MPs' Class of 2010: End of term report

By Gavin Stamp
Political reporter, BBC News

Image caption,
New faces: Louise Mensch (Con), Chuka Umunna (Lab), Caroline Lucas (Green) and Julian Huppert (Lib Dem)

More than 225 MPs were elected to the Commons for the first time last year - one of the largest new intakes in recent years.

Judging how they have performed is not an exact science - but we have taken a look at some key yardsticks to see who out of the "class of 2010" has made the most impact during their first year in Parliament.


Image caption,
Tory MPs Andrew Percy, Claire Perry and Rory Stewart are among the new intake

Nearly 150 Tory "newbies" entered the Commons and they have all been vying with each other to get themselves noticed.

One immediate indicator was which MPs were appointed parliamentary private secretaries to Cabinet ministers - unpaid roles but unofficially seen as the first rung of the government ladder.

Among those to get plum roles included Nicky Morgan and Angie Bray.

With visibility all important, another guide is who is seen most often on our TV screens.

Matthew Hancock and Claire Perry, both former advisers to Chancellor George Osborne, have been among those most likely to pop up to defend government policies.

Another sign of the respect in which MPs are held and how much they can be trusted is how often they appear on Question Time, the UK's leading political discussion show.

For new MPs, this is a rare honour. In the past year, only former diplomat Rory Stewart, novelist Louise Mensch (formerly Bagshawe) and Anna Soubry on the Tory side have been given it.

Another way to get stuck in and to create an impression is through the select committee system.

Those able to get onto the most heavyweight committees - such as the Treasury, Home Affairs and Public Accounts - are worth taking particular notice of.

Once new MPs got their maiden speeches out of the way, it was down to the hard grind of holding ministers to account and speaking up for their constituents' interests.

According to political website, Robert Halfon leads the way in terms of the number of debates spoken in. Others near the top of the list include Andrew Bridgen, Rehman Chishti and Charlie Elphicke.

Zac Goldsmith has had most written questions answered by ministers, followed by Graham Evans and Mike Weatherley. Jane Ellison is the sole new Tory MP to sit on the new backbench committee.

Another way to get yourself noticed, although not necessarily a route to career advancement, is to defy your party whip. Jason McCartney, Mark Reckless and Andrew Percy all did so by voting against the rise in student tuition fees while David Nuttall has rebelled on multiple occasions over Europe and other issues.

Another key skill for an ambitious young politician is the ability to get your name in the media.

Dominic Raab displayed a talent for grabbing headlines when he said some feminists were "now amongst the most obnoxious bigots".

Then there is the more traditional route of establishing a reputation as a Commons orator.

Jacob Rees-Mogg (son of former Times editor Lord Rees-Mogg) has gained a following among some of his colleagues for his scholarly and elegant speeches.

Nadhim Zahawi, former chief executive of pollsters YouGov, also grabbed attention with a Commons performance - from his musical tie, which went off by accident as he was making a speech, earning him a ticking off from the Deputy Speaker.

So what next for ambitious Tory MPs?

While it is maybe a little too early to be talking of them becoming ministers, the prospect may not be far off for some. After all, David Cameron became leader just four years after becoming an MP.


Image caption,
Labour MPs Rachel Reeves, Chuka Umunna and Yasmin Qureshi have made a mark

High-flyers among Labour's 60 or so newcomers are, perhaps, easier to pick out than their opponents since a wave of departures and a new leader created a lot of openings on the frontbench.

Those fastracked onto Ed Miliband's team include Rushanara Ali (international development), Shabana Mahmood (home affairs), Toby Perkins (education), Chuka Umunna and Chi Onwurah (business and universities), Michael Dugher and Gemma Doyle (defence) John Woodcock (transport) and Jack Dromey (local government).

Mr Umunna, a former employment lawyer who has already been talked of as a potential future leader, also sits on the powerful Treasury select committee while Mr Dugher, a former adviser to Gordon Brown, is Mr Miliband's PPS.

Strong media performers often come to the fore in opposition and, as well as Mr Umunna, others passing the "Question Time test" so far have been Rachel Reeves, a former Bank of England economist, and Gloria De Piero, a former television presenter - the last two of whom also hold frontbench jobs.

Proving yourself a diligent constituency MP in the Commons is also seen as essential for getting on.

According to TheyWorkForYou, Luciana Berger has spoken in the most debates while Lisa Nandy has had the most written questions answered by ministers.

Rebellions were always like to be thin on the ground in the first year of a new leader although a host of MPs - including historian Tristram Hunt and shadow Scottish Office minister Tom Greatrex - felt free to take issue with the leadership by rejecting the Alternative Vote.

However, Yasmin Qureshi stood alone in being the only new MP to vote against the Libya intervention as a teller for the No camp in the Commons.


Image caption,
Julian Huppert, Tessa Munt and Duncan Hames are among the new Lib Dem faces

New entrants were small in number but still accounted for almost one in six of the Parliamentary party.

No new MPs made it into the ranks of ministers or were asked to head up a series of backbench committees designed to help the party retain an independent voice on issues outside the coalition.

However, Gordon Birtwhistle and Duncan Hames became parliamentary private secretaries, the latter also finding time to speak in 134 debates.

Others seemingly marked out for advancement were Tessa Munt and Stephen Gilbert, who were named as internal party whips responsible for enforcing discipline.

Discontent with the party leadership over the coalition has tended to come from established MPs.

But the Lib Dem rebellion over student tuition fees was on a different scale to anything seen in the party in recent decades. New MPs Julian Huppert, Stephen Lloyd, Ian Swales and Simon Wright all felt strongly enough to vote against the fees rise.

In a poll of party members earlier this year by the Lib Dem Voice website, Mr Huppert was selected as the MP who had made the biggest impression.


The SNP's Eilidh Whiteford, Plaid Cymru's Jonathan Edwards and a number of new MPs from the Democratic Unionists, the SDLP and the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland have all been trying to make their mark in their own areas.

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, the party's first MP, has also attracted attention with her campaign to reform what she sees as the Commons' outdated working practices, as well as opposing the government on spending cuts, tuition fees, Libya and Afghanistan.

She has also had more written questions answered than any other MP.

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