The laggards left behind by Labour's gleaming machine

One said he had not been spoken to like that since he was 14. Another said it was the worst moment of his political career.

These are not the Tories who lost their seats on 1 May. These are Labour MPs who won, and then suffered a humiliating defeat. After years of hard graft, of giving their all on Labour's front bench, of awaiting the great day when they would receive their ministerial red boxes, they took a call from Downing Street, and were told they were not wanted.

Some may never recover from the shock. Joan Ruddock, widely thought to have been on the fast-track to high office, is going nowhere and is said by friends to be devastated. Lewis Moonie, a frontbench fixture since 1991, is said to be baffled. Rhodri Morgan, once Labour's ebullient Welsh spokesman, is said not to know what he has done wrong.

The list goes on. Stuart Bell, Kevin Barron, Tom Pendry, Malcolm Wicks, Keith Vaz have been consigned to the cold. In all, 18 frontbenchers who expected a congratulatory call from Tony Blair have either been shunted out or demoted.

In addition, several backbenchers who not unreasonably fancied their chances of joining the ministerial ladder have nothing to look forward to but the endless tedium of the back benches.

Giles Radice, once a minister and latterly a distinguished advocate of civil service reform, will now not get the chance to put his ideas into practice. Tony Wright, thinker and moderniser, has found his thoughts are not wanted. Kate Hoey and Margaret Hodge are others whose efforts were in vain.

Since returning to Westminster, the losers have sought each other out, desperate to share their experience, to hear what happened to others, to feel they are not alone. They discuss how so and so upset Peter Mandelson, he fell foul of Gordon Brown, she made a gaffe and has never been allowed to forget it. If there is a pattern, claimed one loser, trying to console himself, it is that the centre has wanted absolute control. For that to happen, he said, the periphery has to be weak, so frontbenchers on top of their briefs have been moved around or out altogether.

The thought of spending the next five or 10 years as backbenchers under a huge Labour majority fills them with dread. "It will be boring beyond belief," said an ex-frontbencher. "There will be nothing for us to do - God knows when we will even get a chance to speak. We can't be seen to be asking awkward questions of our own side. It is just going to be awful."

While the fresh-faced newcomers rushed around the Commons last week, for some older hands, the euphoria of election night already seems a long time ago.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map