Jeremy Heywood, permanent Secretary, No 10 Downing St

Former prime minister Tony Blair called Jeremy Heywood “indispensable” and Conservative chancellor Norman Lamont thought him one of the most intelligent people he had ever met. Mr Heywood probably needs all the praise he can get in his current role as permanent secretary to a prime minister who has been behind in the polls for over a year and whose No 10 team has chopped and changed in a manner that would do credit to an NHS structural reorganisation.

Having spent 20 years as a civil servant, Mr Heywood previously had a spell with Morgan Stanley as managing director and co-head of investment banking. In the current financial turmoil, his contacts and insight from this period will prove invaluable.

He returned to the civil service in prime minister Gordon Brown’s inaugural Cabinet Office appointments.