Whatever happened to the class of 2015? – the full list


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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 result of my researches, 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.

Duncan Hames – Duncan is a Director of Policy at Transparency International UK and married to Jo Swinson. He is Senior Independent (Non Executive) Director at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Nick Harvey – Until very recently Sir Nick was Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats. He is a Consultant on corporate strategy, communications and governance.

David Heath – David is Chair of the Western Council for Water, Senior Independent Director at the Soliticors Regulation Authority and a lay member of the governing body of the NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group. He is a Fellow, British College of Optometrists.

John Hemming – John helped the LibDem campaign in his old seat of Birmingham Yardley in the run-up to the December 12th election. In a recent Daily Mail article he wrote “I am just emerging from nearly five years of such hell” – describing protracted legal proceedings. John is a company director and a director of Justice for Families.

Martin Horwood – Martin is a Member of the European Parliament. He is a councillor on Cheltenham Borough Council and also Leckhampton and Warden Parish Council. Martin is a longstanding member of the Leckhampton Green Land Action Group (Leglag).

Julian Huppert – Julian stood for election again in Cambridge in 2017 but then said that was the last time he would stand for election. He is now a lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Studies, Cambridge University, director of the Intellectual Forum at Jesus College, Cambridge, a director of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, a visiting professor at Kings College London, a Patron of the British Humanist Association and a lay member of the governing body of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group.

Simon Hughes – Now, Sir Simon, he is the Chancellor of London South Bank University, an External Adviser on prison education to The Open University and UK Strategic Adviser to Talgo, a Spanish manufacturer of intercity, standard, and high speed passenger trains. Simon is also the Chair of the Local Governing Body of Bacon’s College Rotherhithe and Chair of the London Bubble Theatre, Senior Independent Director of the London Football Association and a trustee of the Millwall Community Trust and the Rose Theatre Trust.

Mike Thornton – Mike was elected in May 2017 as a Hampshire County Councillor, representing his own Bishopstoke and Fair Oak division. Mike is on Bishopstoke Parish Councillor. Mike is Chair of the 12th Eastleigh (Bishopstoke) Scouts, a Wyvern School Governor and Chair of the Personnel Committee of the governing body, a trustee of the Barrett’s Oesophagus Campaign and a Street Pastor. He is a carer/companion with Home Instead Senior Care and a trustee of the Eastleigh Asian Welfare and Cultural Association.

Mark Hunter – Mark is a councillor on Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council representing Cheadle Hulme South ward. He is honorary President of Stockport Parkinson’s Disease Society.

Charles Kennedy – Charles sadly died on 1st June 2015, just 63 days after losing his seat in Ross, Skye and Lochaber, which, in one shape or form, he had held for 32 years. He is very fondly remembered, not least for presiding, as leader, over the highest number of Liberal Democrat MPs, 62, in the 2005 General Election. RIP dear Charles.

Norman Lamb – Sir Norman held his North Norfolk seat in 2015 and 2017. He stood down shortly before the 2019 general election. With Norfolk Community Foundation, he has set up the Norman Lamb Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, that will support the work of mental health and learning disability charities.

David Laws – David is Executive Chairman of the Education Policy Institute. He has published three books on the coalition government years and is an adviser to Ark, an international education charity. He is a trustee of the Teachers Educational Trust. He is a member of the advisory council of another educational, charity Future First.

John Leech – John is a very active and campaigning leader of the Opposition on Manchester City Council. He has worked to improve and progress liberal parties across Europe, a board member of the charity Kids Count and a church council member. He is an amateur dramatics enthusiast with Manchester Road Players.

Stephen Lloyd – Stephen lost his Eastbourne seat in 2015, but won it again in 2017. He resigned the Liberal Democrat whip in 2018 and then stood unsuccessfully for the party in 2019.

Michael Moore – Michael is Director General at the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association. He is an advisory board member of the Edinburgh Business School at Herriott-Watt University. He is a governor of the Ditchley Foundation (a private charity aimed at promoting the US/EUropean alliance) and chairman of the Borders Book Festival.

Greg Mulholland – Greg held his Leeds North West seat at the 2015 general election but lost it in 2017. He is now a specialist campaigning and public affairs consultant. He runs his own Communications company. He is VicePresident of the Leeds Rhinos Foundation and founder of Political Animals, the Rugby League club of British politicians from all political parties. Greg is part of a 6 piece Yorkshire folk-rock band, whose album “My Northern Heart” was released in September 2019. Greg wrote all twelve songs on the album.

Tessa Munt – After losing her Wells seat in 2015, Tessa was our unsuccessful candidate there in 2017 and 2019. She is a Somerset County Counillor and is the Opposition spokesperson on Council Transformation. She is a governor of Hugh Sexey Middle School in Blackford , Somerset, and patron of Glastonbury Male Voice choir. Tessa is a member of a host of local and national charities and pressure groups.

John Pugh – John survived the Great Slaughter of 2015 and stood down from his Southport before the 2017 general election. In November 2017, he was elected to Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council as a councillor for Duke’s Ward. He is a trustee of Birkdale Library Group.

Alan Reid – After losing in 2015, Alan stood for the party in 2017 and 2019 in Argyll and Bute. He is a councillor on Argyll and Bute council and on a whole series of local boards of trustees, forums and panels.

Sir Robert Smith Bt. – Robert lost his West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine seat in 2015 after holding it for 18 years. In 2013 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Dan Rogerson – Dan is chair of the Wessex Water Partnership. He is a trustee of the charities Enable in Cornwall and St Piran’s Trust and is a school governor.

Bob Russell – Bob lost his Colchester seat in 2015 and was unsuccessful when he stood again in the 2017 election. The BBC reported in September 2015 that, after 18 years as Colchester MP, Sir Bob was offering guided tours of the constituency for £5 a time. He wants to put the money towards a statue of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star writer Jane Taylor, who lived in the town. Bob is High Steward of Colchester, which is a ceremonial role. As such, he leads an annual walk around the city’s Roman walls with proceeds going to charities. Bob continues to campaign for local causes. He recently spoke out against plans to build a thousand houses on an old army range.

Adrian Sanders – Shortly after losing the Torbay seat he held for 18 years, on 5 November 2015, Adrian was elected as the Liberal Democrat councillor for the Clifton-with-Maidenway ward of Paignton, taking almost 70 percent of the vote. He stood down from the council in May 2019. Adrian is Secretary General of the Parliamentarians for Diabetes Global Network and is a consultant lobbyist. He volunteers as a Trustee of a medical charity and the Parliamentary Outreach Trust and is a Vice-President of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He describes himself as “a supporter of freedom, social justice, environmentalism, constitutional reform & a cure for Type 1 diabetes”. A rock music fan, Adrian has occasionally presented such music on local radio.

Andrew Stunell – Andrew is now one of our peers, as Baron Stunell of Hazel Grove. He is our spokesperson on Construction.

Ian Swales – Ian was MP for Redcar from 2010 until standing down in 2015. From 2015 until 2018, Ian was Chair of the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), the body that represents companies in the chemical, pharmaceutical, polymer, renewable energy and materials, steel and biotechnology process industries in North-East England. He still lives in Redcar and is a non-executive Director of Redcar racecourse as well as various charity involvements.

Jo Swinson – After being MP for East Dunbartonshire for ten years, Jo lost her seat in 2015, then regained it in 2017, only to lose it again in 2019. She was leader of the party from 22 July to 13 December 2019. As such, Jo was the first female leader of our party – and the youngest.

Sarah Teather – Sarah is Director of the UK Jesuit Refugee Service. On her Twitter profile, she describes herself as “Music lover, besotted aunt, amateur gardener. (Recovering) former Gov Minister &MP.”

John Thurso – John is Chairman of Visit Scotland. He is in the House of Lords as the Rt Hon Viscount Thurso. He has a very interesting history of the “You couldn’t make it up” variety. He is the grandson of Sir Archibald Sinclair, the first Viscount of Thurso, who was leader of the Liberal Party from 1935 to 1945 and also Secretary of State for Air during World War II. John was initially in the House of Lords as the third Viscount Thurso from 1995 until 1999 when his automatic right to sit as an hereditary peer was absolished. He was elected to the House of Commons in 2001 until his defeat in 2015. In 2016 he was elected back to the House of Lords as hereditary peer, where he remains. Indeed, he was unanimously elected by the electorate of three! He is the Lord Lieutenant of Caithness and is chair of two commercial companies.

David Ward – After five years, David lost his Bradford East seat in 2015. He then returned to local politics in 2016 as a Liberal Democrat councillor on the City of Bradford Metropolitan Council where he remains. David is a supporter of Amnesty International, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Campaign against the Arms Trade and Bradford City Foundation.

Steve Webb – Steve lost his Thornbury & Yate/Northavon seat, which he held for 18 years, in 2015. He was knighted in 2017. Steve is director of policy at the financial services mutual Royal London. In that role, Steve provides excellent advice to pensioners andthose approaching pension age, for example, he has written an excellent guide called “Topping up your state pension – everything you ever wanted to know”.

Mark Williams – Mark has now returned to his previous profession of teaching. He won his Ceredigion seat in 2015 and completed 12 years as its MP on 2017 when he stood unsuccessfully for re-election. He also stood without success in 2019. Last month in a message to local residents he said “This is my home, where I and my brilliant wife and children live. Ceredigion has been so good to me and (I) intend to work on the community issues I care so much about.”. Mark is President of the South West Wales & Borth British Legions and a campaigner for global education, devolution & human rights.

Roger Williams – After 14 years as MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, Roger lost his seat in 2015. He is a Councillor on Powys County Council and three community councils. He is the partner of his family farming business and Trustee and Tresurer of Brecon Mind, as well as being Vice President of Brecknockshire Young Farmers’ Club.

Stephen Williams – After holding the seat of Bristol West for ten years, Stephen was defeated in 2015 and then again in 2017. He stood unsuccessfully for Mayor of the West of England in 2017 and in the European Elections in 2019. He continues to be involved in politics and particularly Bristol & West of England, heritage and LGBT issues.

Jenny Willott – Jenny was MP for Cardiff Central until she lost her seat in 2015. She is director of Enterprise and Innovation at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. She is also a member of the board of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority’s board. Jenny is also chair of the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s Consumer Panel.

Simon Wright – Simon was MP for Norwich South from 2010 until he was defeated in 2015. He is now Chief Executive Officer of Nelson’s Journey, a charity which helps children affected by bereavement in Norfolk. He is a keen runner. Simon and wife Anna Thorpe have done more than 200 Parkruns between them. He told the BBC last month: “There is life after parliament so that doesn’t have to be what defines your future.” – An uplifting note on which to end this list!

* 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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22 Comments

  • nigel hunter 8th Jan '20 - 12:06pm

    There is a lot of talent in the bunch. They should be consulted as to how to grow our base . Their community experiences can come in very handy.

  • Dr Brian Metters 8th Jan '20 - 12:42pm

    An amazing piece of research, very revealing. Didn’t spot many with “proper jobs”, most of them working for organisations paid for by taxpayers or donors. Speaks volumes …..

  • A sad reminder of the opportunity missed by the Lib Dems…given the chance to make a real and lasting positive change it was thrown away and likely never to return..the legacy is the dreaded Coalition and the cruelty of the Bedroom Tax etc..I voted for the party and hoped for the best but more fool me. Very sad.

  • Lords reform is necessary, how can a party with so few MP’s have that many in the Lords?

  • Alex Macfie 8th Jan '20 - 1:37pm

    Dr Brian Metters: And what constitutes a “proper job” in your eyes? Your arrogant dismissal of people’s gainful employment speaks volumes.

  • Paul from Eastern Eu 8th Jan '20 - 1:47pm

    Somehow you forgot to mention Chris Hune. One of the better known LibDems. Why?

  • Robert Hardware 8th Jan '20 - 1:52pm

    Mark Williams is a deputy head teacher in Powys.

  • Michael Bird 8th Jan '20 - 2:05pm

    Distinct lack of – ‘Started a company doing… giving employment to nnn people’.

  • nigel hunter 8th Jan '20 - 2:07pm

    Their experience outside of Parliament in the ‘real World’ should still be considered,especially if it is to do with community development.

  • Adrian Mark Sanders 8th Jan '20 - 3:15pm

    Paul can’t know everything and neither do I but as an Executive member of the Former MPs Association I do know there is much more to know about many of the people named above, including my own details. LinkedIn is a good place to go to look up former colleagues. What we put on Facebook or Twitter is always going to be an abbreviation of activity. There are some lessons to learn from the exercise for which Paul should receive credit. Many colleagues across Parties find employment difficult to find when defeated, particularly if their Party loses political power at the same time. Those honoured find work easier to find than those who don’t, so future Leaders take note and don’t give Knighthoods or other honours to people who may already have them especially if you are putting them into the Lords. And Michael Bird and Dr Brian Metters, there are several colleagues who have gone into self-employment, started companies and continued to employ people as they did in the House, I am one of them, and many are in the private sector or rely on private sector finance as one of my current roles does. In short, there’s a lot more to add to the stories above.

  • Mike Handcock, Portsmouth South? Though I guess he was an independent by the time the 2015 election came round

  • Innocent Bystander 8th Jan '20 - 5:05pm

    Paul,
    So the HoL is only for ex politicians in proportion to their vote share?
    They should only have 11% of ex MPs not 11% of the total.

  • Many thanks for this. Fascinating!
    Just to say I stood down in 2015. I didn’t lose. I still live in Redcar and am a non-exec Director of Redcar racecourse as well as various charity involvements.

  • Brian Metters – “most of them working for organisations paid for by taxpayers or donors. Speaks volumes”
    You mean charities and public services? Yes, how awful of them to put their skills and experience to use in such ways. Many of them are involved in these organisations in a voluntary (unpaid) capacity of course, the venal swine that they are.

  • Nicholas M Cotter 9th Jan '20 - 12:15pm

    Do we know what the wonderful Paul Holmes (former Chesterfield MP) is up to ? ….

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