The Conservative Commons intake of 2015

by Paul Goodman and Henry Hill

Executive Summary

The new generation of Conservative MPs has -

  • More Parliamentary novices: Almost half of those in “safe” seats have never fought one before – a revolutionary development.
  • More women: The proportion of women Conservative MPs has risen from just under a quarter in the 2010 intake to over a third in this one.
  • More lawyers: The percentage is almost a quarter in this intake, compared to under a fifth in the entire 2010 Parliamentary Party.
  • Fewer state school educated people – on the evidence available.  The declared proportion of state-educated people in the 2010 intake was just over 50 per cent; that of the 2015 intake is 34 per cent.
  • More ethnic minorities – but in safe seats only, which raises questions about the depth of change: six of the 30 in “safe” seats, and one replacing a 2010 retiree, is an ethnic minority member.  But of the 37 MPs who won seats from opponents, not one is identifiably from an ethnic minority background.
  • More people with public sector experience – but mostly in seats won from opponents, which raises questions about whether the change will last more than one Parliament.  Only three of the 30 candidates in “safe” seats have worked in the public sector for any significant period.  But of the 37, no fewer than 19 have some experience of public employment.  So that’s one in ten compared to half.
  • Over two in five work in London: the new intake is capital-centric…
  • But only about one in ten have worked for the Party or MPs (much the same as in 2010): so the new intake it not Westminster-centric.
  • A bumper crop of former councillors. Over three in five have local government experience.
  • Over a quarter are self-made business people.
  • Almost three-quarters are married.

Our snapshot take:

“On the surface, this intake looks different from those that have preceded it. Different, because a majority of its members haven’t fought a seat before. Different, because the proportion of women is significantly higher than in 2010. Different because the proportion of ethnic minorities is higher, too. But beneath the surface, this is in many ways a very traditional Tory intake.”

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Introduction – a post-government intake

CAMERON'S CHILDREN bigTalented intakes of new Conservative MPs tend to enter the Commons after the Party has been in opposition – whether lengthily or briefly.

The 1950 general election brought Edward Heath, Ian Macleod, Reggie Maudling and Enoch Powell into the House. 1979 saw John Major, the two Pattens (Chris and John) and William Waldegrave arrive. Five years ago, Robert HalfonSajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom, Jesse Norman, Dominic Raab and Elizabeth Truss came in, along with many others.

So what does the coming tranche of new Tory MPs – which follows a term by the Party not in opposition but government – look like?  How does it compare with those post-opposition intakes?

There are two current narratives about this new Conservative Parliamentary generation.

The first is that it consists of more Eton-and-Bullingdon graduates with a background as special advisers. This might be called the Labour narrative.

The second is that it is made up of Notting Hill-dwelling, privately educated Cameroon loyalists with a background as special advisers. This could be called the UKIP narrative.

The reality is more complex and interesting. In May, ConservativeHome published its analysis of 30 candidates selected for safe seats who would almost certainly become MPs. Our definition of such a seat was any that the Tories had held in 2005.  It can’t be a bad one, since all of them duly went on to win in May.

Today, we’re updating that study with 44 new subjects – those 37 new MPs who captured their seats from other parties and the seven who defended seats first won in 2010, and are thus in a position to assess the intake as a whole in this essay.

As before, we have gone for simplicity in order to establish some central facts: family, education, occupation, local government experience, national experience, and a snapshot of anything else that seems to us especially noteworthy.

The Conservatives of 2015 – Ten points to watch

  • A novice-packed intake.

Almost half of the 30 candidates we originally surveyed had not fought a constituency before – 14 in all: Heidi Allen (South Cambridgeshire), Victoria Atkins (Louth and Horncastle), Victoria Borwick (Kensington), Jo Churchill (Bury St Edmunds), Oliver Dowden (Hertsmere), Lucy Frazer (South East Cambridgeshire), Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton), Ranil Jayawardena (North-East Hampshire), David Mackintosh (Northampton South), Alan Mak (Havant), Victoria Prentis (Banbury), Rishi Sunak (Richmond), Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling) and Matt Warman (Boston and Skegness).

Of the seven new MPs who defended seats first won in 2010, four have fought seats before (although Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet) had only ever done so as an Independent or UKIP candidate).

Amongst the new intake this trend is even more pronounced: of the 37 Tories who took seats from other parties in May, only 11 had previously fought one – and of these, seven were re-standing in the same constituency as 2010. So of the 74 winners, over half – 44 in total – haven’t contested an election before.

By recent standards, this is revolutionary - at least as far as the “safe” seats are concerned. The traditional pattern was for candidates to be “blooded” in the safe seats of other parties, before finding selection in a Tory heartland constituency.  Even in 2010, “most of the newcomers had fought seats before“.

Essentially, the pace of politics is speeding up.  To have a background of contesting a seat – to have been tested under fire, so to speak – was once seen as an advantage. Now it is as likely not to be so.

Having a record of office in the voluntary Party, too, is not necessarily required.  Frazer is a former Deputy Chairman of Hampstead Conservatives.  Nusrat Ghani (Wealden) has held the same post elsewhere. Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle), Wendy Morton (Aldridge Brownhills) and Warman are former Association Chairmen. But some of the intake, such as Sunak and Tugendhat, come new to Party politics.

Of the second group some, such as Kevin Foster (Torbay), Luke Hall (Thornbury and Yate), Peter Heaton-Jones (North Devon), Ben Howlett (Bath), Tom Pursglove (Corby), Amanda Solloway (Derby North), and Michael Tomlinson (Mid-Dorset and North Poole) stand out as party activists, but many others come either from issues-based campaigns or outside politics.

For example: Lucy Allan (Telford) launched the Family First campaign against injustice in the child protection system; Maria Caulfield (Lewes) came to the Party after a campaign to save local hospitals; Julian Knight (Solihull) was a campaigning consumer journalist; and Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed) campaigned on local roads.

  • A post-expenses scandal generation.

“Heidi [Allen] is not a career politician”…”My life’s story is not one of a traditional politician” (Ghani)…”I am not a career politician” (Frazer).

You get the picture. The after-shock of the expenses earthquake rumbles on. It is playing a part in the increasing willingness of associations to select untried candidates: voters are becoming nervous of the smell of the Westminster Village.

And it is this newness to Parliamentary politics, too, that those candidates want to project. Both they and others are making as much of their interests and activities as possible.

James Cartlidge (South Suffolk) is a volunteer ‘dragon’ to the homelessness charity St Mungos’ Broadway. Mak served until recently as president of Magic Breakfast.  Philip set up a charity “to help young people reach their potential”.  Morton is a social action veteran.

The same pattern is visible in our new subjects. Michelle Donelan (Chippenham) is proud to boast that: “I have never had a “job” in politics. I have always worked for my money in a “real job”.

Meanwhile, several make prominent mention of their charitable and social action work: Tomlinson has been to Rwanda and Sierra Leone with the Party’s Project Umabano; Derek Thomas (St Ives) founded and runs a youth activity project; Caulfield sits on the board of a local homelessness charity, Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam) volunteers at St Helier hospital, and David Warburton (Somerton and Frome) founded the musical charity Pulse.

Conservatives have always been active in the voluntary sector, but there is a stress on new projects involving the candidates themselves.  The message is: we’re different from the politicians you’re used to.

  • More women candidates and MPs…

Downing Street and CCHQ wanted more women and ethnic minority members – not least to fend off a London media fascinated by their representation in the Commons to the point of obsession.

Their preferred means has not been the frontal assault of the A-list but by the flanking manoeuvre of suggestion, recommendation and sometimes – in the sense in which Wolsey uses the word in “A Man for all Seasons” – “pressure”.

The result is that 11 of the 30 original candidates we examined are women – just over a third.

They are: Allen, Atkins, Borwick, Churchill, Suella Fernandes (Fareham), Frazer, Ghani, Morton, Prentis, Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury) and Helen Whateley (Faversham and Mid-Kent).  Of these, Fernandes, Ghani, Morton, Sandbach and Whately have previously contested seats.  So six of the 14 rookie candidates were female.

Three of those who defended seats first won in 2010 – Seema Kennedy (South Ribble), Amanda Milling (Cannock Chase), and Maggie Throup (Erewash) – are women.

Of those who captured seats in the election, the proportion remains much the same with 13 out of 37 being women: Allan, Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne), Caulfield, Mims Davies (Eastleigh), Donelan, Flick Drummond (Portsmouth South), Andrea Jenkyns (Morley and Outwood), Tania Mathias (Twickenham), Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane), Mary Robinson (Cheadle), Solloway, Kelly Tolhurst (Rochester and Strood), and Trevelyan, of whom only five (Caulfield, Donelan, Drummond, Tolhurst and Trevelyan) had fought seats before.

This brings the total to 27 out of 74, or about 36 per cent. This is a significant rise on the 35 out of 148 new Tory MPs in the 2010 Parliament – 24 per cent. In short, the proportion of women Conservative MPs has risen from just under a quarter to over a third.

  • ...And ethnic minority ones – in the safe seats, at any rate

Meanwhile six of the 30 in the safe seats, and one of those replacing 2010 retirees, are members of ethnic minorities.

These are: James Cleverly (Braintree), Fernandes, Ghani, Jayawardena, Mak and Sunak, as well as Kennedy who defended her seat. There is also Alberto Costa (South Leicestershire), whose parents moved to Britain from Italy.

However, of the 37 MPs in our second group not one is identifiably from an ethnic minority background.

But even diluted by the impact of this second tranche of candidates, ethnic minority candidates make up about nine per cent of the new intake, compared to three per cent in 2010.

(There were five new ethnic minority Conservative MPs also in 2010, but out of a new intake of 148 people.)

CCHQ and Downing Street have therefore done well by some measures in diversifying the Party. But they have not done so well on others – as below.

  • …But few public sector workers and people on low wages in safe seats

None of the 30 candidates for safe seats worked full-time in the public sector or appear to have done so for any significant period – other than two of the lawyers, Costa and Prentis, and Tugendhat. None, either, seem to be on low wages.

In the retained marginals only one of the seven has any public sector experience: Throup began her career in an NHS pathology department before moving into business.

This picture mirrors the lack of business experience of Labour MPs and candidates, which Mark Wallace has chronicled (see here and here), and suggests a continuation of the modern phenomenon whereby, in the words of one watcher of the 2010 intake, “The Conservatives’ occupational profile… is overwhelmingly dominated by its business component.”

But it’s a very different story among those who took seats from Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Of the 37, no fewer than 19 have some experience of public employment.

Caulfield, Mathias, and James Davies (Vale of Clwyd) are NHS medical professionals, and Allan has also worked for the Health Service. Johnny Mercer (Plymouth Moor View), James Heappey (Wells) and Royston Smith (Southampton Itchen) were in the Armed Forces. Scott Mann (North Cornwall) was a postman. Ansell, Jenkyns, Warburton, and William Wragg (Hazel Grove) have been teachers. Byron Davies (Gower) was a police officer. Mims Davies, Knight, and Pow have worked for the BBC. Foster has worked in local government, and both James Berry (Kingston and Surbiton) and Tomlinson have worked with the state in the course of their legal careers.

This means more than 50 per cent of Tory gains in May were made by candidates with some public sector experience, and boosts the overall proportion amongst the new MPs examined here to 27 per cent – so over a quarter.

  • Self-made business people.

Of the original 30, Allen, Cartlidge, Simon Hoare (North Dorset), Hollinrake, Kit Malthouse (North-West Hampshire), Morton, Chris Philp (Croydon South) and Sunak are recorded as having set up or managed their own businesses.

This will not be an exclusive list.  Edward Argar (Charnwood), Borwick, Churchill, Cleverly, Nigel Huddleston (Mid-Worcestershire), Jayawardena, Jeremy Quin (Horsham) and Whateley are also in business.  (Jayawardena works in financial services.)

So half of the business people in our first group – at least eight out of 16 – have at some point started their own enterprise.

Overall, over half of the intake in safe seats will work in business  – and there will be almost as many business people who started their own enterprises as there will be women.

Allen’s is a family manufacturing business. Cartlidge’s an affordable housing concern. Hoare is a public relations consultant specialising in property. Hollinrake is the managing director of an estate agency. Morton runs an electronics and manufacturing business with her husband. Philp has managed a range of businesses (including his present financial investment firm). Sunak co-founded an investment firm, and Malthouse was involved in “a number of startups including County Finance Group where he is still Chairman and majority shareholder”.

Of those stepping into the shoes of the class of 2010, Throup and Craig Tracey (North Warwickshire) founded their own businesses whilst Mackinlay and Milling are respectively partner in an accountancy firm and director of a business.

Amongst the second tranche of 37, we find ten who have founded their own businesses: Allan, Donelan, Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay), Marcus Fysh (Yeovil), Pow, Robinson, Scully, Thomas, Tolhurst, and Warburton. These have been in a variety of industries, ranging from accountancy (Robinson) and construction (Thomas) to marine surveying (Tolhurst) by way of media (Pow), public relations (Scully), and property and music (Warburton, who is a serial entrepreneur).

This puts self-made business people at 27 per cent of those who took seats from other parties and, at 20 out of 74, 27 per cent of all candidates here examined too – over a quarter.

  • The return of the lawyers. Is law the new PPE?

No fewer than eight of the original 30 are lawyers – almost one in four, a higher proportion than in the 2010 cohort. There will thus be almost as many lawyers as women in the new intake.

No fewer than five of the seven women are lawyers or, to be more specific, barristers: Atkins, Fernandes, Fraser (who is a QC), Prentis, and Sandbach. Meanwhile Costa and Mak are solicitors and Merriman leads the team of lawyers that is winding up Lehman Brothers. Nor does the legal connection end there, since Dowden read law at University.

Meanwhile, of the second group four of the 37 worked in law directly – a much lower proportion. Berry, Tomlinson and Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) as barristers, and Will Quince (Colchester) as a solicitor, whilst Allan, Foster and Robinson all studied Law.

By contrast, only three of the original 30, and none of the second group, appear to have read PPE – Huddleston, Sunak and Whateley. (Mackintosh read politics at Durham.)

The second group is likewise well furnished with history and politics graduates but features not a single readily-apparent PPE degree, whilst none of those who replaced retiring memers of the Class of 2010 have studied or worked in law full time (although Mackinlay has a qualification enabling him to perform some work ordinarily performed by solicitors.

That leaves 16 per cent of the new MPs examined here as working directly in law, rising to 23 per cent if those with a legal education are included. In 2010 only 18 per cent of the entire Parliamentary Party – 56 MPs – were lawyers. Is law the new PPE?

It is a myth that the Conservative benches are crammed with lawyers – pushing off each morning to the courts before dawdling into the Commons during the late afternoons. Indeed, the departure of Dominic Grieve from the Government at the last reshuffle left it decidedly thin on senior lawyers. The 2015 intake from the safe seats especially will go some way to fill the gap.

Establishing where the new intake was educated isn’t easy – in some cases, there is little information to hand. And finding out which sector isn’t always straightforward, either, since some people transfer from one to the other. For example, Mak was educated both in the state and private sectors.

  • Fewer state-school educated new MPs – on the evidence available.

Of those in safe seats 13 out of 30 at least - Argar, Cartlidge, Dowden, Fernandes, Ghani, Huddleston, Jayawardena, Mackintosh, Mak, Malthouse, Merriman, Morton and Philp – were all wholly or largely schooled in the state sector.

Cartlidge’s, Dowden’s, Huddleston’s, Mackintosh’s and Ghani’s schools were comprehensives, Jayawardena’s and Malthouse’s are now academies, Philp was at a grammar, and Merriman at a non-grammar in selective Buckinghamshire.

Of the defenders, two out of seven can be explicitly identified as having been state educated: Mackinlay attended a state grammar, and Tracey a comprehensive.

Of those who won seats from other parties, 11 are readily identifiable as having been state school-educated: Byron Davies, Chris Davies (Brecon and Radnorshire), Foster, Hall, Howlett, Mann, Pursglove, Solloway, Tolhurst, Warburton and Wragg. A further five – Berry, Chalk, Heappey, Mathias, and Mercer – were definitely educated privately.

The proportion of state-educated people in the 2010 intake was just over 50 per cent, which helped cut the proportion of privately-educated Tory MPs in the last Parliament to just 53 per cent; the declared proportion of the 2015 intake is 34 per cent, but rises to 43 per cent amongst those chosen for safe seats.

All in safe seats are recorded as having studied at University level, although the second group contains some who didn’t. The Oxbridge presence remains strong.  Argar, Hoare, Huddleston, Johnson, Philp and Sunak are the Oxford contingent; Atkins, Dowden, Frazer and Mak the Cambridge one. Only three who captured their seats fall into this category: Chalk, Fysh, and Mathias all attended Oxford.

All this continues trends identified in the Class of 2010, when it was noted that “the Conservatives’ alleged elitism is clearly in steep decline” due to the lowest-ever proportion of Etonian MPs and the slowly waning influence of Oxbridge.

P.S: There are no old Etonians in the intake as far as we can see. Well, no male Old Etonians, at any rate: Borwick turns out to be the beneficiary of an admissions experiment at the school with female pupils during the 1970s.

  • Most are married.

26 out of the original 30, in fact, along with five of the seven who replaced retiring 2010 MPs and 23 of the additional 37. This comes to 73 per cent of the 2015 intake, and 87 per cent of those in safe seats. We have found only one reference to a partner. When it comes to family life, this is a very conservative intake.

Having a second household income will come in very useful – which will often though not invariably be the case.  MPs are in the top three per cent of earners.  But many members of the new intake – almost certainly most – will be taking a pay cut to enter the Commons.

That Prentis’s husband is also at the bar, for example, or that Allen’s family business is now being run by her husband, helps to demonstrate how the intake will adapt family finances to cope with income cuts and constraints on outside earnings.

This also suggests that the strain Parliamentary life can put on marriage – during the last Parliament the divorce rate for MPs was estimated at one and a half times the national average - is not drawing in a higher proportion of single people.

  • Locality matters – but so does London.

We have not tried to draw too many conclusions about who is and isn’t a local candidate.  To do so would be very subjective – and, as sifting committees in different places know, some candidates are deft at finding local connections in unexpected places.

But as Orwell nearly wrote, all candidates are local, but some candidates are more local than others. Look at Jayawardena in North-East Hampshire, solidly embedded as the Deputy Leader of Basingstoke and Dean District Council. Or Hollinrake in Thirsk and Malton, “born and brought up in the constituency”.  Or the solitary case of the Special Adviser who’s made it to a safe seat - Dowden in Hertsmere, who was “born in Park Street, just outside Radlett”.

Most of the new MPs who defended 2010 gains also emphasised their local connections: Kennedy grew up in the Ribble Valley; Mackinlay was a councillor in a nearby district; Tracey owned a local business; Craig Williams (Cardiff North) was a two-term Cardiff councillor; and Mike Wood (Dudley South) boasted of having lived locally since he was a toddler.

Amongst those who took seats from other parties – and there may be a lesson here – the trend is even more pronounced. Double, Mann and Thomas are all born and bred in Cornwall, and the three Welsh winners – Byron, Christopher and James Davies, no relation – all boast lifelong connections to their seats. Tolhurst grew up in Rochester and Strood and claims she’d never want to represent another seat. Chalk’s family have lived in Cheltenham since the War. Locality can help.

None the less, the test that most Associations have applied is the best one: will this person make a good MP or not? Churchill in Bury St Edmunds is a Lincolnshire councillor. Cleverly in Braintree sits as a member of the London Assembly. Boris Johnson (Uxbridge) is taking a relaxed view about having a home in his seat.

But most other new arrivals are keen to let their constituents know that they will soon be moving in.

Talking of Cleverly and the Mayor, the 2015 intake looks decidedly London-focused – work-wise, anyway. By our count, the best part of 23 of the 30 in safe seats either live or work in the capital.

By way of illustration, Jayawardena and Merriman may both be local councillors in the Home Counties, but both commute into London to work. Prentice lead the Treasury Solictor’s Justice and Security team. Her seat is in Oxfordshire.

This trend is much less pronounced amongst those who captured new seats, or defended seats won in 2010: at least 25 out of 44 seem to work primarily or entirely outside the capital.

On the basis of those estimates, at least 34 out of 74 – 46 per cent – of new Tory MPs are Londoners in at least one sense, despite the party’s relative weakness in the capital.

  • The decline of special advisers…

Apart from Dowden, who is David Cameron’s Deputy Chief of Staff, not one has made it to date in the “safe” seats. And CCHQ experience at a senior level is thin on the ground.

Of the remaining safe seat MPs: Argar worked as an adviser to Michael Ancram when the latter was was Deputy Leader of the Party and Shadow Foreign Secretary; Cartlidge worked in the Conservative Research Department and helped to prepare Iain Duncan Smith for Prime Minister’s Questions; and Mackintosh has CCHQ, or rather Central Office, experience. But that’s about it.

Of the seven defenders one, Wood, is a special advisor at Westminster whilst Williams was a researcher at the Welsh Assembly, and in the 37 new seats only Foster (who worked for an MEP), Heappey (researcher for Liam Fox) and Pursglove (who worked for MPs Peter Bone and Chris Heaton Harris) stand out as having formal experience with the Party at Westminster.

Thus even if we adopt the broadest definition of insider experience, only nine of the 74 new Tories on the green benches qualify – 12 per cent, compared to 12 per cent of the 2010 intake classed as professional politicians – “party staffers, MPs researchers and ministerial aides” – in Total Politics.

This is a significant turnaround, especially compared to the steady increase of such MPs at every election during the Blair years.

One explanation is simply that Associations are reacting against special advisers and won’t select them. Another is that the nature of special advisers itself is changing, that fewer now harbour political ambitions – and that only a small number are consequently on the candidates’ list in the first place.

  • …and the rise of councillors

If you count Boris as a sort of uber-councillor, then half the new intake in the “safe” seats either are or have been elected to posts in local government. (The Mayor of London is, strictly speaking, a 2001 retread. But since he is returning to the Commons we have counted him in.)

Allen, Argar, Borwick, Cartlidge, Churchill, Cleverly, Hoare, Huddleston, Jayawardena, Johnson, Mackintosh, Philp, Malthouse, Merriman and Morton – all are or have been councillors, and these last two have also been Association Chairmen.

As Boris’s Deputy Mayors, Borwick and Malthouse are particularly senior figures in local government.

Of the 37 who captured their seats, only 11 have no local government experience. Two of the 26 who do are two former members of the Welsh Assembly and one is a one-time Mayor of St Austell. Smith led Southampton Council, whilst Quince and Scully were each leader of a Tory group. Pursglove became the UK’s youngest councillor in 2007 at the age of 18.

Five of the seven who replaced new MPs from 2010 have local government experience: Mackinlay, Milling, Tracey, Williams and Wood.

This means that of the 74 new Tory MPs no fewer than 47 – 64 per cent – have local government experience, including 70 per cent of those who won new seats for the Party.

The ranks of the 2015 intake will be packed with people capable of serving as Local Government ministers. Associations may have kept professional politicians at arms length. But they have embraced local councillors with open arms.

  • Where is the Left and Right?

Huddleston is a long-standing member of the Tory Reform Group, Philp has described himself as a Thatcherite, and Mathias openly champions a smaller state. But such political self-identification is rare in the coming intake.

Why? The main reason is the intense concentration on the intake’s websites and in their proclamations about local issues.

Dowden says he will fight to save green belt land. Sunak’s priorities include the Friarage Hospital and better broadband, Ansell emphasises local school standards, and James Davies wants to revitalise the rural economy in local villages. Tugendhat responds on his website to the Scottish Referendum result – but his article is a call for more local democracy than an old-fashioned essay on the future of the constitution.

New candidates digging in to their patches is nothing new. But what is striking is the relative absence of proclamations about national policy. To choose an example almost at random, none of the candidates has anything to say on their websites to date about the main threat to national security: Islamist extremism.

However, several of those who took seats from other parties - most notably Ansell, Berry, Mathias and Wragg – did emphasise one national policy issue in particular: education.


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The thirty original candidates

Edward Argar

ARGAR EdwardConstituencyCharnwood.

Family: Parents were teachers. Some other family members were hop farmers or served in the armed forces.

Education: “My local state school” and Oxford University, where he read history.

Work: Businessman – “working in a range of corporate and commercial roles in private sector businesses including Hedra, Serco, and infrastructure firm Mouchel”.

Councillor: Yes - Westminster councillor and Cabinet Member for City Management, Transport and Infrastructure.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – fought Oxford East in 2010.

Snapshot: Worked as an adviser to Michael Ancram when the latter was Deputy Leader of the Party and Shadow Foreign Secretary.


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Heidi Allen

Heidi AllenConstituencySouth Cambridgeshire.

Education: University College, London, where she read physics.

Family: Married to Phil.

Work: Businesswoman – managing director of family manufacturing business.  Her husband has now taken the role over.

Councillor: Yes - former councillor on St Albans City and District Council.

Former Parliamentary candidate: No.

Snapshot: “[I] hadn’t even considered becoming an MP until she witnessed the scenes of the Tottenham riots in 2011.”


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Victoria Atkins

Victoria AtkinsConstituencyLouth and Horncastle.

Education: Cambridge University, where she read law.

Family: Married to Paul, the Managing Director of a food company, and has one son, Monty.

Work: Barrister – specialising in prosecuting serious organised crime.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary candidate: No.

Snapshot: Raised in Blackpool – “I was the first member of my family to go to university.”


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Victoria Borwick

Borwick Victoria 2Constituency: Kensington

Education: – .

Family: Married to Jamie (Baron Borwick), and has three sons and a daughter.

Work: Statutory Deputy Mayor of London.

Councillor: Yes – former Kensington and Chelsea councillor, and is Member of the London Assembly.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Former events manager in the corporate and art worlds. Has twice stood to be the Conservative Mayoral candidate, coming second in 2008 to Boris Johnson.


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James Cartlidge

James CartlidgeConstituencySouth Suffolk.

Education: Queen Elizabeth School, Barnet (then a comprehensive) Manchester University, where he read economics.

Family: Married to Emily, the daughter of Sir Gerald Howarth, and has four children.

Work: Businessman – founder and director of Share to Buy, “a ’one stop shop’ for affordable housing…for first time buyers.”

Councillor: Yes – on Babergh District Council.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – fought Lewisham Deptford in 2005.

Snapshot: Worked in the Conservative Research Department, wrote editorials for the Daily Telegraph.


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Jo Churchill

Jo ChurchillConstituencyBury St Edmunds

Education: Dame Alice Harper School, Bedford. “As a mature student, Jo has achieved first class degrees at both BSc and MSc level.”

Family: Married with four daughters.

Work: Businesswoman – Finance Director of a scaffolding firm.

Councillor: Yes – on Lincolnshire County Council.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: “Was in retail for both regional and global brands and this led her into site development and the building industry.” Has had first and second primary cancer.


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James Cleverly

CLEVERLY JamesConstituencyBraintree

Education: Colfe’s School and University of West London (Business degree).

Family: Married to Susannah.

Work: Web and print publisher.

Councillor: Yes - London Assembly Member.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – fought Lewisham East in 2005.

Snapshot: Former professional soldier. Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. Territorial Army Officer.


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Alberto Costa

Alberto-CostaConstituencySouth Leicestershire.

Education: Glasgow University.

Family: Married to Maria, a medical scientist, and has two children, Sophie and Alexander.

Work: Solicitor.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes - fought Angus in 2010.

Snapshot: Formerly in Treasury Solicitor’s Department.  “Favourite TV shows - Simpsons, The thick of it, Flash forward, Yes Prime Minister, Have I got news for you and Stricly Come Dancing.”


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Oliver Dowden

Oliver DowdenConstituencyHertsmere.

Education: State comprehensive, and Cambridge University, where he read law.

Family: Married, and has two children, Alice and George.

Work: Currently Deputy Chief of Staff to David Cameron.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Former lobbyist with Hill and Knowlton and LLM, and member of the Conservative Research Department.


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Suella Fernandes

suellaConstituency: Fareham.

Education: “Local state schools”, “a local independent school where I won a scholarship to help with school fees”, Cambridge University (where she read law) and the Sorbonne

Family: “My parents came to this country with very little in the 1960s, from Kenya and Mauritius. Mum was recruited by the NHS and was a nurse for 45years; and Dad worked for a housing association.”

Work: Barrister.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes - fought Leicester East in 2005.

Snapshot: Co-founder, former chair and now trustee of the Africa Justice Foundation (about which she has written for ConHome). Co-founder of the Michaela Community School, a free school in Brent.


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Lucy Frazer

Lucy FrazerConstituency: South East Cambridgeshire.

Education: Cambridge University, where she read law.

Family: Married to David, and has two young children.

Work:  Barrister – specialising in commercial and insolvency work. Queen’s Counsel.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: “The only child in her family to go to university.” Former deputy chair of Hampstead and Kilburn Conservative Association.  One of the youngest QCs in the country.


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Nusrat Ghani

Nusrat GhaniConstituencyWealden.

Education: Bordesley Green Girls School, the University of Central England and Leeds University, where she studied International Relations.

Family: Married to David, and has one daughter, Farah.

Work: Strategic communications director.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – fought Birmingham Ladywood seat in 2010.

Snapshot: Worked in communications for the BBC. Former Association Deputy Chairman. Has worked in an investment bank and for charities – Age UK and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.


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Simon Hoare

simonhoareConstituencyNorth Dorset.

Education: Oxford University, where he read history.

Family: Married to Kate, and has three daughters.

Work: Public Affairs Consultant, specialising in property development.

Councillor: Yes - Oxfordshire County Councillor.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes - fought Cardiff South and Penarth in 2010.

Shapshot: “Runs Community Connect”. “Mercian Developments’ Simon Hoare“.


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Kevin Hollinrake

Kevin HollinrakeConstituencyThirsk and Malton.

Education: Sheffield Hallam University, where he read physics.

Family: Married to Nikky, and has four children.

Work: Estate Agency managing director – co-founded Hunters in 1992.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Was selected to fight Dewsbury for 2010, but resigned as candidate in 2008 to concentrate on his business.

Snapshot: In business since University - “I sold everything from army surplus to mobile phones” – and “in property for the last 25 years”.


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Nigel Huddleston

Nigel HuddlestonConstituencyMid-Worcestershire.

Education:  Robert Pattinson Comprehensive School and Oxford University, where he read PPE.

Family: Married to Melissa, and has two young children, Tyler and Mackenzie.

Work: Industry Head for Travel at Google.

Councillor: Yes - former St Albans District councillor.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – fought Luton South in 2010.

Snapshot: Management Consultant, formerly with Arthur Anderson and Deloitte.  “I was the first person in my family to go to University and the first person from my School to go to Oxford.”


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Ranil Jayawardena

Rani JayawardenaConstituencyNorth-East Hampshire.

Education: Robert May’s School, Alton College, LSE.

Family: Married.

Work: Works in financial services for Lloyds.

Councillor: Yes - Basingstoke and Deane District Councillor, and Deputy Leader of the council.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Freeman of the City of London, Fellow of the RSA, likes watching cricket and tennis.


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Boris Johnson


Education: Eton and Oxford University, where he read classics.

Family: Married to Marina, and has four children, Lara Lettice, Cassia Peaches, Milo Arthur and Theodore Apollo.

Work: Mayor of London.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – indeed, is the former MP for Henley, first winning election in 2001. He fought Clwyd South in 1997.

Snapshot: Journalist.  Former Editor of the Spectator.  Writes weekly column for the Daily Telegraph where he Assistant Editor.  Author – his most recent book is The Churchill Factor.


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David Mackintosh

David MackintoshConstituencyNorthampton South.

Education:  Roade School, and Durham University, where he read politics.

Family: “Born in Northampton and grew up in the county“.

Work: Appears to be a full-time councillor.

Councillor: Yes - Northampton Borough councillor, and Leader of the Council.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: “Previously worked as a political adviser at Conservative Central Office”.  Former
Cabinet member for Community Services on Northamptonshire County Council.


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Alan Mak:

Alan MakConstituencyHavant.

Education: “Local state primary and secondary schools”, then St Peter’s, York, and then Cambridge University, where he read law.

Family: “I was born and grew up in York, where my parents started and ran a small family business (a small high street shop) for 25 years.”

Work:  Solicitor - works for Clifford Chance.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Also serves “as a non-executive director/investor in a range of businesses”. Thatcher admirer.


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Kit Malthouse

Kit Malthouse2ConstituencyNorth-West Hampshire.

Education: Sudley County Primary School, Liverpool College and Newcastle University, where he read Politics and Economics.

Family: Married to Juliana Farha, and has three children.

Work: London Deputy Mayor for Business & Enterprise.

Councillor: Yes - London Assembly Member and former Westminster City councillor.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – fought Liverpool Wavertree in 1997.

Snapshot: Chartered Accountant and businessman. Former Deputy Leader at Westminster. Former London Deputy Mayor for Policing.


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Huw Merriman

huw_MerrimanConstituencyBexhill and Battle.

Education: Buckingham County Secondary School, Aylesbury College, and University College Durham, where he read law.

Family: Married to Victoria, and has three daughters.

Work:  Lawyer – currently Managing Director at Lehman Brothers, charged with leading the team of lawyers who are winding up its estate.

Councillor: Yes - Wealden District Councillor.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – fought North East Derbyshire in 2010.

Snapshot: Association Chairman.  Works in a hobby farming venture.


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Wendy Morton

MORTON WendyConstituencyAldridge Brownhills.

Education: “I went to the local primary and  comprehensive school and I gained a Masters Degree (MBA) with the Open University.”

Family: Married to David.

Work: Businesswoman – runs an electronics and manufacturing business with her husband.

Councillor: Yes – former Richmondshire District Councillor.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes - fought Tynemouth in 2010.

Snapshot: Party Vice-Chairman.  Former Association Chairman.  Former A-lister.


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Chris Philp

Chris PhilpConstituencyCroydon South.

Education: “State Grammar School – St Olave’s in Orpington”, and Oxford University, where he read physics.

Family: Married to Lizzy, and has twins, Kitty and Nicholas.

Work: Businessman – runs financial investment firm.

Councillor: Yes - former Camden councillor.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes - fought Hampstead and Kilburn in 2010.

Snapshot: Set up first business in distribution at 24.  Former Bow Group Chairman.  A “Thatcherite and patriot“.


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Victoria Prentis

Victoria PrentisConstituencyBanbury.

Education: -

Family: Married to Sebastian, and has two daughters.

Work: Barrister – in Treasury Solicitor’s Department, head of the Justice and Security Team.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Father Tim Boswell was MP for Daventry.  Defended the Government in 7/7 inquiry.  Director of anti-HS2 group Transport Sense.


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Jeremy Quin

Jeremy Quin SquareConstituency: Horsham.

Education: St Alban’s School.

Family: Married to Joanna.

Work: Company adviser and banker – worked for Deutsche Bank and was seconded to the Treasury during the financial crisis.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – fought Meirionnydd Nant Conwy in 1997.

Snapshot: School governor, director of local credit union, helped to establish a free school for autistic children, homeless shelter volunteer.


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Antoinette Sandbach

Antoinette SandbachConstituency: Eddisbury

Education: Nottingham University.

Family: Married, and has one daughter.

Work: Barrister.

Councillor: Yes – Regional Member of the Welsh Assembly since 2011. Was Shadow Rural Affairs Minister.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – fought Delwyn in 2010.

Snapshot: Lived on the family farm in North Wales. Was a patron of the Chrysalis charity for a number of years raising money to provide counselling for bereaved parents.


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Rishi Sunak

Rishi SunakConstituencyRichmond.

Education: Winchester College, Oxford University, where he read PPE, and Stanford University.

Family: Married to Akshata, and has two daughters, Krishna and Anoushka.

Work: Businessman – helping “small and entrepreneurial British companies grow successfully”.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: “Co-founded a large investment firm.”  Head of Policy Exchange’s Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Research Unit.  Former Fullbright scholar.


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Tom Tugendhat

TugendhatConstituencyTonbridge and Malling.

Education: St Paul’s and Bristol University, where he read theology.

Family: Married to Anissia, and has one son.

Work: Foreign Office and Territorial Army

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Helped set up the National Security Council of Afghanistan and the government in Helmand Province.  Learned Arabic in Yemen. Former military assistant to the Chief of the Defence Staff.


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Matt Warman

Matt WarmanConstituency: Boston and Skegness.

Education: Haberdashers’ Aske’s and Durham University, where he read English Literature.

Family: Married to Rachel.

Work: Journalist - Head of Technology at the Daily Telegraph.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: “My mother-in-law works for the RSPB at Freiston Shore, my father-in-law’s a long-serving science teacher at Boston Grammar.”


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Helen Whately

Helen WhatelyConstituency: Faversham and Mid-Kent.

Education: Oxford University, where she read PPE.

Family: Married, and has three children

Work: Accountant and businesswoman.

Councillor: No

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes - fought Kingston and Surbiton in 2010.

Snapshot: Has worked with NHS hospitals, previously ran a business unit at AOL Time Warner, advised Conservatives in opposition on media policy.


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The thirty seven new entries

Lucy Allan

Lucy Allan MPConstituency: Telford

Family: Married with a son.

Education: Durham University; Kingston Law School

Work: Worked as a chartered accountant before founding an advocacy business and taking up a position in the NHS.

Councillor: Former – sat on Wandsworth Borough Council from 2006 to 2012.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Launched the Family First Campaign to combat injustice in the child protection system in 2012.


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Caroline Ansell

Caroline Ansell MPConstituency: Eastbourne

Family: Married to Nicholas, who is employed as her personal assistant, and three sons.

Education: -

Work: A teacher for fifteen years, and a school inspector.

Councillor: Former, on Eastbourne District Council.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: “Education is the driving force behind my standing as your MP. I was a teacher for 15 years and my expertise will help drive up standards in local schools”.


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James Berry

James Berry MPConstituency: Kingston and Surbiton

Family: Married to Nehali, a fellow lawyer.

Education: The independent King’s School in Canterbury, followed by University College London and the Harvard Law School.

Work: A barrister “specialising in healthcare and police issues”.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Stresses education as a key motivator of his pursuit of a political career: “What drew me to politics was the opportunity to encourage aspiration for all our local children through quality education. Education has been a central part of my life”.


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Maria Caulfield

Maria Caulfield MPConstituency: Lewes

Family: Partner to Steve.

Education: -

Work: A full-time NHS nurse who held the role of Research Sister, studying breast cancer.

Councillor: Former – served on Brighton Council from 2007 to 2011, holding the housing portfolio in the Conservative cabinet.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – fought the Welsh seat of Caerphilly in 2010.

Snapshot: Originally joined the Party during a campaign to save Brighton hospitals. Sits on the board of a local homelessness charity.


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Alex Chalk

Alex Chalk MPConstituency: Cheltenham

Family: Wife and two children.

Education: Attended the independent Winchester College, then studied at Oxford.

Work: Barrister “specialising in counter-terrorism, homicide and serious fraud cases.”

Councillor: Former – sat on Hammersmith and Fulham Council from 2006 to 2014.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Helped drive council tax to “historically low levels” whilst elected. Strongly emphasises local roots: “Cheltenham will always be special to me… my family have lived here since the war”.


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Byron Davies

Byron Davies MPConstituency: Gower

Family: Wife and son.

Education: Gowerton Boys’ Grammar School, honours degree in Law.

Work: Police officer serving with the Metropolitan Police, with extensive experience on secondment to the EU advising on organised crime and helping prepare countries for accession.

Councillor: No, but represented South Wales West in the Welsh Assembly from 2011 to 2015.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes, he contested Gower in 2010 and placed second.

Snapshot: “Spent several years living and working in Eastern Europe, helping to prepare EU candidate countries for accession. He is the author of European Union Commission progress reports for several countries in the Balkan region…”


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Christopher Davies

Christopher Davies MPConstituency: Brecon and Radnorshire

Family: Married to Liz, a therapeutic radiographer at Velindre NHS cancer hospital, and they have two young daughters.

Education: “Attended the local primary school and Morriston Comprehensive.”

Work: Worked for two decades as an estate agent and rural auctioneer, and managed a veterinary practice before being elected.

Councillor: Yes, elected to Powys County Council in 2012. Also contested the 2011 Assembly election.

Former Parliamentary Candidate:

Snapshot: “Chris’ professional and social activities have been entrenched within the rural and agricultural communities of the area and he has been a leading campaigner and organiser on rural issues for many years.”


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James Davies

James Davies MPConstituency: Vale of Clwyd

Family: Married to Nina, a district nurse. They have a baby son.


Work: “I work as a GP in the NHS and was previously a trainee doctor at Glan Clwyd Hospital.” Specialises in dementia.

Councillor: Yes, elected to Prestatyn council in 2004.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Born and bred locally, very loyal to area and emphasised local roots during the campaign. In addition to the NHS he champions rural issues.


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Mims Davies

Mims Davies MPConstituency: Eastleigh

Family: Married with two daughters.

Education: Read Politics at Swansea University.

Work: “I have worked in a variety of fields in retail, hospitality, but mainly media, events and communications. Most notably for the AA, BBC and the Police.”

Councillor: Yes, served on Mid Sussex District Council for six years.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: “I studied Politics at University and was the 1st person in my family to go, suffer the debts and succeed as a result of the opportunity!”


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Michelle Donelan

Michelle Donelan MPConstituency: Chippenham

Family: -

Education: Read History and Politics at York.

Work: Self-employed small businesswoman, previously an international manager.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes, fought Wentworth and Dearne in 2010.

Snapshot: “I have never had a “job” in politics. I have always worked for my money in a “real job”, managed a tight household budget and I know what it is like to struggle.”


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Steve Double

Steve Double MPConstituency: St Austell and Newquay

Family: Married to Anne for 29 years, three sons.


Work: Worked for a local church, and founded and ran his own business.

Councillor: Yes, former cabinet member on Cornwall Council.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Has lived and worked in Cornwall his entire life, and was Mayor of St Austell before the election.


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Flick Drummond

Flick Drummond MPConstituency: Portsmouth South

Family: Married, with four grown up children.

Education: Read South East Asian Studies at Hull, and later a Masters in Global Politics and International Relations at Southampton.

Work: Former insurance broker.

Councillor: Formerly, before moving to America in the 1990s.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes, fought the same constituency in 2010 and Southampton Itchen in 2005.

Snapshot: Served in the Territorial Army Intelligence Corps, heavily involved in local causes such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Community Health Council.


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Kevin Foster

Kevin Foster MPConstituency: Torbay

Family: -

Education: Glen Park Primary and Hele’s schools, followed by Law at Warwick and a Masters in International Economic Law and the Bar Vocational Course.

Work: Worked for a Tory MEP campaigning against New Labour’s regional government proposals, then for the Conservative administration on Coventry City Council.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes, fought Coventry South in 2010.

Snapshot: Candidate with deep local roots but with a long service record with the Party. Makes prominent mention of his Christian faith.


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Marcus Fysh

Marcus Fysh MPConstituency: Yeovil

Family: Wife and baby daughter.

Education: Oxford University.

Work: Founded his own business in 2003, previously worked for an asset management firm.

Councillor: Yes, on South Somerset District Council and then Somerset County Council.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Comes from a medical family, background in investment. Emphasises housing as a priority.


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Chris Green

Chris Green MPConstituency: Bolton West

Family: -

Education: -

Work: Almost two decades as a mass spectrometry engineer before entering the Commons.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes, fought Manchester Withington in 2010.

Snapshot: An MP with a science background who been elected to the Science and Technology Select Committee. Previously promoted science and engineering in primary schools, and served in the Territorial Army.


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Luke Hall

Luke Hall MPConstituency: Thornbury and Yate

Family: -

Education: “A local state school.”

Work: Worked in retail since 16, was Area Manager for Farmfoods prior to being elected.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: An MP with deep local roots and a keen interest in sports, and an active party campaigner who was nominated for the 2013 National Conservative Excellence Awards.


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James Heappey

James Heappey MPConstituency: Wells

Family: Wife Kate and children Charlie and Tilly.

Education: The independent Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital school, then the University of Birmingham.

Work: Was a Major in The Rifles regiment, worked at the Ministry of Defence and researcher for Liam Fox.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Former soldier with experience of the political side of defence, strong local roots in his constituency, and an interest in competitive sports.


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Peter Heaton-Jones

Peter Heaton-Jones MPConstituency: North Devon


Education: The University of London.

Work: “A twenty year career as a broadcaster, journalist and marketing professional” in the UK and Australia.

Councillor: Former – elected as a borough councillor in Swindon in 2010.

Former Parliamentary Candidate:

Snapshot: An experienced political journalist turned political activist who has actively campaigned both for the Party and the Liberals in Australia.


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Ben Howlett

Ben Howlett MPConstituency: Bath

Family: -

Education: Manningtree High School before reading History and Politics at Durham.

Work: “Howlett worked as a recruitment consultant from 2008 to 2015, latterly specialising in senior non-medical positions in the healthcare sector.”

Councillor: Former leader of the Conservative group on Harwich Town Council.

Former Parliamentary Candidate:

Snapshot: Former head of Conservative Future, avowed Christian and strong supporter of gay rights who describes himself as a “pragmatic conservative” and stresses his non-partisan nature.


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Andrea Jenkyns

Andrea Jenkyns MPConstituency: Morley and Outwood

Family: -

Education: A degree in International Relations and Politics from the University if Lincoln and a diploma in Economics from the Open University.

Work: Went straight into work after school, worked in business before becoming a music teacher.

Councillor: Previous – served on Lincolnshire County Council.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Came into politics after her father died of MRSA, and now sits on the Health Select Committee. A keen singer.


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Julian Knight

Julian Knight MPConstituency: Solihull

Family: Married to Philippa, a former nurse.

Education: Studied at the University of Hull.

Work: Journalist – money and property editor at The Independent from 2007, prior to which he was a consumer journalist for the BBC.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Experienced economic journalist and author who was born on a council estate and was the first of his family to attend university.


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Scott Mann

Scott Mann MPConstituency: North Cornwall

Family: -

Education: Wadebridge Secondary School and St Austell College.

Work: Postman for the Royal Mail.

Councillor: Yes – elected to Cornwall Council for Wadebridge ward in 2009 and re-elected in 2013. Resigned as deputy leader of the Tory group in 2012 in protest over a public spending project.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: A very local candidate, and one of two Cornish Tory MPs who took their oath of allegiance in the Cornish language. Described by The Sun as a Poldark look-a-like.


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Tania Mathias

Tania Mathias MPConstituency: Twickenham

Family: -

Education: St Paul’s Girls School and Oxford University.

Work: NHS eye doctor, formerly a refugee worker for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

Councillor: Former – elected to Richmond upon Thames borough council in 2010.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: NHS doctor who ousted Vince Cable. More ideologically open than some, stating on her site to favour parental choice in education (including grammars) and a smaller state.


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Johnny Mercer

Johnny Mercer MPConstituency: Plymouth Moor View

Family: Married to Felicity with two young children.

Education: Eastbourne College, a co-educational independent school, and then the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Work: A military officer who “served from the tactical to the strategic level throughout a career across the globe, including multiple combat operations.”

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: A military veteran and ConservativeHome contributor who snatched a surprise win from Labour’s already small pool of South Western seats.


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Rebecca Pow

Rebecca Pow MPConstituency: Taunton Deane

Family: Married to Charles, three children.

Education: -

Work: Set up a public relations business ten years ago. Previously worked for the National Farmers Union and as an agricultural and environmental journalist for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

Councillor: Yes – parish councillor in Stoke St Mary.

Former Parliamentary Candidate:

Snapshot: “I am a traditional Conservative with a twist of the contemporary with my own added touch of green!” Selected as PPC in an open primary.


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Tom Pursglove

Tom Pursglove MPConstituency: Corby

Family: -

Education: St Christopher Hatton School, a comprehensive, and Queen Mary College, University of London.

Work: Director of Together Against Wind, the national anti-wind farm campaign, and previously worked for Conservative MPs Peter Bone and Chris Heaton Harris.

Councillor: Became the youngest councillor in the UK when he was elected to Wellingborough Borough Council in 2007 at 18.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Has long experience in the Party, and has worked in politics in a variety of positions since leaving university.


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Will Quince

Will Quince MPConstituency: Colchester

Family: Married to Elinor, with a young daughter.

Education: -

Work: His background is as a solicitor, and he previously worked as an account manager for Britvic.

Councillor: Yes, councillor and former Tory group leader on Colchester Borough Council.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes, he fought Colchester in 2010.

Snapshot: A former member of the Conservative Future national executive who co-ordinated help from the East of England to Boris Johnson’s first mayoral campaign.


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Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson MPConstituency: Cheadle

Family: Husband Stephen and for young children.

Education: Degree in law.

Work: “Set up and ran a successful accountancy practice with her husband. She currently runs a family business with her daughter.”

Councillor: Former – six years as a borough councillor in South Ribble.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: A member of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, and previously volunteered as a scout leader and school governor.


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Paul Scully

Paul Scully MPConstituency: Sutton and Cheam

Family: Wife and two young children.

Education: -

Work: Aide to former Croydon Central MP Andrew Pelling before setting up his own public affairs agency.

Councillor: Formerly sat on Sutton council, and was Conservative group leader before losing his seat in a Tory ‘meltdown’ in 2010.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: “A regular volunteer at St Helier Hospital, a school governor, a governor at SCOLA and a former Councillor in Sutton, I have a record of standing up for local people.”


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Royston Smith

Royston Smith MPConstituency: Southampton Itchen

Family: “…lives in the heart of the constituency with his family.”

Education: -

Work: Engineer in the Royal Air Force, then at British Airways.

Councillor: Yes, has served on Southampton council since 2000 and formery led it.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – lost the same seat by 192 votes in 2010.

Snapshot: Technical and military background, was awarded the George Medal after tackling a rogue sailor who went on a spree shooting on HMS Astute in 2011.


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Amanda Solloway

Amanda Solloway MPConstituency: Derby North

Family: Married.

Education: Bramcote Hills Grammar School.

Work: Management consultant.

Councillor: Yes – a parish councillor at the time of her selection in 2013.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: “A businesswoman, school governor and is an active community volunteer. Amanda plans on maintaining these current roles alongside her position as MP.” Works with Women2Win to get more women involved in Conservative politics.


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Derek Thomas

Derek Thomas MPConstituency: St Ives

Family: Wife and two young boys.

Education: “After leaving school Mr Thomas completed an apprenticeship as a Cornish mason and later trained in London as a community worker.”

Work: Founded his own construction business, prior to which he worked a voluntary organisation and a local church.

Councillor: Former – served as a district councillor in Penwith, and is currently a parish councillor.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – came second in the same seat in 2010.

Snapshot: Served as a volunteer youth and community worker, and set up an outdoor adventure project for young people in 1997 which he still leads today.


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Kelly Tolhurst

Kelly Tolhurst MPConstituency: Rochester and Strood

Family: -

Education: Chapter High School.

Work: Operated her own marine survey business.

Councillor: Yes – has served on Medway Council since 2011.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – fought the seat in the 2014 by-election triggered by the defection of Mark Reckless, coming second.

Snapshot: Another local candidate, having grown up in the constituency, and claims she’d never want to represent another seat. Vocal on immigration and apparently a vocal critic of Israel who supports boycotts.


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Michael Tomlinson

Michael Tomlinson MPConstituency: Mid Dorset and North Poole

Family: Married to Frances, and has three children.


Work: A barrister, who has represented both local authorities and government departments.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No, but was campaign manager for the Tory candidate in this seat in 2010.

Snapshot: In addition to activism and being chairman of his local party, Tomlinson has travelled to Rwanda and Sierra Leone as part of the Party’s ‘Project Umubano’ skill-sharing scheme.


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Anne-Marie Trevelyan

Anne-Marie Trevelyan MPConstituency: Berwick-upon-Tweed

Family: -

Education: -

Work: Chartered accountant.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – secured an 8.3 per cent swing against the Liberal Democrats in the same seat in 2010.

Snapshot: An active political campaigner in the North East and a member of the pro-Bexit group Conservatives for Britain.


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David Warburton

David Warburton MPConstituency: Somerton and Frome

Family: Married to Harriet with two young children, Cecily and James.

Education: Attended Reading School, a state grammar, and a co-educational comprehensive, before reading classical music composition at the Royal College of Music and doctorate studies at Kings College, London.

Work: Founded an online business in 2012, prior to which he set up two property restoration companies,  founded a musical technology company and taught music at school and university level.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Has won several musical prizes and had his work performed by major ensembles. Heavily involved in charity work.


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William Wragg

William Wragg MPConstituency: Hazel Grove

Family: -

Education: Was educated in “local state schools”.

Work: Qualified as a primary school teacher under the Teach First programme in 2014.

Councillor: Former – served on Stockport Borough Council prior to being elected, where he was the first Tory councillor for Hazel Grove ward elected since 1992.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Primary school teacher and dedicated party activist, has a keen interest in education and has served as a mentor for children with special educational needs.


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The seven defenders

Seema Kennedy

Seema Kennedy MPConstituency: South Ribble

Education: “…went to school in Blackburn.”

Family: Married to Paul, with three sons.

Work: “After a time working in the City as a solicitor, Seema joined the family business.”

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – fought Ashton-under-Lyne in 2010 and came second.

Snapshot: Born in the UK to an Iranian father, Kennedy’s family moved to Iran before fleeing the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Places a heavy emphasis on duty, respect for the elderly, and social action. 


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Craig Mackinlay

Craig Mackinlay MPConstituency: South Thanet

Education: Rainham Grammar School, then read Zoology and Comparative Physiology at Birmingham University.

Family: Married to Kati, a community pharmacist.

Work: Partner in a Kent chartered accountancy firm.

Councillor: Former – served on Medway Council from 2007 to 2015.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Serially so, although not for the Tories. Contested Gillingham three times in 1992, 2001 and 2005 (first as an independent, latterly as UKIP), and fought Totnes for UKIP in 1997.

Snapshot: A Justice of the Peace since 2006, Freeman of the City of London, and former acting leader of UKIP who saw off Farage.


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Amanda Milling

Amanda Milling MPConstituency: Cannock Chase

Education: Read economics and statistics at University College London.

Family: -

Work: A company director with a career in market research, specialising in financial services.

Councillor: Former – served on Rossendale Borough Council from 2009 until recently.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: Born and raised in the area, business professional with local government experience.


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Maggie Throup

Maggie Throup MPConstituency: Erewash

Education: “Maggie studied biology at university in Manchester.”

Family: -

Work: “Maggie runs her own marketing consultancy which she set up in 1996.” Prior to this worked in an NHS pathology department.

Councillor: No.

Former Parliamentary Candidate:  Yes, twice narrowly missing out: Colne Valley in 2005 and Solihull in 2010.

Snapshot: An active independent campaigner on issues such as the Green Belt and HS2.


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Craig Tracey

Craig Tracey MPConstituency: North Warwickshire

Education: Framwellgate Moor Comprehensive, left at 17.

Family: Married to Karen.

Work: Founded his own insurance breakers aged 21, which he sold shortly before being elected.

Councillor: Former – served as a parish councillor.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: “Craig’s local priorities include: supporting the George Eliot Hospital, fighting HS2, local jobs, road safety, protecting our green belt, supporting local schools and the need for extended high speed broadband.”


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Craig Williams

Craig Williams MPConstituency: Cardiff North

Education: -

Family: Married to Clare, with young son Charlie.

Work: Worked as a researcher in the Welsh Assembly.

Councillor: Former – resigned from Cardiff council following his election to Parliament.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: Yes – fought the Cardiff South and Penarth by-election in 2012.

Snapshot: Places a heavy emphasis on how his local government experience equips him to be an effective community MP.


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Mike Wood

Mike Wood MPConstituency: Dudley South

Education: Went to local schools.

Family: Married to Laura, with two young children.

Work: “A parliamentary assistant and former policy advisor to the Conservatives in the European Parliament.”

Councillor: Yes – sits on Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council.

Former Parliamentary Candidate: No.

Snapshot: “As the son of a retired policeman, I am a big believer in the importance of strong law and order.” Serves as governor to a local special needs school, and grew up in the constituency.


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Conclusion – Cameron’s Children

The coming Conservative Parliamentary intake of 2015 can be seen as an exercise in forced perspective – that’s to say, it isn’t at first glance the way it fully is.

On the surface, this intake looks different from those that have preceded it. Different, because a majority of its members in safe seats haven’t fought a seat before. Different, because the proportion of women is significantly higher than in 2010. Different because the proportion of ethnic minorities is higher, too – at least in the “safe” seats”.

But beneath the surface, this is in many ways a very traditional Tory intake.

Thirty of its members in “safe” seats have business backgrounds, in one way or another. Twelve are lawyers. At least four were full-time councillors. (We are counting Boris Johnson among their number.) Two are daughters of former MPs. Then there is David Cameron’s Deputy Chief of Staff, and a former Foreign Office man.

Only a solitary full-time journalist was selected for a safe seat, although the ranks of the fourth estate are tripled by those who won new seats for the Party.

Not one man or women in the “safe” seats, then, who works full-time in the public sector apart from as a lawyer or a civil servant (traditional sources of recruitment for the Party, in the former case at least) – or for that matter appears ever to have done so – was selected for a safe seat either, although again surprise gains on election night did much to correct this balance.

The intake of 2015, especially in safe seats where CCHQ will have concentrated its attentionsthus in some ways reflect the intense push of Downing Street and CCHQ for more candidates of certain types.

The sense we have is that the shape of the 2015 cohort reflects the desire of Grant Shapps for more candidates with a business background (the Party Chairman is himself a self-made businessman, not a former Special Adviser), and the push of Carolyn Chisholm and Sarah Newton, the co-chairs of the Candidates Commitee, for more women candidates – with the main drive coming from Downing Street.  There is an upside and a downside to these purposes.

The upside is that the 2015 intake is a talented one.  In the safe seats, there are obvious future stars – such as Dowden, Frazer and Philp.  Others will doubtless emerge. There is no shortage of gifted future ministers.

The credit for this belongs either to the Downing Street/CCHQ machine, or to the local Associations and primaries that have sifted and picked, or both. You must make your choice.

The downside is that the results are unlikely decisively to correct the Party’s main strategic weakness – that it is widely seen as the ‘Party of the Rich’.

This is deeply unfair on many of the intake, whose background wasn’t in the least privileged – indeed, the reverse – and have made their way in life themselves. But the figures for public sector experience in the “safe” seats, for ethnic minority members outside those seats and for education in the state sector do nothing to ease the problem.

That we have labelled this cohort “Cameron’s Children” is less a reflection on their political views or their personal loyalties than a fact – namely, that David Cameron has been leader of the Party for rather a long time now: the best part of ten years.

The list from which his these candidates have been drawn and the procedures under which they have been selected are thus very much his list and procedures. The culled, smaller list, the particular forms of CCHQ “guidance”, the caucus selections – all these are a product of the Party that he has shaped.

In the safe seats, the modernisation drive from Number Ten and Downing Ten (correct in itself) has perhaps fallen victim to a weakness to which we are all prone: namely, the belief that if people are the answer to a problem, then they must be people who are rather like us.

However, the Party’s surprise gains in May have partly offset this imbalance, bringing a variety of public sector workers – especially from those great British institutions, the NHS and the military – into the ranks of the Parliamentary party. They have also increased the strength of voices from regions far from the capital, most notably Cornwall and Wales.

The 2015 cohort is a strong one, and more broadly-based than it would have been had the polls been correct on election night. It will do well. But it will take that of 2020 to truly tackle the ‘Party of the Rich’ problem.


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Footnote: A word on methodology.

Compiling these profiles has been shooting at a moving target – that’s to say, some of the information they contain may be soon be out of date, if not so already.  For example, some of the candidates who are listed as councillors may by now have stood down, but they were so listed when we looked.  We have generally put in links in what seem to us the best places.

Furthermore, some of our selection are a little shy with information, particularly about family and education.  We are not taking a great deal of interest in the former, but the latter is a different matter.  Our figures for the 2010 intake come via Byron Criddle. We have also read closely the latest assessment of our columnist, Lewis Baston, for Westbourne Commnications.

All in all, then, we are not attempting to provide complete CVs, but snapshots.  All information from readers and others about education will be read with interest.  But we are not gripped by, say, who slept with whom at Oxford – assuming that the person in question was at Oxford, and also assuming that he or she slept with anyone at the time.

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