Where are they now? Ten who got away

One day they are members of what remains the country's most elite club, enjoying perks and privilege

It's been compared unfavourably with bereavement, one former inmate suggesting, only half-jokingly, that those who die may be the lucky ones. Eviction from the less famous of the Big Brother houses, the mock Gothic fun palace on the north bank of the Thames, is certainly a disorientating and, for many, a painful experience.

One day they are members of what remains the country's most elite club, enjoying perks and privileges that follow the magic initials "MP" after a surname. The next day they are nobodies, ex-somebodies forced to start all over again.

Casting an eye over those denied the easy options of a peerage or a lobbying job, I found that life after political death does exist - if not always as we know it.

I was reassured to discover that Tony McWalter is philosophical after being ousted from Hemel Hempstead last year by the Tories. Briefly famous for leaving Tony Blair spluttering at PMQs when he asked the outgoing dear leader for a "brief characterisation of the political philosophy which he espouses", the one-time philosophy lecturer has reinvented himself as a lecturer in, erm, engineering mathematics at the University of Hertfordshire.

Paid the unprincely annual sum of £9,450 for full-time work rewarded at a part-time rate, McWalter's CV listing of his past occupation as a parliamentarian has proved to be a disqualification on a par with a spell in one of Her Majesty's other institutions. "I've been turned down for hundreds of jobs," he admitted. "No matter how conscientious you were as an MP, and I had to be in a marginal seat, it's not seen as a real job. You just have to keep on trying for a proper job, but my age, 61, also counts against me."

Another beaten Labour Tony, Tony Clarke, once of Northampton South, is now general manager of his local football club when not helping the police with their inquiries into the handling of a Tony Blair-George Bush memorandum on US threats to bomb al-Jazeera.

Indeed, Northampton Town - nicknamed The Cobblers because of the local shoe industry, rather than how they play - won promotion to the Coca-Cola League One under his tutelage. Clarke, incidentally, is a special constable and so was able to use his warrant card to escort Special Branch detectives into an interview suite to speak to him about the Downing Street memo.

Still dreaming of a return to Westminster and perhaps one day even the Premiership, Clarke's club is a football minnow compared to that of Brian "Ticketmaster" Wilson. The former trade and energy minister sits on the board of Celtic and is tipped as a future chairman.

Call me picky if you wish, but I recall that Wilson wanted to spend more time with his family, so it's presumably commendable how he can also squeeze into his busy day a clutch of directorships, sitting on the energy fence out of office as well as in by representing Amec Nuclear and Airtricity renewables. The latter builds wind turbines, so Wilson could boast he owned a green generator long before David Cameron started tilting at windmills. And MPs really do murmur how generous he is with tickets for Celtic Park.

Also prominent in the new Labour Tartan mafia is Helen "Attila the Hen" Liddell, who traded London for Canberra as Our Woman in Australia, to the chagrin of some faceless Foreign Office mandarin denied a cushy number after years of diarrhoea in fly-blown outposts. Quite a prize for retiring from the 2005 scramble for seats in Scotland. Paul "Today Brent South, Tomorrow Soweto" Boateng also did well for himself, quitting as an MP and cabinet minister not for the township, but a big house as UK high commissioner to South Africa. Never let it be said that Blair doesn't look after the Blairites.

Foxy Jackie Ballard is enjoying the last laugh over hunters who brayed loudly when she lost Taunton in 2001 following a concerted campaign of Lib Dem-baiting. She initially went to "find herself" in Iran, learning Farsi, which might come in handy should she fancy a career as an IAEA nuclear inspector. Instead, she returned to Britain as director general of the RSPCA, from where she again speaks out against the unspeakable. Should Ballard's old party turn nasty and seek to bring down the wounded wildebeest on the edge of the Lib Dem herd that is Ming Campbell, she can call off the dogs or have him shot. Humanely, of course.

Ian Bruce is unlikely to be heard boasting that he was the only Tory to lose a seat to Labour in 2001, when tactical voting delivered South Dorset to the schools minister Jim Knight, yet he deserves a nod of respect. Bruce returned to pavement politics in Westham West ward as an elected member of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, on the audit and regeneration committees, though I concede he tried and failed to board the Brussels gravy train in the 2004 Euro elections. Coincidentally, forgotten Keith Darvill, elected in Upminster in 1997 and one of the few Labour MPs to lose in 2001, now sits on Havering Council.

Keen rat fancier Jane Griffiths is teaching English in Latvia and is under investigation back in Britain for an unpaid £29,000 tax bill. The first Labour MP to be deselected this century when the good activists of Reading East dispensed with her services in 2005, Griffiths would anyway have been disqualified from taking her seat after the Inland Revenue had her declared bankrupt. Although she's a former linguist at the GCHQ spy centre, tuition on the Baltic coast is an unexpected career turn. Her "janestheone" blog declares she is pro-democracy and "I also love life and fun". Recent posts include unheeded advice to Blair to sack Brown but it is mainly a means of taunting, from a distance, the muscular politics of Reading West's Martin Salter. Whatever.

The malfunctioning new Labour android Helen Clark (née Brinton), a drinking buddy of Jane Griffiths in the Strangers' Bar, offered her services as a "consultant" to Labour MPs after last year's defeat in Peterborough. She has earned a reputation - fairly or unfairly - of ringing m'learned friends when anything critical is written about her, which must mean a high telephone bill. Or not. Clark thought of burning all her clothes after losing until she realised that, out of work, she couldn't afford new ones. She quit Labour and was to join the Tories if Ken Clarke won the leadership, but the curse of Clark (née Brinton) struck again. Or not. Former colleagues generally consider her to be as mad as a box of frogs. Or not.

The controversial London Underground part-privatisation PPP enables Lawrie Quinn, toppled in Scarborough and Whitby last May, to earn a crust as something called a "senior delivery manager". The former Railtrack engineer - who nearly missed the 1997 Queen's Speech when ordered to put on an orange jacket and inspect a north London bridge because he was still working three months' notice after unexpectedly winning the seat - is back on the tools with the Tube Lines consortium. When I bumped into Quinn at a ticket barrier, he was disappointed to hear that I'd noticed no improvements, despite his best efforts. If I used modernised Wembley Park Tube station, said Quinn, then I'd know it was better. Quite.

John Cryer, once of Hornchurch, now of Transport House and the T&G, has more clout in the looming Labour leadership battle, as the still-influential union's political commissar, than he would as a humble backbencher. Cryer's hard labour in the union world started with a stint at Aslef, until the train drivers' thirsty culture proved too much for his liver. In fact, I'd swear I've seen more of him in the Commons since he left than when he was there by right. Surely he can't be seat-hunting? Oh yes, he can!

Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

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