- Kemi Badenoch – If you believe in the British Dream – actually, whether you do or not – watch her speech to the Conservative conference this week.
- Fiona Bruce – One of the few Tory MPs who is prepared to think, speak and write about a crucial policy area that the Government is frightened to address: families policy.
- Stephen Crabb – The former Cabinet Minister’s passion for and interest in international development is burning as bright as ever on the backbenches.
- Mark Francois – His report on raising army numbers, commissioned by the Prime Minister, is required reading.
- George Freeman – Hats off to him for having the vision and drive to get a grassroots conference on Tory ideas together.
- Charlie Elphicke – In the vanguard of pressing for Britain to be Ready on Day One for Brexit, deal or no deal (not least on this site).
- Justine Greening – You may not like her ideas on equalities and transgender issues, but she is one of the few Cabinet Ministers who is pushing boundaries and making waves.
- Robert Halfon – The former Deputy Chairman of the Party is emerging as an important voice for its reform.
- Neil O’Brien – The former director of Policy Exchange, now Market Harborough’s MP, is reportedly in discussion with Nick Timothy and others about Conservative reform.
- Philip Lee – The Justice Minister has not been afraid to break from the pack and think aloud about the Party’s problem with younger voters.
- Nicky Morgan – Her book on character education has recently been published, and the Treasury Select Committee Chairman is an important voice on the Party’s centre-left.
- Eric Pickles – His 126-recommendation-heavy Party Review didn’t rock CCHQ’s boat, but it gave it lots of nudges in the right direction.
- Jacob Rees-Mogg – His coolness under fire at Party Conference was further evidence, were any needed, of his mix of steely principle, originality and quick-wittedness.
- Tom Tugendhat – Can do joined-up-thinking on foreign affairs, defence and security, which is why he now chairs the Foreign Affairs Select Committee after scarcely two years in Parliament.
- Nadhim Zahawi – Turning out a mass of well-briefed articles for this site on foreign affairs and domesttic reform.
As Mark Wallace pointed out yesterday on this site, this week’s Conservative Conference was as alive on the fringes as it was dead in the hall.
It isn’t only Tory MPs who are looking ahead – far from it – but the lack of a Conservative majority is emboldening some to come forward, and begin to shape the Tory future.
Our list above is naturally biased towards thinkers and contributors to this site, but there are many more Ministers and backbenchers who, through their writing or campaigning, are doing invaluable work.
We might also have named: Victoria Atkins, Ben Bradley, Alex Burghart, James Cartlidge, Nus Ghani, Sam Gyimah, Paul Masterton, Johnny Mercer, Jesse Norman, Rebecca Pow, Rory Stewart and Rishi Sunak. And many others.
For better or worse, our sense is that, severe though the Government’s problems are, the Party is not intellectually exhausted, as it undoubtedly was by 1997. That’s a cheering thought at the end of a depressing week.