A co-chair of the Parliamentary University Group, I hosted a reception last night for parliamentarians and Vice-Chancellors. I was struck not only by the number of newly-elected MPs who attended but also by their enthusiasm. The 2010 intake – on both sides – looks like being a lively one.
The election in which MPs are first returned can make quite a difference to how they view parliamentary life. There can be a notable difference between parliamentary cohorts. The Labour MPs first elected in 1997 – large in number, many returned (in some cases unexpectedly) for marginal seats and crediting their election to the party leader – were very different to the new cohort of Labour Members returned in the 2001 election – small in number, essentially succeeding retiring Labour MPs in safe seats, able to anticipate a long parliamentary career, and with a more notable corporate spirit.
It will be interesting to see how the large intake of new Conservative MPs develops, not least compared to the smaller intake of new Labour – and Liberal Democrat – Members. They all seem to be adapting to the parliamentary environment with enthusiasm, many having already made their maiden speeches. It used to be the case that older Members would advise waiting until one had the feel of the House before making a maiden speech (something I did when I entered the Lords), but that seems not to hold sway now to the extent that it did in the past. There seems to be a desire to get involved as soon as possible.