The weird and the wonderful

Here are ten Labour MPs you might not yet have heard about, but almost certainly will. Among the new

Naming her son Clement, now aged three, in honour of Attlee is public proof indeed of Mary Creagh's devotion to Labour history. One of only two of the 2005 intake to win a place in this year's Private Member's Bill ballot (the other was Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who is really a retread), she has chosen to champion school dinner ladies, which reflects her love of cooking. The sparky Wakefield MP's Children's Food Bill is ruffling ministerial feathers by demanding improvements way beyond those promised by head girl Ruth Kelly. Thrown off balance when she spotted her old English teacher Terry in the audience at one campaign meeting, Creagh asked him to see her afterwards. A former lecturer and Labour group leader on Islington Council, she is fluent in French and Italian - which Terry probably can't take much credit for. And she admitted in her online blog: "I am not a fan of the monarchy."

The first ever female MP for muscular Hull similarly pays her respects to the party's past. Diana Johnson is the proud possessor of a black Labrador called George, named after that celebrated former head of Poplar Council and party leader, Mr G Lansbury. The honourable member for the Humberside city's North constituency is yet another parliamentary barrister and former member of the London Assembly who worked as a legal officer for the Sir Humphreys' trade union, the First Division Association. Colleagues can be heard complaining that she is a touch too sensible, though the presence of punchy Prezza as a neighbour is enough to persuade any bright up-and-coming politico to hide (at least, in the early days) her or his light under a cornfield - never mind a bushel.

David Anderson is a shrewd cookie and possibly the last miner to be elected to the House of Commons as the party becomes irredeemably middle class. He was advised by a Labour nincompoop to play down his trade-union background to avoid frightening the voters. The wine-sipping official could never have downed a pint in unremittingly working-class Blaydon, and Anderson, arrested as a flying picket and held overnight in police cells during the tumultuous 1984-85 pit strike, chose to ignore the chinless wonder. Anderson retrained as a care worker after being made redundant from the now long gone Murton Colliery in County Durham, and swiftly rose through Unison's ranks to become president. He has not given up hope of reviving Labour as the People's Party and runs with the Campaign Group, though he has not formally joined it. He is also fearless, using Prime Minister's Questions to taunt Tony Blair after Sedgefield council tenants voted against transferring to a housing association. The PM was not amused.

Jess (as she is known to her friends) Morden is described as "Pat McFadden with attitude", a reference to her ex-boyfriend, a former Downing Street helper who is another new arrival on the green leather benches. Morden, a Blairite former general secretary of the Welsh Labour Party, won Newport East after the local party fortuitously chose her as its candidate from an all-women shortlist.

A formidable organiser, Morden successfully ensured that all the winnable seats falling vacant in Wales were filled by sisters, breaking a boyo stranglehold that had dominated for a hundred years. The one significant setback was Blaenau Gwent, where another Blairite, Maggie Jones, was rejected at the polls in favour of the independent Labour figure Peter Law, who was recovering from brain tumour surgery. A fondness for mountain biking and visiting the gym also marks her out from previous Labour MPs from the Valleys. But as a fan of Asbos, she almost certainly regrets never finding an excuse to slap one on Law.

Her smiley, Avon lady approach belies this ruthless machine operator, dubbed another of Stalin's grannies. A future in the whips' office beckons.

Ian Austin enjoys a lower profile than the Chancellor's Eds, but is a key figure in Gordon Brown's shadow cabinet. He gave up Treasury spin-doctoring for surgeries in his home town, Dudley - where he was adopted at birth and brought up - after quietly improving Big Gordie's image by avoiding the limelight courted by his predecessor, Charlie Whelan. A slight Black Country accent has allowed him to get one over on metropolitan snobs more times than he cares to let them know. A former Dudley councillor and West Midlands Labour press officer, he shares the Chancellor's love of football and is an Aston Villa season ticket holder. Brown was much amused by the cycling fanatic's lung-bursting races against the clock to and from the Treasury and his temporary south London home. Austin's best for the 12 potholed miles was 36 minutes.

Another Treasury type heavily tipped to make her mark is Helen Goodman. A former mandarin charged with looking after the nation's finances, she privately admits that she struggles to submit her own tax returns on time. A suspect in a leak inquiry during Ken Clarke's Tory chancellorship, Goodman is already on the prestigious public accounts committee, and her razor-sharp mind intimidates all except the Sudoku set. Blocked by party numskulls for the selection in Chesterfield in 2001 - a large factor in the loss of the seat to the Lib Dems - the Children's Society do-gooder beat the Blair-backed No 10 aide Liz Lloyd and a local lass, Mo "ex-Mrs Milburn" O'Toole, to take the Bishop Auckland seat, adjoining Sedgefield.

Within a fortnight of arriving at Westminster, Sadiq Khan was invited not once but twice to chat with Home Office ministers, worried about his doubts over identity cards. The Tooting MP has made less noise than the Dewsbury MP, Shahid Malik, a fellow Muslim, but is expected to go further. A human rights lawyer who co-founded Christian Khan Solicitors with the government irritant Louise Christian, Khan was chair of Liberty for three years and advised the Muslim Council of Britain. Since the 7 July bombings he has been in and out of Downing Street, where No 10 officials are disconcerted by his independent streak and defence of civil liberties as Tony Blair prepares to introduce internment without trial. Khan will become a significant public figure, though the football- and cricket-playing MP is looking after his backyard. He recently organised a competition to find the best curry house in Tooting.

Katy Clark is a malcontent who will make a name for herself as a rebel, and has already voted against the Identity Cards Bill on the second reading. To the despair of the Labour whips, she also joined the serial troublemakers in the Campaign Group. A few champagne corks popped at Unison when their legal officer was selected in North Ayrshire and Arran. Clark's occasionally abrasive manner is not everyone's cup of tea, yet few would dare say that to her face. (Memo to Clark: I'm only writing what I have heard.) Another lefty advocate of human rights, and therefore someone Blair won't be welcoming.

Niece of Virginia Bottomley (the Tory who tried so hard to be nice) and one-time special adviser to Nurse (Patricia) Hewitt when she was at the DTI, Kitty Ussher is a well-connected student of power. Her current priority, however, is to cajole her daughter into believing bottle is best when Mummy has to vote. Eight months pregnant when she became Burnley's first female MP, a breastfeeding Ussher discovered the men in tights wouldn't allow her to carry Lizzie into the division lobby after she gave birth to the bairn.

Ussher was forced to hand the girl over at the Aye door - she's a loyalist - and collect her on the way out. An online diary on the Guardian website gives us a glimpse behind the door of the lady members' room. Apparently, there is one bed for 127 female MPs, suggesting either a long queue or a substantial crush.

There's a touch of the Tessa Jowells about that arch-Blairite networker Anne "Goody Two Shoes" Snelgrove, which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on whether you eat lunch or dinner at midday. Snelgrove (think more Felicity Kendal than Pam Ferris in Rosemary and Thyme) is a former teacher, education adviser, toiler for Barbara Follett and Amicus activist who landed in South Swindon after a long march round the constituencies of England. She's vice-chair of Labour's National Policy Forum and a keen gardener said to be deft at detecting which way the wind is blowing, a handy skill in Westminster.

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

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 26 September 2005 issue of the New Statesman, Vote Brown: get Blair!