Cup Final feeling for new boy in the House

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The Independent Online
As the taxi nudged down Whitehall a 12-year journey was coming to an end for Labour's first MP for Selby in North Yorkshire. When John Grogan, now 36, was first selected to fight the seat it had a Conservative majority of 20,000. He almost gave up after his second attempt in1992, but the thought of Labour winning it without him sent him back for just one more try.

And it paid off. Yesterday morning, in response to a command from the whips' office, he was on the 7am train from Leeds with the equally new and surprised Labour MP for Scarborough and Whitby, Lawrie Quinn.

"I always feel about seven-years-old when I come to London," Mr Grogan said as Horse Guards Parade inched into view. "I associate it with cup finals and excitement. Being an MP and mildly important myself is a great thrill."

He admits to finding it all a bit daunting. But he thinks the best way is to take it steady, not to try to walk before he can run. Tony Blair's government can muddle through perfectly well while he gets an office, a secretary and somewhere to live.

As he spoke, and with impeccable timing, his brand new pager went off for the first time. It was Michael Meacher's office. Could he come in to see the environment minister tomorrow morning about a local issue on which he has already been lobbying? Perhaps hiring the secretary will have to wait a day or two.

"I do feel excited and a little bit nervous ... you think, `can I do this?' Losing almost becomes a way of life. You campaign, you lose an election, then you go and do something else," he said.

At 5am last Friday, after a long night, Mr Grogan knew that this time, it was going to be different. The Tories' 9,000 majority in Selby was now a 3,800 Labour majority.

Yesterday his tasks were relatively simple. Do a short interview with Radio York in the cab, get a security pass, hear a speech by Tony Blair, meet the Yorkshire Post and watch the re-election of the Speaker of the Commons.

He began to talk about all the things he must do - in particular, working to build up his local party. "It's pointless to say I won because I shook 10,000 hands. I won because of the Blair effect and the modernisation of the Labour Party," he said, adding: "I'd better admit I'm grown up now," before heading for the House of Commons to talk office space.