All of us in political advocacy await with baited breath the outcome of the most uncertain General Election in a generation. The growing UKIP and SNP insurgencies and main parties' collective woes ensure the outcome of next month's polls is almost impossible to predict. With most politicos preoccupied with talk of debates, red lines and cross-party coalition deals, little attention has been paid to the rising stars of the new intake of MPs that will take their seats on May 18 in the House of Commons.
2015 could be a year of upheaval in Westminster, 89 MPs are stepping down, and once the forced retirements happen, we could see new MPs forming around a quarter of the Commons. In the past, the party apparatchiks and high-fliers would be parachuted into these seats. But it isn't the special advisers, party organisers and campaigners who will dominate the cohort of new MPs this year. Instead, the class of 2015 will have a diverse array of career backgrounds. Lee Sherriff, a former shop worker and Labour PPC in Carlisle and Kate Osamor in Edmonton for example, didn't go to university.
There will be a record number of female MPs; three in ten MPs will be women. Labour will meet its long standing target of achieving a Parliamentary party made up of over 40% women. Yet whilst the Conservatives have made progress in selecting more female candidates, the party will need to decide what further action it can take in future as they will still lag behind Labour with just 1 in 5 women MPs.
We also anticipate a record number of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) MPs, potentially increasing from 27 to over 40. This could see the election of at least one and possibly two MPs of Chinese origin. Conservative Associations are to be commended for selecting BAME candidates in rather unexpected places: such as Rishi Sunak who will inherit Richmond in Yorkshire from William Hague; and Nusrat Ghani in Wealden, who hopes to be the first Muslim woman to serve on the Conservative benches. Labour too will have more BAME MPs including potentially two in marginal seats: Tulip Siddiq, the granddaughter of the first President of Bangladesh; and Uma Kumaran who would be the first MP of Somali heritage.
ICG (Insight Consulting Group) have this week published Parliamentary Candidates to Watch featuring established heavyweights including Boris Johnson, Alex Salmond and Nigel Farage whose reputations precede them. Yet there are also others, such as Plaid Cymru's Liz Saville-Roberts, whose election to the Commons would represent progress as the party's first female MP. Additionally, some first-time General Election campaigners such as the SNP's Natalie McGarry and Neil Hay, who could become leading parliamentarians in a large SNP group.
Despite the uncertainty, one thing we do know is that the 2015 Parliament will be more representative of the country as a whole. Less male, less pale and less stale. When trust in politicians has been so low, this will be a welcome outcome.
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