Okay, let’s start with the name. ‘Cameron’s cuties’ was an objectionable term - an even more patronising version of ‘Blair’s babes’. I suspect it would never make it into the headlines today, given the cringe factor, but back in 2009 it was everywhere – particularly when David Cameron flirted with forcing some associations to select using All-Women Shortlists. I’d hope and expect that this time round female candidates will just be known as, well, female candidates.
Six years is a long time in politics, so we thought we’d take a look back at the so-called ‘cuties’ to find out where they are now. There were a variety of different definitions at the time – indeed, the term was often used to grouse about Cameron and/or female politicians without actually naming anyone in particular - but the Mail on Sunday seems to have made the most comprehensive attempt to produce a list of who they meant. On 24th October 2009 they listed 80 female Tories under the heading.
In an attempt to reach that nice, round total of 80 they also included 13 sitting Tory MPs such as Cheryl Gillan, Theresa May and Nadine Dorries, who can’t exactly be said to be Cameron’s anything, so let’s exclude them and focus on the remaining 67. They were divided into those standing in ‘easily winnable’ seats, those contesting marginal seats, those in seats that would require a larger swing and, finally, a selection of 15 ‘frontrunner’ candidates who at that point had yet to be selected for a constituency.
So where are they now? As we will see, 33 made it into the Commons, 22 were defeated and 12 weren’t selected in 2010. Since then, two of the new MPs have risen to become Secretaries of State, while several others have more junior roles in the Government. One MP has already resigned from Parliament (and left the country), while three others are standing down in May.
Of those who didn’t win a seat on the green benches, one has become a UKIP MEP, one a Tory Police Commissioner, two are Welsh Assembly Members and a number of others are candidates for the 2015 General Election.
Candidates in ‘easily winnable’ seats
Helen Grant – MP for Maidstone, and currently Minister for Sport and Tourism.
Andrea Leadsom – MP for South Northamptonshire, she is now Economic Secretary to the Treasury.
Rebecca Harris – MP for Castle Point.
Priti Patel – MP for Witham and Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.
Pauline Latham – MP for Mid Derbyshire.
Harriet Baldwin – MP for West Worcestershire and Government Whip.
Esther McVey – MP for Wirral West and Minister of State for Employment.
Sarah Wollaston – MP for Totnes and Chair of the Health Select Committee.
Karen Bradley – MP for Staffordshire Moorlands and Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime.
Elizabeth Truss – MP for South West Norfolk and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Laura Sandys – MP for South Thanet. She is standing down at the coming election.
Maggie Throup – defeated by 175 votes in Solihull in 2010. She is now the Conservative candidate for Erewash (which is being vacated by Jessica Lee, another member of this list).
Candidates in marginal seats
Penny Mordaunt – MP for Portsmouth North and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in DCLG.
Caroline Nokes – MP for Romsey and Southampton North and a PPS in DWP.
Jane Ellison – MP for Battersea and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health.
Angie Bray – MP for Ealing Central and Acton.
Amber Rudd – MP for Hastings and Rye, and a Minister in DECC.
Margot James – MP for Stourbridge.
Louise Bagshawe – elected as MP for Corby, she stepped down in 2012. She is now a Sun on Sunday columnist and lives in the USA.
Nicky Morgan – MP for Loughborough and Secretary of State for Education.
Anna Soubry – MP for Broxtowe and Minister of State for Defence.
Karen Lumley – MP for Redditch.
Lorraine Fullbrook – MP for South Ribble. She will be standing down at the General Election.
Heather Wheeler – MP for South Derbyshire.
Charlotte Leslie – MP for Bristol North West, and ConservativeHome columnist.
Tracey Crouch – MP for Chatham and Aylesford.
Mary Macleod – MP for Brentford and Isleworth.
Sarah Newton – MP for Truro and Falmouth, and a Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.
Anne Marie Morris – MP for Newton Abbot.
Sheryll Murray – MP for South East Cornwall.
Susan Williams – defeated. Now Baroness Williams of Trafford and a Government Whip in the Lords.
Suzy Davies – defeated. Now representing South Wales West in the Welsh Assembly.
Julia Mulligan – defeated. Now serving as North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.
Flick Drummond – defeated. Standing again in Portsmouth South this year.
Maria Hutchings – defeated (and defeated again in the Eastleigh by-election). She has now left the Conservative Party.
Wendy Morton – defeated. She was recently a finalist in the South Leicestershire selection.
Sian Flynn – defeated. Recently longlisted in Havant.
Annunziata Rees-Mogg – defeated.
Deirdre Allen – defeated.
Philippa Stroud – defeated.
Joanne Cash – defeated.
Brenda Porter – defeated.
Deborah Dunleavy – defeated.
Debi Jones – defeated.
Candidates needing a big poll lead to win
Jackie Doyle-Price – MP for Thurrock.
Jessica Lee – MP for Erewash and PPS to the Attorney General. She is standing down at the coming election.
Antoinette Sandbach – defeated. Now representing North Wales in the Welsh Assembly.
Janice Small – defeated. Now a UKIP MEP for the South East of England.
Rachel Joyce – defeated. Recently shortlisted in the Banbury selection.
Caroline Righton – defeated.
Hannah Foster – defeated.
Keely Huxtable – defeated.
‘Frontrunner’ would-be candidates
Fiona Bruce – MP for Congleton.
Therese Coffey – MP for Suffolk Coastal.
Charlotte Vere – selected for Brighton Pavilion, but defeated by Caroline Lucas of the Green Party. She was shortlisted for Havant last October.
Christine Emmett – not selected. She unsuccessfully fought the Corby by-election sparked by Louise Mensch’s resignation in 2012, and was a finalist for South Leicestershire in December.
Zehra Zaidi – not selected. She was recently a finalist in the Bury St Edmunds selection.
Nini Adetuberu – not selected.
Margaret Doyle – not selected.
Mimi Harker – not selected.
Fiona Kemp – not selected.
Sheila Lawlor – not selected.
Katy Lindsay – not selected.
Julia Manning – not selected.
Merryn Myatt – not selected.
Sara Randall Johnson – not selected.
Pamela Singleton – not selected.