A new guide

After every general election, The Times publishes its guide to the new House of Commons.  I have a complete set from 1945 onwards as well as copies (reprinted by Politico’s) for the 1910, 1911, 1919, 1929, 1931 and 1935 Houses.  They make for fascinating reading, providing data on the MP and the election in each constituency.

The Times Guide to the House of Commons 2010 differs from its predecessors in one important respect.  It continues to provide valuable information on the results and the MP as well as reverting to the practice of giving some details of the other principal candidates in a seat.  However, it supplements factual information on each MP with a subjective thumbnail sketch – the sort of thing that Andrew Roth used to provide in his Parliamentary Profiles.

Thus, for example:

 ‘A survivor.  Slightly pompous.  A prominent Freemason.  Euro-enthusiast and opposed Iraq war.’ 

‘Ruddy-cheeked, unreconstructed figure from Labour Left.  Not so much old Labour as dinosaur Labour.’ 

‘Unremarkable shire Tory.  Cantankerous and slightly bumptious’. 

‘Rather ra ra and military – a former SAS man with belligerent tribal instincts’.

Any guesses?

The speed with which the guide is produced means that the odd (and occasionally spectacular) mistake slips in.  It would not be the first time, though, that it included the wrong photograph for an MP…


About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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10 Responses to A new guide

  1. ‘Ruddy-cheeked, unreconstructed figure from Labour Left. Not so much old Labour as dinosaur Labour.’

    My money’s on Ronnie Campbell.

  2. Croft says:



    I thought of Davis for the last but Robotham was SAS iirc?

  3. ladytizzy says:

    Other possible contenders:

    a) Jack Straw (though being an opponent of the Iraq war didn’t narrow the field down)
    b) Tom Watson (he has more ruddy cheek than Skinner)
    c) Eric Pickles (Bercow was eliminated due to the addition of ‘slightly’
    d) Rory Stewart (but most likely to be Davis, assuming The Times knew of his ‘ra ra’ tendencies in pubs)

    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: Bad news I’m afraid – wrong in each case. If it helps to have a clue, the MP in the first description is a Conservative. I’m not sure Jack Straw will take too kindly to being described as a prominent Freemason!

  4. Lord Norton says:

    I can reveal that the answers are:
    Conservative MP Tony Baldry
    Labour MP Ronnie Campbell (as correctly identified by Rocky Lorusso)
    Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger
    Conservative MP Andrew Robotham (half of Croft’s answer).

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