiplied his winning margin by an impressive ten times at the 2021 election, credited in part to Street’s bipartisan message and collaborative approach. He has supported the city’s bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth games and called for increased transport funding to the Midlands.
63. Caroline Lucas
Green Party MP
Caroline Lucas is the first – and only – Green Party member of parliament elected to Westminster, representing Brighton Pavilion since 2010. She was also Green Party leader between 2008 and 2012 and later co-leader from 2016 to 2018. Lucas currently sits on the highly influential Environmental Audit Committee in Parliament, which is responsible for examining how governmental policies will impact sustainable development and the environment. Lucas was National Press Officer, followed by co-chair, of the Green Party in the 1980s. She first stood for elected office in 1993 for Oxfordshire County Council, winning the Greens’ second-ever council seat. She represented South East England in the European Parliament from 1999 to 2010.
65. Polly Mackenzie
Polly Mackenzie has served as head of one of Westminster’s most influential centrist think tanks since 2018. Before joining Demos, Mackenzie was a journalist and served as a senior policy adviser for the Liberal Democrats. She was Nick Clegg’s speechwriter from 2007 to 2009, going on to serve as his special adviser from 2010 to 2015 while deputy prime mnister. After a stint at the Women’s Equality Party, Mackenzie rejoined the frontline Westminster furore in her current role. She has argued recently for greater transparency in online political advertising.
66. Ed Miliband
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
Ed Miliband entered parliament as the member for Doncaster North in 2005 and became Tony Blair’s minister for the third sector one year later. As leader of the opposition from 2010 to 2015, Miliband put forward a left-leaning agenda that set his cabinet apart from those of New Labour. However, his failure to win prompted his resignation. Since then, he has built on his “Milifandom”, co-presenting the popular Reasons to be Cheerful podcast with Geoff Lloyd, among others. As shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy with a focus on environment, Miliband has opined that it is “climate delay” rather than “climate denial” that is the most pressing obstacle to building a sustainable future.
67. Lisa Nandy
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Lisa Nandy was elected as the MP for Wigan in 2010. Following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, was appointed as shadow energy and climate change secretary. She resigned from the shadow cabinet in June 2016 in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and backed Owen Smith in his unsuccessful bid to replace him. Nandy came second in the Labour Party leadership election in April 2020. Following her defeat, Keir Starmer appointed Nandy to the post of shadow foreign secretary. In March 2021, Nandy stated that her priorities would include national security, Russian aggression and climate change. In August 2021, Nandy strongly criticised the government’s response to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. On a national level, she has been a voice for the North slamming the government’s levelling up agenda as being both tokenistic and unsubstantial.
68. Oliver Dowden
Conservative Party Chairman
Oliver Dowden was David Cameron’s deputy chief of staff for five years before he was selected to fight the safe seat of Hertsmere in 2015. In January 2018, he was promoted to parliamentary secretary to the Cabinet Office as part of Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle. After backing Boris Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest, he was appointed minister for the Cabinet Office and paymaster general. In February 2020, he was appointed secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport where his handling of the culture sector during the pandemic has been heavily criticised. The £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund was “too late” for many in the sector. In September 2021, Boris Johnson appointed Dowden as Conservative co-party chairman and minister without portfolio in the Cabinet Office – likely due to his reputation in Downing Street as a safe pair of hands. His voting pattern on social issues put him down as a social conservative.
69. Alok Sharma
Alok Sharma is the Conservative member of parliament for Reading West and current president of the Cop26 climate summit due to take place in Glasgow in November 2021. Cop26 is the United Nations’ 26th annual conference on dealing with climate change. Sharma gave up his role as business secretary in Boris Johnson’s government in January 2021 to head up the organisation of Cop26. As the conference’s president, Sharma’s profile will grow as the summit edges nearer. It is under his management that the conference will look to lay the groundwork in the ongoing battle against human-provoked climate change. During his time as the president of Cop26, Sharma has cumulatively travelled over 200,000 air miles while conducting government business. This has drawn criticism from environmentalists concerned about the polluting impact of air travel. Sharma is also the chair of the Climate Action Implementation Committee.
70. Nigel Farage
Former Leader, Brexit Party
Despite never holding frontline political office, Nigel Farage has been one of the most influential and divisive disruptors of UK politics. The three-time UKIP leader and Brexit Party head is the country’s best-known eurosceptic, leading UKIP to first place in the 2013 local elections, third place (by votes won) in the 2015 general election, and UKIP’s first-ever parliamentary representation. His crowning achievement was the Leave vote in 2016. He won the 2019 EU elections with his Brexit Party and is an outspoken critic of the government’s policy towards trade and immigration. In January, after the UK officially left the EU, the party renamed itself Reform UK and transitioned to a platform of opposing lockdowns during the pandemic. Farage has also been a key presenter on GB News.
71. Adam Price
Leader, Plaid Cymru
A passionate advocate for Welsh independence, Adam Price became leader of Plaid Cymru in 2018. His election was predicated on his hard approach to the issue. In 2010, after nine years in parliament, Price made the decision to stand down from his role as MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr to pursue a Master’s in Public Administration at Harvard. Now sitting as the MA for the same region as his former Westminster constituency, Price was elected in a new crop of Welsh politicians at the 2016 election. He is the UK’s first openly gay male party leader.
72. Torsten Bell
Director, Resolution Foundation
Chief executive of the Resolution Foundation since 2015, Torsten Bell
is one of Westminster’s most influential policy wonks. A former head of policy at the Labour Party during Ed Miliband’s leadership, Bell became known as the party’s “brain” – although he was also responsible for the notorious “Ed Stone” election stunt. Four months after the 2015 general election, Bell moved to the top job at the moderate think tank previously led by David Willetts. The Resolution Foundation determines the living wage (alongside the Living Wage Foundation), and has current research focusing on Covid-19 and the labour market. Reportedly, Bell has political ambitions beyond the think tank district.
73. Sunder Katwala
Director, British Future
An influential left-wing commentator and former general secretary of the Fabian Society, Sunder Katwala has been director of equality and integration think tank British Future since 2012. Katwala led the Fabian Society from 2003 to 2011 and was previously a leader writer and section editor at The Observer, a researcher at the Foreign Policy Centre and commissioning editor at Macmillan. An articulate and coherent analyst of the UK left in particular, Katwala has denied political ambitions of his own. But his ideological closeness to Keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour party makes Katwala a key political influencer.
74. Simone Finn
Baroness Finn, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister
The Swansea-born businesswoman Simone Finn has supported Dan Rosenfield as Downing Street’s deputy chief of staff since February 2021. She has been a member of the House of Lords since 2015, as well as a former government adviser on industrial relations, efficiency and civil service reform. Finn was also a board member at the Cabinet, where she donated her salary to charity. Before joining Downing Street, she co-founded Francis Maude Associates, a consultancy firm specialising on the implementation of fiscal, economic and public sector reform. Finn was the principal advisor to her co-founder, Francis Maude, when he was the UK minister for the Cabinet Office from 2010 to 2015. Finn sits on the Conservative benches of the House of Lords, is passionate about educational reform and social mobility, and is a board member of Maggie’s Centres and Clean Break Theatre Company and a trustee at Demos.
75. Ruth Davidson
Former Leader, Scottish Conservative Party
Formerly leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson now leads the party solely in Holyrood. She has been MSP for Edinburgh Central since 2016 and was widely credited for the success of the ‘Better Together’ campaign, which preserved the union in 2014. Since then, Davidson has solidified her reputation as the most effective Conservative campaigner north of the border and was once touted for leadership of the national party. However, her relationship with Boris Johnson has been rocky and she resigned the leadership in Scotland shortly after he became prime minister. Davidson was sworn into the Lords as a life peer in July of this year.
76. Sheridan Westlake
Senior Special Adviser to the Prime Minister
Sheridan Westlake is the only person – minister or SpAd – to have survived the entire length of the Conservatives’ period of office since 2010, serving continuously under Cameron, May and now Johnson. In 2010, Westlake entered government at Eric Pickles’ side, using his low-key, unfailingly polite yet persistent style to cast terror into the hearts of civil service, inevitably knowing the policy better than they did. Westlake once had a disagreement with his department over a single line of policy which lasted a full year. At his leaving do, destined for a SpAd role in Cameron’s Number 10, his boss Eric Pickles memorably told the room: “it has been a pleasure working for Sheridan Westlake.” Westlake is the first port of call for any SpAd on the up, on the down, coming in of government or going out. He was identified as a recipient of David Cameron’s Greensill text appeals. Westlake is considered a leading voice on productivity, investment and urban success.
77. Stephanie Driver
Director of Communications to the Leader of the Labour Party
As one of the key changes in Labour’s post-by-election shakeup, Stephanie Driver replaced Ben Nunn as Keir Starmer’s new head of communications in June 2021. She was part of the notorious ‘Labour leaks’ which revealed a secret plan to divert funds, intended for the campaign to win the 2017 general election, into a secret pot to fund the protection of right-wing Labour MPs. Driver has also worked for Ed Balls, as Labour’s South West regional press officer, for the Fabian Society, and as head of events in Jeremy Corbyn’s leader’s office.
78. Henry Newman
Special Adviser, Number 10 Downing Street
A former long-serving adviser to Michael Gove, Henry Newman became senior special adviser at Number 10 in February 2020. Newman subscribes to the former Number 10 strategist’s view of politics as a continuous campaign. He became a notable Brexit spokesperson as director of eurosceptic think tank Open Europe, appearing on Sky News and Politics Live seemingly more than the programme hosts. Newman also worked for the Vote Leave campaign, and is currently in his third post as a Whitehall adviser, having first worked for Francis Maude in the Cabinet Office alongside Baroness Finn during the coalition government. Newman was also a key member of Gove’s leadership campaign in 2016, in which he withdrew support for Boris Johnson at the last minute. Crucially, Newman is an ally of Carrie Symonds. The pair worked closely together during her time as a special adviser and the Conservatives’ director of communications, and have remained close personally and politically. Dominic Cummings alleged that Newman was the “chatty rat” who leaked information about a second lockdown to the press.
79. Bronwen Maddox
Director, Institute for Government
As the leader of Westminster’s pre-eminent authority on the UK constitution and how politics really works, Bronwen Maddox has held the uniquely respected post of director of the Institute for Government since 2016. An investment analyst before embarking on a long and fruitful career in journalism, Maddox is a former investigative journalist for the Financial Times, a foreign editor of The Times and chief executive of Prospect magazine. Maddox regularly features on national radio and television as an IFG spokesperson. She has a fierce intelligence, impartiality and an impressive knowledge of the halls of power. In 2021, Maddox argued in the Financial Times that the “UK’s famed flexibility of constitutional arrangements has had its day” and it’s time for parliamentary, governmental and electoral rules to be written down.
80. Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport
In September 2021, Nadine Dorries was promoted to the post of secretary of state for digital, culture, media & sport. The MP for Mid Bedfordshire since 2005, she only gained a ministerial position 15 years later when Boris Johnson appointed her as parliamentary under-secretary of state for mental health, suicide prevention and patient safety. Her delayed yet rapid ascent is a result of her long-term loyalty to Johnson and, perhaps, her ‘anti-woke’ credentials. Dorries grew up in a financially-troubled household and trained as a nurse. Big decisions ahead for Dorries include setting the level of the BBC licence fee, the decision over whether to privatise Channel 4 and picking a new head of the broadcast watchdog Ofcom. In 2012, Dorries took part in the British reality TV programme I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here – a decision which caused her suspension from the Conservative Party, as she had not informed the chief whip of her participation in the programme.
81. Dougie Smith
Special Adviser, Number 10 Downing Street
He is notoriously averse to publicity yet Dougie Smith has been described as “the most powerful figure in today’s Conservative Party when it comes to drawing up lists of parliamentary candidates and, increasingly, vetting public appointments”. A mysterious figure whose age and alma mater have been the subject of news articles, Smith was a speech-writer under David Cameron and party activist and is now a much more powerful figure under Boris Johnson. He has been cited as one of the two most influential people driving the 2019 Conservative election success – the other being Isaac Levido, who has since left Downing Street. Smith is married to Munira Mirza, who is head of Downing Street’s Policy Unit.
82. Jess Phillips
Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence & Safeguarding
Jess Phillips was first elected as the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley in 2015. She immediately joined the Women and Equalities Committee and the Backbench Business Committee. She has been outspoken since joining parliament, campaigning on women’s issues such as the removal of VAT on sanitary products and UK abortion laws. Phillips stood for the Labour leadership in 2019, saying that Labour needed to focus on winning back support in their working-class base; she secured 23 nominations from her Labour colleagues. In 2021, Phillips was an influential voice in the aftermath of Sarah Everard’s murder; she has long campaigned against violence towards women, and this year her annual speech in which she reads out each murdered victim’s name was given elevated media attention.
83. Jacob Rees-Mogg
Leader of the House of Commons
The MP for North East Somerset, Jacob Rees-Mogg has been the leader of the House of Commons since July 2019. Rees-Mogg pursued a successful career in banking before becoming an MP in 2010; he has since become known for his “18th century” tendencies, including reciting poetry and advocating Latin. He is the former head of the eurosceptic European Research Group and led the charge to force a vote of no confidence in Theresa May’s leadership of the Conservative Party, which eventually was defeated in December 2018. The day after his election as prime minister, Boris Johnson appointed Rees-Mogg as Leader of the House of Commons; he later also became Lord president of the council. As leader during the pandemic, Rees-Mogg has been opposed to virtual voting, causing him to end the set-up prematurely – only for the government to recalibrate the rules to protect shielding MPs.
84. Baroness Lawrence
Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in a racist attack in 1993, is a Labour life peer in the Lords. Described as “the mother who changed the nation”, Lawrence spent years campaigning for justice, claiming the Metropolitan Police investigation was incompetent and racist. This sparked the MacPherson report which concluded the Metropolitan Police was “institutionally racist”. Lawrence founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust in 1999 to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Lawrence has sat on panels discussing issues such as Stop and Search, and has recently spoken out against the Windrush Scandal.
85. Lord McFall
Scotsman John McFall is a peer and current senior deputy speaker of the House of Lords. A former maths and chemistry teacher, he was made a life peer in 2010 after serving as a Labour MP for 23 years. McFall was chair of the Treasury Select Committee during the 2008 financial crisis. McFall currently serves as the vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Overseas Development. Appointed as Lord speaker in April 2021 to replace Lord Fowler, who had gently pushed the boundaries of the Lord speakership, McFall has been described as “no fool” but “not a radical” either; he looks set to be a cautious and steady speaker.
86. Baroness Evans
Leader of the House of Lords
Leader of the House of Lords, Natalie Evans, became a life peer in 2014 when she was just 38 – making her the youngest female peer at the time. Early in her career, Evans worked in the Conservative Research Department, where she met her husband, James Wild, now MP for North West Norfolk. Evans also worked at the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange for three years, and was COO and later director of the New Schools Network. Evans served as a government whip in the House of Lords from 2015 to 2016. She was appointed by Theresa May as leader of the Lords and Lords Privy Seal in 2016. Boris Johnson has kept her on.
87. Paul Givan
First Minister of Northern Ireland
Paul Givan was appointed first minister of Northern Ireland by his colleague Edwin Poots during the latter’s brief stint as DUP leader in June 2021. However, Poots was forced to resign within weeks following an internal party revolt over his decision to proceed with the appointment of Givan as first minister. Like his friend Poots, Givan is seen as being on the right wing of the DUP. He is a creationist. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is Poots’s replacement and told Givan that he will only remain in post until later this year. Donaldson, an MP, has also said he intends to return to Stormont and in August declared that he would be contesting Givan in his Lagan Valley constituency. Much of Givan’s tenure has been spent on the reduction of covid restrictions in Northern Ireland.
88. Baroness Smith of Basildon
Leader of the Opposition, House of Lords
The former Basildon MP Angela Smith is currently the shadow leader of the House of Lords, the shadow spokesperson on Northern Ireland issues and a shadow Cabinet Office spokesperson. Smith became an MP in 1997, was appointed government whip in 2001, and served as parliamentary private secretary to Gordon Brown from 2007. After 13 years in the Commons, Baroness Smith was made a life peer in 2010, quickly taking up a spokesperson role for her party in the Lords. She is the most senior Labour figure in the House of Lords. In 2021, Smith said that reform to outlaw the “embarrassment” of by-elections for hereditary peers would have cross-party support, but claimed that government ministers routinely block it.
89. David Evans
General Secretary, Labour Party
When David Evans was elected Labour’s general secretary in May 2020, Keir Starmer heralded the party’s newfound opportunity to “restore trust” among voters. The moderate, highly-organised top Labour official, who replaced key Corbyn ally Jennie Formby, was a councillor in Croydon during the 1980s and first joined the Labour Party as a general assistant in 1995. Evans is an old-fashioned political operator with no social media presence. His challenge is uniting a divided party. To be elected, Evans defeated the unions-backed Byron Taylor, representing key institutional support for Starmer, whose team hopes that Evans’ “reassuring” and “collaborative” approach will reverberate throughout the party.
90. Robert Colvile
Director, Centre for Policy Studies
One of Westminster’s most respected and influential conservative analysts and commentators, Robert Colvile is director of the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) and editor-in-chief of CapX, as well as a columnist for The Sunday Times. In December 2019 he took a leave of absence to work as one of the authors of the Conservative Party’s election manifesto, which also contained a range of policies advocated by the CPS. Colvile, however, has expressed increasing discomfort with the Johnson government, citing their overspending and “strong streak of nannying and intervention.” The CPS is one of the most influential think tanks, with connections to prominent Conservative politicians and touted as the potential originators of the phrase “levelling up”. He has previously worked at the Sunday Telegraph as assistant editor and written for publications such as the Financial Times amongst others. Colvile was news director at BuzzFeed UK, as well as an editor, columnist and leader writer with the Daily Telegraph.
91. Douglas Ross
Leader, Scottish Conservatives
Douglas Ross is the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, and MP for Moray since 2017. In May 2020, Ross resigned from his post as a junior Scotland office minister following the Dominic Cummings lockdown controversy but won the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives just three months later. Also sitting on the committees for Scottish Affairs and Procedure, Ross continues to balance his political commitments with being a professional football referee. Having previously missed parliamentary debates for matches, he received heavy criticism in November 2020 for using his official Westminster email account to take referee bookings. In recent months, Ross has written two letters to Boris Johnson urging his colleague to increase the number of seasonal agricultural workers to be allowed into the UK in 2021. That July, he positioned himelf and party as the opposite to Nicola Sturgeon.
92. Anas Sarwar
Leader, Scottish Labour Party
The Scottish Labour leader since 2021, Anas Sarwar has hoped to cut through to the Scottish public in a way his predecessors in the post have failed to do. The MP for Glasgow Central from 2010 to 2015, Sarwar lost his seat to the SNP during the party’s 2015 wave and entered the Scottish Parliament a year later. He was deputy leader of Scottish Labour for three years while an MP, finally gaining the top job in February 2021, succeeding Richard Leonard. The party had a disappointing but unsurprising performance at the May Scottish parliament elections, losing two seats. Sarwar is said to be on the moderate wing of the Labour party and has called Gordon Brown one of his political heroes; Sarwar is a socialist yet also pro-business. Constitutional politics is not what motivates him, but equally Sarwar won’t hesitate to move in different directions from Westminster’s Labour if he feels it would benefit Scotland.
93. Anand Menon
Director, UK In A Changing Europe
Few academics have seen their prospects improve as a result of the UK’s vote to leave the EU in June 2016, but Anand Menon is surely one of them. The popular and affable director of the Kings College London policy think tank UK in a Changing Europe, Menon leads a renowned and influential team of researchers whose sole focus is the relationship between the UK and the EU. The New European has described him as “the go-to commentator and multimedia performer”. The UK in a Changing Europe has produced initiatives such as the Brexit Witness Archive, a collection of interviews with civil servants and ministers on the period leading up to the referendum and its aftermath. Now perhaps the UK’s best known political scientist, Menon began his career at Oxford before moving to the University of Birmingham and, finally, Kings College London in 2013. The enviable respect Menon commands across the political spectrum has seen him advise the House of Lords’ EU committee.
94. Naomi Long
Leader, Alliance Party
Naomi Long is leader of the Alliance Party and justice minister within the reformed Northern Ireland Executive, and has served as an elected politician in Belfast for over 20 years. An engineer and environmental consultant in earlier life, Long was elected leader of the centrist Alliance Party in 2016. She has been an active minister of justice since taking the role in January 2020, progressing new domestic abuse legislation that has stalled in recent months amid financial concerns over legal aid. Long claimed her position on the executive board could become untenable after the DUP effectively vetoed the extension of coronavirus restrictions in November. In recent months, she has pushed for the UK government to follow through with the Northern Ireland Protocol, calling for an end to the unhelpful “sausage war” in favour of pursuing the only viable way forwards.
95. Vaughan Gething
Minister for the Economy, Senydd
Born in Zambia, Vaughan Gething joined the Labour party aged 17 and later practised employment law. He was a councillor in Cardiff from 2004 to 2008, when he became the youngest ever president of Wales TUC, and the first black man in the role. In 2013, Gething became deputy minister for tackling poverty and, in 2016, was promoted to cabinet secretary for health, wellbeing and sport. In 2017, he was appointed cabinet secretary for health and social services. Gething is a member of Unison, Unite and GMB. In 2020, he faced calls to resign after failing to turn his microphone off whilst speaking rudely of a fellow Labour MP. Gething has nonetheless continued his rise within Welsh Labour, gaining the additional title of economy minister in May 2021.
96. Dame Margaret Beckett
Chair, National Executive Committee of the Labour Party
A Labour stalwart, Dame Margaret Beckett has been the Labour MP for Derby South since 1983. By 1992, she was shadow leader of the Commons and deputy leader of her party. Beckett became acting Labour leader following the untimely death of John Smith. She finished third in the subsequent leadership contest behind Tony Blair and John Prescott. During Blair’s premiership, Beckett served as president of the Board of Trade, leader of the Commons, environment secretary, and finally foreign secretary from 2006 to 2007. She is the first and only woman to serve in the role. Beckett was president of the NO to AV campaign. She nominated Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership in 2015, but later described herself as a “moron” for nominating him.. When Beckett was appointed to her current role as chair of Labour’s NEC in late 2020, several left-leaning members staged a digital walk out. In recent months, Beckett has continued to support Starmer.
97. Kate Forbes
Finance Secretary, Scottish Government
Kate Forbes is the SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch and the cabinet secretary for finance and the economy within the Scottish government. Forbes was first elected to the Scottish parliament in 2016 at the age of just 26 following a brief career as a chartered accountant for Barclays. She became the first woman to deliver the Scottish budget to parliament in February 2020, upon the sudden resignation of her predecessor, Derek Mackay, the day before. Tipped as a future party leader, Forbes strongly opposes a potential return to austerity following the coronavirus, having recently announced an additional £185m package to support businesses in 2021. A key ally of the first minister’s, Forbes gained additional responsibilities in adding the “economy” brief to her job title in May 2021. Forbes is a rising star in the SNP and there is already talk of her as Nicola Sturgeon’s successor down the line.
98. Rosena Allin-Khan
Shadow Secretary of State for Mental Health
Accident and emergency doctor Rosena Allin-Khan has been a powerful voice in support of the Covid-19 vaccine. She entered the Commons in 2016, replacing Sadiq Khan as Labour MP for Tooting when he became Mayor of London. Since then, she has served as shadow minister for sports under Jeremy Corbyn from 2016 (reflecting her hobby of boxing) and came second in the 2019 deputy leadership campaign. Given her status as a practising doctor, Allin-Khan has emerged as a fluent and credible voice on NHS interests. She has served as shadow minister for mental health under Keir Starmer since 2020.
99. Anneliese Dodds
Chair, Labour Party
Anneliese Dodds served as shadow chancellor of the exchequer until May 2021, when she was subject to a reshuffle following disappointing local election results for Labour. Previously a regular interviewee on television, Keir Starmer clearly felt that Dodds had failed to make a significant impact on the political discussion. It’s certainly true that she was at the heart of Labour’s struggle to differentiate its fiscal aims from that of the Conservatives. Dodds is now chair of the Labour Party, where she has been working on a comprehensive policy review involving examination of “decades’ worth” of previous policy reviews to determine which communication methods have been most successful in order to provide a “starting point” for a fresh agenda. Dodds will be recommending the party focus on “tangible goals” and to take inspiration from the pandemic-fostered “community spirit” which have, she believes, been an antidote to the Brexit and culture-war debates.
100. Richard Tice
Richard Tice is the leader of Reform UK (formerly the Brexit Party), a position he took up just before May’s local elections.
He replaced Nigel Farage, to whom he has struck a different chord; Tice is quieter yet apparently “takes no fools”.
A near-lifelong Conservative, Tice is a multimillionaire businessman who worked in property for over 30 years.
He was also one of the founders of the Leave Means Leave campaign. Later, he became Nigel Farage’s wingman in the Brexit Party. Tice has said that Reform UK will continue to rattle the establishment’s cage under his leadership, freeing people from “woke nonsense” as the country emerges from lockdown. In an effort to gain disgruntled Conservative voters as Labour has marginally improved poll ratings, Tice already started setting up online platforms “with a really polished feel”.