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Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Sunday, 18 July 2010 17:53 UK

Finding work for unemployed MPs

James Trollope
Politics Show
BBC South East

149 MPs decided not to fight the last election.

One day they are members of parliament, the next members of the public looking for a job.

Politics can be a cruel business for those defeated at the general election. So what has happened to our former MPs?

Well, a record number saw the writing on the wall and stood down before facing the voters.

Nationally 149 MPs decided not to fight the last election.

In our region, seven MPs fought and lost. All were Labour except for Conservative, Nigel Waterson who, after 18 years, lost his Eastbourne seat.

Six of the former Labour MPs were elected in the Labour landslide of 1997 except for Celia Barlow who became MP for Hove in 2005.

Finding work

So how easy has it been for this group of seven defeated MPs to find another job?

The average age of the group is 56 statistically not the best age to be seeking work.

Angela Baron from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development said:

"Quite a lot of the jobs that might have mopped up some of these people are just not going to be there in future because of public sector cuts."

Paul Clark

Paul Clark

When we contacted our group of seven only Paul Clark, the former transport minister and MP for Gillingham, was willing and able to talk to us on camera.

Many were still feeling bruised after the election.

"I suppose it's a bit like a death in the family," said Mr Clark.

"Even though you know it's going to happen it still comes as a bit of a shock."

Nigel Waterson

Nigel Waterson

However, I spoke to all but one of the group on the phone and asked them about their plans for the future.

Nigel Waterson, may have lost his Eastbourne seat but not his sense of humour.

"I'm thinking about becoming a drug dealer," he quipped. Joking aside, he's "considering all sorts of possibilities"

Jonathan Shaw

Jonathan Shaw

Jonathan Shaw, the former Minister for the South East and Labour member for Chatham and Aylesford was less forthcoming.

"I've completely withdrawn from public life" he said.

Gwyn Prosser

Gwyn Prosser

At 67 ,Gwyn Prosser the former Labour MP for Dover is the oldest of the group.

He said although defeat was disappointing:

"The silver lining is I've got my life back".

Dr Stephen Ladyman

Dr Stephen Ladyman

Dr Stephen Ladyman, who represented Thanet South for Labour has already started his new job as chief executive of a retirement housing group.

Currently he's abroad on holiday.

"I've been fortunate," he said, "but I've heard a lot of my colleagues are struggling."

Michael Foster

Michael Foster

Labour's Michael Foster is planning to return to work as a solicitor.

He hopes to open an office in his former constituency of Hastings.

"I'd rather be doing the other job. If there's an early election I'd consider standing."

Celia Barlow

Celia Barlow

Celia Barlow, the former Labour MP for Hove, didn't wish to speak me.

Her campaign manager said she was still hurt at the loss of her job and wants to focus on her three teenage children.

"She doesn't know what the future holds," he said.

But before you start feeling too sorry for our group of seven, it is worth considering they are not leaving parliament empty handed.

All will receive a resettlement package calculated on length of service and age.

The longest serving of the group Nigel Waterson who is 59 will receive a years salary - £65,738.

While Celia Barlow, who served for the shortest period, qualifies for half of that.

The others will be paid something in between with the first £30,000 tax free.


And then of course, there is an inflation linked pension which is considerably more generous than the majority of other schemes.

The 5 with 13 years of service will be entitled a pension of £19,638 rising by 2.5 per cent each year until retirement at 65.

Although the severance package might seem overly generous to some, others believe it is a just reward for a demanding but insecure job arguing that if the benefits were to be reduced so would the quality of candidates.

"You have to make sure you're getting the right balance between rewarding people properly and giving them the right kind of support when they leave politics but not over rewarding them or over compensating them," said Angela Baron.

Some firms may value a former politician's knowledge of the corridors of power.

But one leading head-hunter, Sam Allen from Sam Allen Associates, thinks the public outcry over expenses may have damaged their job prospects.

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