They say all political careers end in failure. But for many of the MPs who lost their seats in last December’s General Election, defeat paved the way for top jobs.
It also torpedoed the careers of rising stars who emerged from a gruelling winter campaign without their positions and £79,000 salaries.
No more was this true than among the Labour candidates who followed Jeremy Corbyn into the party’s worst set of ballots since 1935.
And while many unseated MPs easily parachuted into plum roles in the private and charity sectors, others struggled to find their feet in a life outside the Commons.
Ex-MPs who represented swing seats often only had two years parliamentary experience on their CVs after first being elected in the snap 2017 poll.
Many struggled to shake the politics itch and have since side-stepped into advisory or campaigning roles.
Others have forged a completely new careers, such as the director of a spinner’s mill. And one told MailOnline he was just ‘taking it easy’.
Scroll down to see what those former Labour MPs are doing one year on from that memorable night.
Jeremy Corbyn at his constituency count on a night where he led Labour to the party’s worst electoral defeat since 1935
Boris Johnson sweeps back into Number 10 with an 80-seat majority after going to the country in a general election and storming to victory
It followed a seismic shift in British politics when voters in Brexit-backing Red Wall heartlands switched their allegiance to the Conservatives and handed Boris Johnson a landslide 80-seat majority
Now: Campaigner and volunteer
Just four days after being unseated, Burden published a blog post hinting a desire to remain politically active.
‘Rebuilding a healthy democracy is a cause bigger than any of us and something we owe to future generations,’ he signed off.
Burden remains vice chair of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East and often criticises the Israeli government in his writings.
He also volunteered at Northfield Food Service, which supplied meals to schoolchildren during half-term. Burden is one year off the age of retirement.
Now: Senior political aide to Sir Keir Starmer/Life Peer
In the three years before the Red Wall crumbled – and she was unseated – Chapman loyally served in Sir Keir Starmer’s team as a shadow Brexit minister.
When Sir Keir threw his hat into the ring to replace Jeremy Corbyn, Chapman was appointed chair of his successful leadership campaign.
She was later rewarded with a plum job as senior adviser, and currently works in the Leader of the Opposition’s Office.
Sir Keir nominated Chapman to be a Life Peer in December, meaning she will enter the House of Lords.
Britain’s Labour leader Keir Starmer arrives with his political director Jenny Chapman, who lost her seat at the last election
Defending a wafer-thin majority of just 20, Dent Coad’s parliamentary career hung on a knife edge, which was eventually snatched by the Conservatives with 150 more votes
Emma Dent Coad
Now: Local councillor
Defending a wafer-thin majority of just 20, Dent Coad’s parliamentary career hung on a knife edge and a margin of 150 votes tipped the balance to the Conservatives.
She remains a councillor for the Kensington ward of Golborne and takes an annual allowance of £11,027.
In an interview with the socialist Morning Star newspaper, Dent Coad did not rule out standing in the next General Election.
Now: University professor/Life Peer
The former Brown-era minister served on the frontbench in Opposition before joining dozens in resigning in 2016.
Since leaving Parliament, Coaker has joined Nottingham University as an honorary rights lab professor, specialising in modern slavery and local, regional, national and international policy.
In late December he revealed he had been asked by Sir Keir to become a Labour peer in the House of Lords.
Consession speech: A senior backbencher who held a variety of shadow cabinet posts under Miliband, Mary Creagh was a major scalp for the Tories. But since leaving parliament she has bagged a plum job after in June being appointed chief executive of Living Streets, the UK’s charity for everyday walking
Now: Charity chief executive
Last December saw the once West Yorkshire Labour stronghold of Wakefield turn blue for the first time since the 1930s.
A senior backbencher who held a variety of shadow cabinet posts under Miliband, Creagh was a major scalp for the Tories.
But since leaving parliament she has bagged a plum job after in June being appointed chief executive of Living Streets, the UK’s charity for everyday walking.
In addition, Creagh has taken up roles as a visiting professor at Cranfield University and chair of responsible business practice at PR firm Lexington Communications.
Sir David Crausby
Bolton North East
Sir David flipped this marginal seat red in New Labour’s 1997 landslide, but suffered a decisive 6 per cent swing away from him last December.
At 74, he is well past the age of retirement and is not believed to have taken up a new role. Indeed, he tweets only sporadically, after the US election writing: ‘Half of the American people are back in my good books.’
Now: Schools mentor
Dakin was first elected in 2010 and served as a shadow schools minister between 2015-16, in the first year of Corbyn’s leadership.
After losing his Scunthorpe seat to the Tories, the former teacher turned back to his old profession and is now a ‘skills, health and coaching’ mentor, according to his LinkedIn.
He was also knighted in the 2020 Birthday Honours list for political service.
Now: Charity director
Although past the age of retirement, Drew is listed as a current director of two companies on Companies House.
One is Project Stroud, which appears to be a business set up to run community ventures in the constituency.
The second is a local Christian charity, Marah Trust, which ‘reaches out to people in need, providing support in a non-judgmental, welcoming framework.’
When the Prime Minister called the snap election, Caroline Flint said she knew immediately her seat was ‘doomed’.
Now: Media, consultancy, mentoring
When the Prime Minister called the snap election, Flint said she knew immediately her seat was ‘doomed’.
A potent combination of constituency Brexiteers and a loathing of Corbyn’s leadership saw the Blair and Brown-era minister lose her northern seat after 23 years in Parliament.
In the wake of the election she faced down potential court action from shadow cabinet minister Emily Thornberry, who strongly denied Flint’s accusation she had called Leave voters ‘stupid’. Flint says no action has been taken.
Revealing her post-election work on Iain Dale’s All Talk podcast this month, she said: ‘I’m doing a combination of things at the moment, I’m doing some media and I’m enjoying that. I’m doing some consultancy work… doing some stuff with young people, doing some mentoring.’
Failed to deliver the election night goods: A former postman, Hugh Gaffney proudly displayed the uniform on his first day in Parliament after the 2017 election
She is also chairing a cross-party group of current and ex-politicians ‘to amplify the voice of manufacturing’ as well as chairing a ‘policy project’ with Caroline Spellman, the former Conservative MP, called Project Zero to conjure up initiative for the UK to hit its zero carbon emissions target.
Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill
A former postman, Gaffney proudly displayed the uniform on his first day in Parliament after the 2017 election.
His Facebook says he is currently a postman. He still appears to be a member of the postal service and actively promoting Scottish Labour candidates and causes. He backed Angela Rayner for deputy leader at the start of 2020.
Now: Part-time charity project manager
One of the two-year Labour MPs who swept into swing seats in 2017 but were beaten out last December, George lost her High Peak seat by less than 600 votes.
In February she was elected a councillor in the constituency, representing Whaley Bridge, which grabbed headlines in 2019 when the village was evacuated amid fears the dam would burst because of heavy flooding.
Her register of interests also reveals George works from home as a ‘part-time project and policy manager’ for the Child Poverty Action Group.
John Grogan is now chair of the Mongolian-British Chamber of Commerce
Now: Chair of Mongolian-British Chamber of Commerce
First elected to Parliament in 1997 for the now abolished seat of Selby, Grogan staged a comeback after winning Keighly from the Tories in 2017.
But he lost the West Yorkshire seat in 2019. He is now chair of the Mongolian-British Chamber of Commerce and spends his days fostering ties between the two nations.
Sir David Hanson
Now: Knight of the Realm
Sir David triumphed in the 1992 election when he bucked the national trend and won a seat off the Tories for Labour.
He served on Blair, Brown and Miliband’s frontbenches, but went to the backbenches under Corbyn, whose electoral drubbing coincided with him losing the Welsh seat.
His first act as a citizen following three decades at the top of politics was a well-earned beach holiday to Cape Verde in January.
On the cusp of retirement, he is not believed to have landed another job – except for being made a knight of the realm after being named in October’s honour’s list.
Now: Labour peer
Now Baroness Hayman of Ullock, the former Labour MP was inducted into the House of Lords in September. Peers are not paid a salary but can claim a daily allowance of up to £305 per day.
Her seat became a battleground in the 2019 election after ‘Workington Man’ became to embody northern voters in Rugby League towns targeted by the Tories.
Giving it some welly! Jeremy Corbyn and Sue Hayman visit a Cumbrian sheep farm in August 2019. Four months later Hayman would no longer be an MP
Now: Still doing MP duties and charity volunteer
Although losing 11 per cent of his vote share in 2019 to lose to the Tories by 3,000 votes, Jones has refused to watch his successor from the sidelines and remains an active player in constituency politics.
Since leaving Parliament, he has written to the Cabinet Office to suggest the Ministry of Defence uproots to Lancashire and even continued to do casework for constituents.
He told Lancashire Live in March: ‘I cannot say no. I haven’t got the resources I had before but I do what I can. I’ve heard one or two Tories say why don’t you pack up, you’ve lost. My message is don’t tell me what to do. I live here and I’ve got a stake in the area.’
Graham Jones has refused to watch his successor from the sidelines and remains an active player in constituency politics
He told MailOnline he does not have any paid roles but spends his time doing charity work in the constituency: ‘Sea Cadets, Rail Regen, history group, arts group, an old church Regen Group.’
Susan Elan Jones
Now: Theatre trustee
The fluent Welsh speaker held the once stronghold Labour seat since 2010, but was edged out by Conservative Simon Baynes by less than 2,000 votes last December.
Elan Jones has not ruled out standing at the next election, but in the aftermath indicated her desire to return to the charity sector.
She was made a trustee of the Stiwt theatre in Rhosllannerchrugog near Wrexham in March, of the London Welsh Centre in August and also describes herself as a freelance charity fundraiser.
Rutherglen and Hamilton West
Now: Waiting in the wings for a re-run
After serving only two years in Parliament, Killen is hungry to get back on the green benches and is agitating for a by-election after his successor, Margaret Ferrier, broke lockdown rules by travelling to and from Scotland to London with Covid-19. He has already thrown his hat into the ring for any future contest.
Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath
Now: Director of equality campaign group
Another member of the two-year club, Laird held Gordon Brown’s former Scottish seat between 2017 and 2019, during which time she served as Corbyn’s shadow secretary of state for Scotland.
After being swept out in the SNP wave, she was appointed director of Equate Scotland, which campaigns for more women to enter STEM sectors.
She leads an 11-strong all-female team, and the website boasts her as having had ‘a wide-ranging career holding senior roles in local and national government, as well as global private sector organisations.’
Now: NHS Nurse
Lee grabbed headlines after revealing she had visited her local job centre after losing her seat. She said she was ‘not embarrassed’ and there was ‘no shame in it’.
She has since returned to her pre-Parliament job as a nurse, believed to be at Lincoln County Hospital.
Now: Trustee of schools trust
Marsden swept into his Blackpool seat in the New Labour landslide of 1997. In September he was made a trustee of Villiers Park Educational Trust, a charity for improving equality in education.
Education was Marsden’s bread and butter during his 23 years in Parliament; he served on the Education Select Committee and as a shadow skills minister.
Now: Electoral reform campaigner
In June 2017 Martin was riding high having claimed a major Tory scalp by unseating cabinet minister Ben Gummer who wrote Theresa May’s election manifesto.
Confronted with a very different result two years later, his concession speech angrily fumed: ‘The only way that we can win elections in this country now is by lying!’
In January he was elected chair of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, which lobbies for a European-style system of proportional representation.
Now: Covid-19 volunteer
This time last year a reeling Moon left the political stage with a bitter parting shot at her Conservative successor. ‘Bridgend now has an MP with no political experience, other than three years on a parish council,’ she said.
For Moon, loss did not just cost her the seat she has represented since 2005, but also her coveted position of President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the body coalescing the various state legislatures within the alliance.
Past the age of retirement, Moon is not believed to have taken up another job, but remains active in the constituency. In mid-March she was quick out of the blocks to recognise the plight of elderly people confined to their homes as the Covid-19 crisis gathered pace.
She drafted together a team of volunteers to deliver essentials to the vulnerable, as well as providing emotional support over the phone.
Taking the stage: Melanie Onn was elected in 2015, but lost her Brexit-voting Great Grimsby seat last year
Now: Renewable energy executive
Onn cut her teeth in the Labour Party Compliance Unit, before being selected to fight the North East Lincolnshire seat in the 2015 election on an all-women’s shortlist.
She was quickly identified as a rising star, but her Remain stance in the 2016 referendum put her at odds with the majority of her Brexit-backing constituents, for whom fishing was a totemic issue. That preference to Leave translated into a surge in Conservative support in 2019 and brought Onn’s political career to a halt.
But she quickly found a new role and was appointed deputy chief executive of Renewable UK, which describes itself as ‘the UK’s leading not for profit renewable energy trade association’.
North West Durham
Now: Left-wing campaigner
One of Corbyn’s most trusted allies, Pidcock was being groomed for high office and even touted as a future leader who could take forward the Corbyn project.
But her meteoric rise screeched to a halt aged only 33 when the Tories’ assault on the Red Wall claimed her North West Durham seat.
Yet she has refused to exit political life and remains a key flag-bearer for left-wing politics. Since leaving Parliament, she ran Richard Burgon’s unsuccessful deputy leadership campaign, was appointed president of the CLASS think tank, became national secretary of the campaign group People’s Assembly Against Austerity, and was elected to the party’s National Executive Committee last month.
Breakfast means breakfast: Jeremy Corbyn and Laura Pidcock in Geraldine’s Cafe in Consett, County Durham
Jo Platt is another member of Labour’s class of ’17 who found themselves ousted last year. She left Parliament as a shadow Cabinet Office minister
Now: Manager of a spinners mill
Platt is another member of Labour’s class of ’17 who found themselves ousted last year. She left Parliament as a shadow Cabinet Office minister, whose brief included cybersecurity, forcing her to become familiar with cutting-edge forms of technology.
Whereas her new job as general manager of Leigh Spinners Mill takes her back in time. She is charged with regenerating the once cotton mill, now a historic landmark in the constituency, with £180,500 of National Lottery community funds.
Now: Director of financial advisory firm
Unlike many unseated MPs who allowed themselves a few months off after a gruelling winter campaign, Rashid was quick to set up his own business, Westminster Finance Limited, the following January.
Based in Manchester, the firm claims to provide bespoke financial support ‘with no jargon’. In September, he also set up FR Mortgages limited and is the sole director.
Wolverhampton North East
Now: Boss of City trade group
One of the throngs of backbenchers critical of her party’s leadership, it was always clear Reynold’s moderate brand of politics departed from Corbyn’s naked socialism.
And in a job that would likely horrify her old left-wing leader, Reynold now bangs the drum for Britain’s financial services sector as managing director of industry group TheCityUK.
She represents members from ‘accountancy and advisory firms, asset managers and banks to consultancies, insurers, law firms and market infrastructure.’
Rowley cut her teeth as a 20-something media manager in Gordon Brown’s constituency office, before in 2017 taking a shot at Parliament herself.
She clawed back a seat for Labour from the SNP and was almost instantly elevated to Corbyn’s frontbench team as the first shadow minister for climate justice.
Two years later, when the Nats took the seat back, Rowley was appointed campaign manager of Emily Thornberry’s failed leadership bid.
After a short break she spent the summer advising the Labour group in the Scottish parliament. Rowley told MailOnline she is now ‘taking a wee break’ as she is eight months pregnant.
Sherriff made headlines last year when she took Boris Johnson to task in the House of Commons over stoking hate towards MPs, to which the Prime Minister memorably replied ‘humbug’
Now: NHS England
Sherriff made headlines last year when she took Boris Johnson to task in the House of Commons over stoking hate towards MPs, to which the Prime Minister memorably replied ‘humbug’.
After four years in Parliament she was edged out by the Conservatives by less than 2,000 votes. In March she revealed she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and vowed to ‘kick its ar**e!’
In May she announced she had been given the all-clear, and told MailOnline that in the summer she took up a part-time role in the mental health team at NHS England.
She also joined Liz McInnes on a slate for the recent NEC elections, but was unsuccessful.
Now: Honorary president of the Socialist Campaign Group
The Beast of Bolsover was finally caged last December after a staggering 49 years in the House of Commons. First elected in 1970 when Ted Heath defeated Harold Wilson to become prime minister, Skinner has spent five decades tearing strips off Conservative politicians from the green benches.
Dennis Skinner spent five decades tearing strips off Conservative politicians from the green benches
His quips to Blackrod at the State Opening of Parliament became a staple of the ceremony, and he bowed out of politics as the second longest-serving MP (Ken Clarke was sworn in earlier on the same day).
A former miner and lifelong left-winger, Skinner was made president of Parliament’s Socialist Campaign Group in March 2020, an honorary position as he is well past the age of retirement.
Now: Boss of free speech nonprofit
Smeeth was elected to Parliament in 2015 – the election that paved the way for Corbyn’s leadership and an era dogged by cases of anti-Semitism.
As a Jewish MP in the party, Smeeth said she suffered a slew of abuse including death threats, which led to her being given police protection.
After losing her seat to the Tories, which overturned her 2,359 majority, she was in June 2020 appointed chief executive of the Index on Censorship, a nonprofit that defends free expression.
Wolverhampton South West
Now: Retired/director of ‘social support network’
A former nurse who was elected to Parliament in 2017, only to lose the seat two years later. Unlike many traditional Labour strongholds which flipped blue for the first time, Wolverhampton South West is a usual bellwether and swings between the Tories and Labour.
On Companies House, she is listed as a director of the Social Support Network, a limited company launched in May 2020 which claims to do social work. She states her occupation as a ‘retired MP/nurse’.
Crewe and Nantwich
Now: Trade union staffer
Smith went into the 2019 General Election defending a razor-thin 48-vote majority that clinched her the seat two years prior.
She lost, but remains active in Labour politics, as national political officer for Unite, the trade union that bankrolls the party.
She was also elected a councillor in February and founded a campaign group called No Holding Back with John Trickett and Ian Lavery.
‘We must build a movement to change British politics forever, by organising, empowering and increasing the representation of working class communities,’ it states as its mission objective.
When then Labour MP Tristram Hunt was offered the directorship of the V&A museum and resigned the Stoke seat, it paved the way for the February 2017 by-election that would propel Snell from councillor to parliamentarian.
Two years and 10 months later and his time in the Commons ended when Tory Jo Gideon pipped him with an extra 2 per cent of the vote.
On LinkedIn, Snell describes himself now as a ‘strategic leader’ but his most recent job is still listed as an MP.
However, on Companies House, he is listed as the sole director and of Clayduck Limited, launched in July 2020 and believed to be a consultancy.
Glasgow North East
Now: Standing for the Scottish Parliament
In May, Paul Sweeney revealed that he was unemployed and had applied to claim state welfare
In 2017 the former shipbuilder overturned the 10,000-vote majority won in 2015 by the SNP’s Anna McLaughlin, who had had then bagged a staggering 44 per swing to the Nats.
Two years later and McLaughlin claimed the seat back and for now ending rising star Sweeney’s Commons career.
For a while it looked like he would remain in frontline politics, and he joined Angela Rayner’s campaign for the deputy leadership.
But in May, Sweeney revealed that he was unemployed and had applied to claim state welfare. In a moving tweet he wrote: ‘It’s the first time since the age of 14 that I have been unemployed. A disorienting experience in the midst of a pandemic lockdown.
‘I have completed my online application for Universal Credit, which was actually reasonably straightforward. Now to wait for the DWP to call me back.’
He was recently selected to stand in the Scottish parliamentary elections as the Labour candidate in Glasgow next year.
Now: ‘Community champion’
Since its creation in 1974, Redcar had never been won by the Tories and, barring one Lib Dem victory in 2010, had been held by Labour.
But as the Red Wall crumbled and Brexit-voting towns backed Boris Johnson, the North East coastal seat returned a Conservative MP for the first time, rejecting Turley, who had been its representative since 2015.
Until October 2020 she was a director of the Redcar Development Trust, a position she has held since 2013. She has also launched the Redcar Book Club, to raise money – so far over £6,000 – for books for children this Christmas.
On LinkedIn, her most recent career is listed as an MP, but she describes her self as a ‘public policy leader, social justice advocate & community champion’
Now: Education consultant
In November this year Thelma Walker tweeted that she had resigned from the Labour Party
In November this year Walker tweeted that she had resigned from the Labour Party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn being stripped of the party whip following a lack of apology for the damning EHRC report into antisemitism.
The former headteacher is now an education consultant in the Leeds City region, according to her LinkedIn.
She lost her Yorkshire seat in 2019 to the same Conservative, Jason McCartney, who she won it from in 2017.
Now: Scottish parliament candidate
The former primary school teacher won the Scottish seat from the SNP in 2017, going into last December’s election defending a 3,000 majority.
It was easily overcome by the SNP, whose Kenny MacAskill won by 21,000 votes to Whitfield’s 17,000.
Having been ejected from the Commons in Westminster, Whitfield will now make a stab at becoming a member of the Scottish parliament, having been selected to fight the East Lothian seat in next year’s Holyrood elections.
After his two years as an MP came to an end, Paul Williams returned to the NHS frontline as a doctor in the North East as the pandemic put hospitals under strain
Now NHS doctor and PCC candidate
After his two years as an MP came to an end, Williams returned to the NHS frontline as a doctor in the North East as the pandemic put hospitals under strain.
He regularly posts photos and videos of himself from his ward, recently uploading a photo of him in scrubs and with the caption: ‘Thank you to all the emergency workers, care workers and others who will be at work throughout December and the Christmas and New Year period keeping our community safe and protecting those in need.’
He is also standing as a candidate for Cleveland’s police and crime commissioner in the election next year.
Now: ‘Taking it easy’
Last year, the County Durham seat formerly represented by Tony Blair returned a Conservative MP for the first time since 1931.
Support in Brexit-backing Sedgefield ebbed away from Wilson, whose vote share was cut by 17 per cent. He was first elected in 2007 when the resignation of Labour’s most successful leader ever prompted a by-election.
During the final stages of the Labour leadership in April, Wilson wrote a 7,000-word tour-de-force in the New Statesman lashing out at the era of Corbyn and urging the party to turn its back on Corbynism.
Wilson told MailOnline he is now ‘taking it easy’ and his Twitter bio says he’s ‘staying calm and listening to jazz’.
The former English teacher served just over four years as the MP for Burnley until she was unseated following an impressive 9.4 per cent swing to the Tory candidate.
After being unseated in December, Forbes joined a select club of MPs to serve less than a year in Parliament – she lasted only 149 days following the Peterborough by-election in June.
But she remains a ferocious political tweeter and has hinted about another election run, ‘liking’ a message from an ex-constituent saying she’ll be ‘back in no time’.
Vale of Clwyd
‘Never say never,’ said Ruane when asked last December if, after 22 years in Parliament, he would ever consider standing again.
The former primary school teacher had already staged a career comeback after losing in 2015 to Tory James Davies, only to reclaim the Welsh seat in 2017.
But Davies mirrored the feat of his longtime constituency rival last year and won again, despite comedian Eddie Izzard joining Ruane on the campaign trail. It is not believed Ruane has taken up another role.
After serving Bishop Auckland since 2005, Goodman was replaced by social media-savvy 26-year-old Dehenna Davison in the Tory rout on Red Wall seats.
In her concession speech on election night, she called for fresh leadership to rescue Labour from 10 years in Opposition.
In January she joined Emily Thornberry’s campaign for the top job as treasurer, but faded away from frontline politics after the failed bid.
She still makes sporadic contributions on social media and in May tore into Dominic Cummings for allegedly breaking lockdown rules, writing an article revealing she had not been able to say goodbye to her 93-year-old father, who was in a care home.
Heywood and Middleton
Now: Unknown (recently had a failed NEC bid)
McInnes was elected to Parliament in the 2014 Heywood and Middleton by-election, triggered by the untimely death of Jim Dobbin on an overseas trip.
Although supportive of Owen Smith’s challenge to Corbyn’s leadership, the former NHS biochemist served on the Opposition frontbench for most of her period in the Commons.
Evidently not intent on quietly retreating from Labour politics, she last month tried to win a seat on the party’s powerful National Executive Committee – notorious for its brazen factionalism, with elections fiercely contested by rival wings of the party. However she failed in her bid, but continues to be active on social media.