Last time we looked at the new Conservative intake in aggregate. This time we’re picking out a few who look set to make an impact, some for the right reasons and some for the wrong reasons. Many new MPs have scrubbed their social media squeaky clean. This might well be smart when looking to get elected. It is going to make it harder for them to stand out from the crowd. As Oscar Wilde said, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
Even so, quite a few have already found themselves in hot water for their pronouncements. Anthony Browne, a former journalist colleague and aide of Boris Johnson, may well excite sympathy for the way that some of his more adventurous articles have caused outrage. In 2003, Browne allegedly wrote for the Spectator, accusing immigrants of spreading HIV and bringing germs to the country. The half-baked musings of Sally-Ann Hart, Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith are less likely to have tugged at the heartstrings of their colleagues.
Several of the new intake have controversy in their pasts. The Ministry of Justice intervened in Jamie Wallis’s claims management company (he also seems to have part-owned a sugar daddy website) and Stuart Anderson has faced questions over a dividend he received from a company that subsequently went insolvent. And one has been wrongly accused of sexual molestation while another has already felt obliged to clarify his sexuality.
Who are the potential stars? Boris Johnson would only be human if he favoured those he already knows well. So Anthony Browne, despite his past indiscretions, Andrew Griffith and Danny Kruger are all well-placed.
Of the relative outsiders, we’re going to be keeping an eye on the following:
- James Sunderland, Bracknell. A former army officer with strong views on global Britain post-Brexit, he is likely to have a distinctive take on next steps.
- Natalie Elphicke, Dover and Deal. Not just her husband’s wife, she has long-standing experience of developing policy in housing and infrastructure. In a government that makes great play of housing and infrastructure, she has talents that should be exploited.
- Gareth Davies, Grantham and Stanford. An economic policy specialist who is well plugged into the party machinery.
- Aaron Bell, Newcastle-under-Lyme. Pb.com’s own TissuePrice, he has already managed both to have a distinctive backstory without offering up any notable hostages to fortune. That obvious intelligence is going to have to find an outlet somewhere. As a serial quiz show contestant, he is clearly more than comfortable with the limelight.
- Laura Trott, Sevenoaks. Unlikely to find favour in this government given her incautiously-expressed views about Boris Johnson. Clearly able and if an awkward squad forms, she may well be in it.
- Dr James Davies, Vale of Clwyd. Former doctor, very strong on health issues, where the Conservatives have traditionally struggled. Could come to the fore if an NHS crisis materialises, and is an obvious candidate for ministerial posts in the Department of Health.
- Sarah Atherton, Wrexham. Former intelligence officer and passionate Brexiteer. One of a new breed of Welsh Tories.
And, of course, we can’t leave without coming back to Danny Kruger, who would be one to watch even if he hadn’t already worked with Boris Johnson. Unusually among MPs, he is a real political thinker and has a fully worked-out communitarian ideology of his own. He is a former speechwriter to David Cameron so he understands and can control the power of words. He is likely to have a glittering career or cause future leaders major problems. Or both.