The 2017 General Election saw 92 MPs elected to the Commons for the very first time. In a series of exclusive interviews, HuffPost UK is speaking to new MPs from the Conservatives, Labour, SNP and Lib Dems. This week, it’s Ben Bradley...
On a night of disappointment for the Conservatives, Ben Bradley’s win in Mansfield was a rare positive.
The 27-year-old took the seat from Labour in what was the Tories first every victory in the Nottinghamshire constituency.
The former landscape gardener had dreams of being professional hockey player until he realised he...erm...wasn’t good enough.
Despite being an MP, he is a fan of anti-establishment music and hasn’t really got any political heroes, but has thrown himself into life in the Commons by bringing together fellow young Tories to form a scrutiny group.
Here’s Ben Bradley’s 17 from ’17 interview.
Where were you born and raised?
Derbyshire originally, so 10-15 miles from Mansfield. I’ve lived all round that neck of the woods, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire.
What did you want to be when you were 16?
Not this. I wanted to be a PE teacher all the way through school. I went to uni to do sport and was trying to play hockey, and then realised when I got there that hockey is an amateur sport and you can’t actually make a living out of it unless you’re really good. Turned out I wasn’t really good so ended up dropping out. It wasn’t until I was like 20, 21 I went back to uni to do politics because it was vague enough to not railroad me down one particular path. Obviously it railroaded me quite effectively.
When did you first become interesting in politics?
I’ve always been political - with a small ‘p’ - and into current affairs and keeping track of all that. I’ve always been very opinionated, in the same way as my wife now says ‘I’don’t care about politics’ but has a very strong view on absolutely everything. I didn’t really connect it to party politics until I dropped out of uni.
Working as a landscaper and digging holes and having a bit of a miserable time and then kind of figuring out there were a lot of people doing not as much work as me and still seem to be enjoying themselves more than me.
I’ve probably always been Conservative without really knowing, just on the basis I don’t think the Government should do everything for you. It’s about giving people the opportunity to sort themselves out. I didn’t join the party until then and I’ve only been a councillor since 2015. It’s all been quite quick.
Who is your political hero?
I don’t know if I have one, it’s odd. I’m not one of those who’s wanted to be Prime Minister since I was 11 and was a big fan of Churchill and all that crap you always hear.
It was David Cameron that kind of dragged me into it all. He was relatable. For a posh lad, he was alright. He came across as normalish for a posh lad. He was charismatic, and a bit of charm and sense of humour you don’t always find.
He had the kind of character you can warm to if you take all the Eton and Oxbridge out of it, actually he was alright. To meet him, he was a nice fella. He was chatty and would carry a conversation along. He was alright.
His whole mantra about trying to change the way the party was viewed in terms of being more compassionate and more in touch with normal people, which had the irony of him being the posh lad in the room, but that really connected with me and where I was. I don’t really go back much before that, if it was pre-Tony Blair I was a baby or not born.
Who is your favorite politician from another party?
This seems odd, as I’ve not really met them, but I actually really like Ed Balls and Ed Miliband now they are not weighed down by the drudgery of it all. They are entertaining now. I listened to Ed Miliband doing screamo rock and practicing his screamo voice and thought: ‘You really don’t care anymore do you?’ It’s good to see people with personalities. I wouldn’t have said that if they were actually in charge of stuff.
What did you do before becoming an MP?
Most recently I worked for another MP, Mark Spencer, immediately next door to me in Sherwood. I was a councillor and before that I was in recruitment very briefly because I hated that with a passion. A landscape gardener, worked in a bar, worked for the Open University for a bit doing admin stuff. I’ve worked out that at the age of 27 I’ve had about 10 or 11 different jobs. I’ve never really found anything. My dad joined the police at 18 and is still a policeman now at fifty-whatever. No one does that anymore. We talk about problems of security of work but it’s just the way of the world. We’ve got to deal with it better.
If you could run any Government department which would it be?
DCMS. I’m a sports nut - I love it. I’m involved in a lot of stuff so I’m trying to get involved in skills in education, particularly trying to support demographics like Mansfield where they don’t have degrees largely and how do we make that work for people better. Social media and young people’s mental health I’m particularly interested in - again DCMS, through digital. If there was one thing I was really passionate about, taking all of the actual job of being an MP out of it what would I enjoy, it would be DCMS. Just to be able to spend all day talking about and going to lots of things that I like, basically. When Sajid Javid was there he was on the presentation committee for the FA Cup, so really cool stuff.
What was the last book you read?
I’m reading at the minute that Iain Dale Politico guide to 2017. I was interested to see what they had written about me, having never met them. It was largely out-of-date actually. It was alright, my page was full but some others had half.
Who is your favourite band or artist?
I really like singer-songwriters so James Bay and Ed Sheeran. I really like Gaslight Anthem - I got their first album 10 years ago and I’ve got them all. They are probably my favourite band.
One of my favourite gigs I’ve ever been to was King Blues at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham. They are really anti-establishment, anti-government, I probably shouldn’t even say I like them. They even do some of the Labour campaign stuff but it’s really good music. Frank Turner is the same with his songs about Thatcher.
What’s your favourite film?
There’s a few. Lucky Number Slevin, that’s a good film. All the usual, I like culty things like Fight Club and Donnie Darko.
What one thing would you change about UK politics if you could?
I’ve been talking about this a lot, but I think we need to catch up. A lot of the new MPs who have come in on all sides of the House are probably a bit more connected with the real world and 2015, equally. You lose that touch as you go along.
What I would like to see is more of those really capable guys from 2015 and 2010 get pushed forward for stuff because there are a lot of really relatable, really positive people that could do the country a good service but need a job in order to do so.
Which three words would your best friend use to describe you?
That’s hard - he’s probably used lots of three word phrases. I’m kind of his wisdom. My best mate is a really nice guy and plugging along with stuff and he comes for careers advice as I’m the sensible one. Yeah, ‘the sensible one’.
When I was at uni I moved in with my wife and by the time I finished uni the second time we were having a baby and all that so I was quite grown up. They used to call me the ‘anti-lad’ because they were all out on the piss and I had to go home.