Whatever happened to the class of 2015? (1)


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I suppose that it is very easy to get into the mindset that politics is everything in life. But it turns out that there is life outside of Westminster.

I read the other day that former Labour Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, is training to become a gym instructor.

That started me thinking about what had happened to our vast number of MPs from before the election in 2015.

Stephen Gilbert, former MP for St Austell and Newquay, for example. Whatever happened to him after he posted a “Gone Surfing” post-it note on his Twitter account in 2015? Well, it turns out he’s a teacher.

I then thought I’d better find about some of the others and, before I knew it, I was launching a vast spreadsheet and had started a huge task.

Anyway, here is the first part of my researches, starting in alphabetical order. If you spot any omissions or errors, please let me know in the comments below:

Danny Alexander – Danny is vice president and corporate secretary at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. On Linkedin, he gives his location as “Xicheng District, Beijing, China”.

Norman Baker – Since 2015, Norman has been very active musically, including issuing a solo album “Staying Blue”. He has written a book on the Royal Family called “And what do you do?”. From March 2017 until December 2018 he was Managing Director of The Big Lemon bus company in Brighton.

Alan Beith – Alan is part of our House of Lords team as Baron Beith, of Berwick-upon-Tweed. With his wife Baroness Maddock (formerly Diana Maddock, President of the Liberal Dmoecrats and MP for Christchurch) they make up one of the few married couples who are both titled in their own right. Alan serves as President of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum and of the Historic Chapels Trust, a charity he helped to found and of which was Chair of Trustees 2001–14. He is also President of Northumberland Hospital Radio and of the National Liberal Club.

Gordon Birtwistle – Gordon stood unsuccessfully for us in Burnley at the 2017 and 2019 general elections. He is a councillor and leader of the LiDems on Burnley Borough Council, holding the portfolio for economy and growth.

Tom Brake – Tom held his seat in 2015 and 2017, but narrowly lost, by 629 votes, in 2019. He was the party’s superb Brexit spokesperson in the long aftermath of the 2016 referendum.

Annette Brooke – Dame Annette Brooke was the longest serving female MP in the history of the Liberal Democrats. On her very active Twitter page she says: “v busy in retirement- dementia project, Dorset Equality Group, campaigning for Lib Dems and much more!”

Jeremy Browne – Since June 2018, Jeremy has been Aberdeen Standard Investments’ International Business Ambassador.

Malcolm Bruce – Maclolm is part of our House of Lords team as Baron Bruce of Bennachie, of Torphins. He is an associate at Global Partners Governance, a special representative for the Start Network and a senior advisor to Development Alternatives, Inc, an international development company.

Paul Burstow – Paul is Chair of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and a trustee of Action on Smoking and Health. In 2016 he became a part-time professor of mental health policy at the University of Birmingham. Paul was appointed as Chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence in July 2017. He is independent chair of Hertfordshire and West Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership. He is Professor of Mental Health Public Policy at the University of Birmingham. He is chair of the national advisory council on Transform Ageing at the Design Council. He is President of TSA, formerly the Telecare Services Association.

Lorely Burt – Lorely is part of our House of Lords team as Baroness Burt of Solihull. She is a Fellow of Institute of Sales and Marketing Management.

Vince Cable – Though Vince lost his seat in 2015, he won it again in 2017 and was leader of the party from 2017 until 2019. He is a Patron of MyBigCareer, (a career guidance charity for young people), the Polycystic Kidney Disease Charity, a Patron of the Changez Charity and chair of HCT Group, a social enterprise transport operator.

Menzies Campbell – Menzies sits in the House of Lords as Baron Campbell of Pittenweem. He is Chancellor of the University of St Andrews.

Alistair Carmichael – Alistair is a rare House of Commons survivor from 2010, as MP for Orkney and Shetland, and serves as our Chief Whip.

Nick Clegg – Nick is Vice-President for Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook and lives in Atherton, California.

Mike Crockart – Mike is “now a bowler-hatted civil servant reforming ScotGov public services”. He is Transformation Lead at the Scottish Government.

Ed Davey – Ed Davey lost his Kingston and Surbiton seat in 2015 but re-won it in 2017 and was re-elected with a stonking 10,489 majority in 2019. He is now acting co-leader of the party.

Tim Farron – Tim won his Westmorland and Lonsdale seat in 2015, 2017 and 2019. He was leader of the party from 2015 unti 2017 and is our spokesperson for Communities and Local Government, Work and Pensions, Housing and Planning and the Northern Powerhouse.

Lynne Featherstone – Lynne is in the House of Lords as Baroness Featherstone, of Highgate in the London Borough of Haringey and has published a book, Equal Ever After, about the work to establish the legal right to same-sex marriage.

Don Foster – Don is now in the Lords as Baron Foster of Bath. His interests include Third World issues, being a member of Amnesty International and the Child Poverty Action Group as well as supporting a number of local charities, including Ted’s Big Day Out and Julian House. Don’s main national charity is WaterAid. He is a Vice-President of the Debating Group.

Andrew George – Andrew unsuccessfully contested his old St Ives seat in 2017 and 2019. He remains a very active local and national campaigner. He is currently the Director of affordable housing charity Cornwall Community Land Trust and runs other research and campaign projects with the support of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust and others.

Steve Gilbert – Steve is now a teacher. According to a Wikipedia update, Steve is now History and Politics teacher at the King’s (Comprehensive) School, Worcester.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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15 Comments

  • Gordon Lishman 4th Jan '20 - 1:53pm

    Councillor Gordon Birtwistle is Leader of the LiDems on Burnley Borough Council and portfolio holder for economy and growth.

  • Tony Greaves 4th Jan '20 - 4:39pm

    Can we sort out male peers’ names please? No-one uses the word Baron – we are Lords. And the ordinary name may include an “of xxx” place-name (or may not) but does not include the territorial designation after the comma. So Ming is indeed Lord Campbell of Pittenweem. Malcolm is just Lord Bruce of Bennachie. Alan is just Lord Beith.

    Women life peers are usually called Baroness XXX and the other rules apply. So Diana is Baroness Maddock. Lorelei is Baroness Burt of Sollihull.

    (I am Lord Greaves).

  • Tony Greaves 4th Jan '20 - 4:49pm

    I think the other ex-MP from the Coalition days who is now in the Lords is Andrew Stunell (Lord Stunell). By the way it’s Birtwistle (sic)!

  • It would also be worth pointing out who is actually still a member of the party. I can think of at least one or two who I suspect no longer are.

  • Sue Sutherland 5th Jan '20 - 3:28pm

    Paul, I’m very glad you called some of our members of the House of Lords by the wrong name. It shows a healthy disinterest in an institution that we want to demolish and replace with an elected second chamber.

  • I think they might be Baron X of Y but according to the parliament website if writing to them you put The Lord Z on the envelope and start Dear Lord Z whereas higher (or lower depending on your point of view) “grades” get their Viscount etc. on the envelope and Dear Lord Z (except Dukes who get Dear Duke of X) – for all the gory details (!) – see:

    https://www.parliament.uk/business/lords/whos-in-the-house-of-lords/how-to-address-a-lord/

    Mostly from memory the media follow use use Lord X when describing people – with most life peers adopting their surname as their Lordship moniker – the only example I can think of that hasn’t (and their are probably others) is Lord Debden – the former John Gummer

    How does Councillor “interact” with “Lord” is Tony Greaves – Cllr Lord Greaves?

    The wonders of the internet discussing how to address people sitting in a chamber I want abolished!

  • Sue Sutherland – I dont want to “demolish” the House of Lords, I just want it to be elected and the easiest, simplest and best way to do that would be to elect Lords and Ladies instead of appointing them (and obviously reduce their numbers from thousands to between 300 and 600). Just as “MP” is added to the end of your name if youre elected to the House of Commons, “Lord” or “Lady” would be added if you were elected to the House of Lords. Doing it this way keeps the historic links whilst being 100% democratic.

  • Diana Simpson 8th Jan '20 - 2:15pm

    Diana (Beith) Maddock. Diana spelled with an ‘a’ at the end, not Diane (sic).

  • “I always use the Baron thing because it makes the unelected house seem ridiculous – as it is. ”

    Fair enough! And good point!

  • The House of Lords is famously the second biggest parliamentary chamber after China’s National People’s Congress – although that is pretty small on a per capita basis. And about the only one where inmates get a life sentence (Canada until age 75)!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_legislatures_by_country
    https://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2017/09/15/7-biggest-legislatures-worldwide-what-about-the-house-of-lords/

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