One-term wonders leave their old lives

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If Labour's employment team registers a small, temporary blip in the unemployment figures this morning they have only last Thursday's landslide to blame.

Many of those new MP's who may have hoped, but never expected, to win will today have to inform their current employers they are leaving, in anticipation of starting their new careers in central London.

All the new members will be exhilarated but their bank managers may be less happy; a number of the new professional breed of Blairite MP's who scraped in thanks to the huge swing will be taking substantial pay cuts and moving to a job which is notoriously insecure.

As one cynic put it yesterday: "These are the one-term wonders who must know they may never make it to Parliament again if the electorate swings back even slightly next time."

Out of the new intake of Labour MP's around 60 were in such "safe" Tory seats that Labour HQ had omitted them from their main target list, and some remain an unknown quantity to party bosses.

At 30, Stephen Twigg, whose breath-taking victory in Enfield Southgate over Michael Portillo has entered political folklore, knows he still has time on his side. "Even if I lost next time I would still be only be 35," he said. Not that defeat is on his mind. "I'm genuinely delighted at winning. It will be a great challenge, trying to turn what has been a Tory seat into a Labour seat."

Mr Twigg, whose main ambition had been to halve Mr Portillo's majority, will now have to give up his post as general secretary to the Fabian Society. "When I applied for the job there was a requirement what no one could get it who was standing for public office.

"I only got the job by persuading them I was standing in a seat where I could not possibly win."

The Blairite MP says he is unusual among the new intake. "My salary will be going up - nearly everyone else's seems to be going down."

Ivan Henderson, the docker who took Harwich from the sports minister Ian Sproat, with a swing of 14 per cent, admitted that some regarded his candidacy more as a "tester" than as one with a chance of winning. Now he is elected he has no intention, he says, of becoming just a "one-term wonder". He believes that in many seats, including his own, Tory MP's have not put in the effort locally they could have.

Hove, in Sussex, conjures up an image of a true-blue town; but its Labour candidate, Ivor Caplin, will this morning hand in his resignation as quality manager in Legal & General's marketing division after sweeping to victory on the back of a 16.4 per cent swing. Mr Caplin, 38, says he has "no regrets" at giving up such a secure career.

His wife Maureen confesses she is a little "nervous" at him giving up his job for the uncertainties of full-time politics. "I did not expect him to win. I was shocked - and very pleased."

For Dutch-born lecturer Rudi Vis, 56, his unexpected win in the former Thatcher stronghold of Finchley - with a swing of 15 per cent - has left him with a dilemma; when to resign his economics post at the University of East London without harming his students.

Another lecturer, Roger Casale, 34, will have to leave his students after his surprising win in the Tory bastion of Wimbledon - number 177 on Labour's target list - with a swing of more than 17 per cent. He will say goodbye to his students today.

On Thursday the new MP for Croydon Central, Geraint Davies, will resign as leader of Croydon council, after overturning a Tory majority of nearly 15,000. Pleased, but surprised to be the MP, Mr Davies confessed that none of the main parties - inluding his own - thought Labour was going to win.

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