Tara's top Tories

An intriguing new crop is emerging, writes Tara Hamilton-Miller, as she predicts the faces of 2008

Kit Malthouse: During his time as deputy leader of Westminster City Council, Malthouse brought Shirley Porter to book. He also took on the mobile-phone companies over prostitutes' cards in phone boxes. When they refused to co-operate, he mocked up and distributed 5,000 particularly fruity cards with the names and numbers of their chief execs. Within hours, the council had what it wanted. Malthouse's bold views on Heathrow and the homeless, recently published, have impressed many - including a certain mop-haired mayoral candidate.

Kulveer Ranger: An impossibly elegant 32-year-old, Ranger was appointed vice-chairman of the Conservative Party in August. A turban-wearing, practising Sikh, he does not look like your conventional young Tory. Ranger's blunt views and his lack of geek career politician attitude have impressed many in the shadow cabinet, ensuring that he will play a major role in 2008. Of the Tories' current image he says: "The shackles that the Labour Party worked very effectively on us are starting to loosen; the stereotypes they used to portray us no longer exist in the Conservative Party I know." Ranger is an ex-DJ, apparently a rite of passage for Tory boys these days.

Penny Mordaunt: As parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth North, Mordaunt proved her worth in 2007 when Boris Johnson suggested her adopted city was synonymous with drugs, obesity and underachievement. Mordaunt was in the middle of a birthday lunch with chums when she began receiving calls asking for a comment. In a clever move, she responded to taunts from Labour and the Liberal Democrats by setting up a mentoring scheme for schoolchildren, citing Boris's dig as the catalyst. She is making waves in the health world as director of strategy for Diabetes UK. Apparently proud of her work for George Bush's team in 2004, Mordaunt is expected to be invol ved again with the Republicans in 2008.

Nicholas Timothy: A Birmingham boy, Timothy returns to party headquarters as deputy research director this year, having covered various briefs there before. He has the commendable gift of being able to tell filthy jokes while still looking like a boy treble from St Paul's School choir.

Nadine Dorries: Though best known for her cult blog, Dorries, one of Westminster's hardest-working MPs, is cutting down on posting her thoughts in 2008 to focus on various bills close to her heart. Highlight for some in 2007 was her showdown in the Members' Tearoom with the employment minister, Caroline Flint. A witness claims Flint fled "like a bad-cat loser" before any Elnett duel kicked off. This one is never dull.

Nick Herbert: His may not be the most recognisable of faces, but Herbert is regarded as having performed better this year than any other Conservative MP (apart from Michael Gove). The only negative comment made about him was a vague recollection of a baseball jacket he wore at a Reform event in 2002. Herbert's work on prison reform as shadow justice secretary was well received, and he is known increasingly to have David Cameron's ear. Expect to see a lot more of him in 2008.

Sayeeda Warsi: Teddygate brought Baron ess Warsi to the public's attention early last month when she secured the release of Gillian Gibbons, the British primary school teacher jailed in Khartoum for letting her pupils call a teddy bear Muhammad. The only concern is that, as a result, her career may have peaked too early. Warsi will doubtless be on the lookout for more people to rescue in 2008, but not necessarily soft-toy-related.

This article first appeared in the 07 January 2008 issue of the New Statesman, Pakistan plot