First-year report on Westminster from the class of '92: Before the general election, 21 women told us why they were candidates. A year on, three of them, now MPs, give Penny Jackson their first impressions

LIZ LYNNE, 45, Liberal Democrat MP for Rochdale

I was thrown in at the deep end and had to swim. As health and community care spokesman, I manage to speak a lot. I had to ask a question before my maiden speech.

I love speaking. It's why I am a politician and why I became an actress. My mother ran a home for disabled people and that made an enormous impression on me. I wanted to be a voice for them and set my mind on doing plays with a message.

My voice-training has helped me enormously. I don't notice when people shout while I am speaking. A job I once did at Butlin's couldn't have been a better preparation - youths at the back shouting, the crushing of crisp packets and Tannoy announcements. I haven't needed to use my full acting voice, but I know that I can make my voice louder than anyone so I am bound to be heard.

I do get angry with the antics. Some MPs behave like children - 'look at me, notice me'. It is demeaning and insults constituents. It takes away the seriousness of the message. I was angry and upset during the Budget debate at the party political point- scoring. I know an 85-year-old woman who has to stay in bed until midday to keep warm. I even know what that's like. It is not a political game. But the rants always get the coverage, reasonable people aren't covered in debates.

It has been an exhausting year, but extremely rewarding. It would have been tremendously difficult for a woman with family commitments.

TESSA JOWELL, 45, Labour MP for Dulwich

What I dislike most about the House of Commons is that nobody will admit they have been wrong. Someone always has to win. I find it an ugly part of the adversarial system.

I enjoy speaking in the Chamber - it can be an unbelievably exhilarating place. But it can also be extremely ill-mannered. The tactic of ministers who put their feet up on the dispatch box is pure boys' prep school insolence. If this is how people see us behaving, it's no wonder they imagine we don't work for our living.

Initially I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work - I get about 150 letters a day. Being a good constituency case-worker is extremely important to me.

Sometimes I still feel as though I have been cast into the middle of a fast-flowing stream. You do have a sense of not belonging to yourself. It is difficult to keep a semblance of a normal family life, but I have wonderful support at home. My husband is always there for the children in the evening when I am not and I never miss anything that is important to them. My children are proud that I'm an MP but also very private about it. I came up as a subject of a 20 questions quiz at my daughter's school and she was very upset. She doesn't want everyone to know. But they come periodically to the House of Commons for supper and they love that.

We will not get more women with children in seats a long way from London until Parliament is organised along different lines. Women consider being an MP as a job, not a way of life.

ANGELA KNIGHT, 42, Conservative MP for Erewash

It was my son's sixth birthday the day after the election so at 5.30 in the morning I found myself building a Lego harbour with him and that takes a good hour or so.

The children take our routine in their stride. I don't leave Sheffield for London until Monday morning. I call them every morning and evening and we chat on and on. On Friday mornings they rush to get into bed with Mum. The six-year-old comes with me to my surgery and to events that I think he will enjoy, perhaps where there are other children.

Families are very important, but you can organise your life so that you don't end up with competing demands. Our holidays are the same as the schools' and the children come to London for half-term. They love coming to the House of Commons, standing on the window seats and bird-watching.

I know that this is a male- dominated place, but I am used to working with a lot of men. I'm as bad as the rest of them bawling and shouting, but the issues are very important and you have to jump up and say how it is.

What would be better for those of us who are not London MPs would be longer working days with an earlier finish on Thursdays, so that we could get off to our constituencies. That would really make a difference.

I don't believe you can join an institution and then immediately set about changing it. It needs to evolve gradually so it works in the way the rest of the world works.

(Photographs omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Voices
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
people
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
News
people... and stop them from attacking people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Associate Recrutiment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

    Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

    £120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

    PMLD Teacher

    Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?