Will they never know what it’s like to be the opposition?
Unless there’s a dramatic change in the fortunes of the main parties in the next twelve months it’s likely that the number of seats changing hands could be approaching, or may even be higher, than that which we saw in Tony Blair’s landslide in 1997.
Then John Major’s Conservatives had a net loss of 171 seats with Labour seeing a net increase of 147 and the Lib Dems 26.
An interesting question, and one that I’ve suggested to Ladbrokes as a possible betting market, is how many of “Labour’s Class of ’97” will still be there after the next election. The women MPs who were part of that dramatic change election were later featured in a celebration photo call (see picture above).
For most of the “new” Labour MPs in 1997 were those who took marginal seats off the Tories and although there have been boundary changes since then then a large proportion are on the “most at risk” list for next time. Among them are, of course, two who have been featuring in the headlines and betting rather a lot at the moment, Jacqui Smith (Redditch), Tony McNulty (Harrow East).
There were, of course, others in the 1997 year group – the lucky ones who inherited existing Labour seats and mostly they are much less vulnerable.
What is odd is that such a large proportion of the current Parliamentary Labour Party have never known what it’s like to sit on the opposition benches at Westminster and, most likely, never will. What is also odd is seeing such a high proportion of the cabinet in “at risk” seats.
I often wonder whether this has affected their attitude to things like expenses. My guess is that it has.
CORRECTION I think that my original picture was not of the 1997 intake and has been replaced by one that I think is.