Of all the metrics that may foretell a Conservative defeat — from depressed polling data to shrinking GDP figures — perhaps the most prescient is the number of Tory MPs standing down at the next election.
Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon (majority 628) is the latest to announce this Parliament will be his last, taking the total to 51. This figure includes former Cabinet ministers such as Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab and Ben Wallace, with more expected to follow.
There are, of course, MPs from other parties standing down too — most notably Harriet Harman, Mother of the House. But those tend to be older and are leaving to retire, rather than find a new career.
Indeed, the problem with exiting Parliament as part of a large cohort is, as many Labour MPs discovered in 2010, that it is not a seller’s market for their services. How much will a top-rank public affairs firm be prepared to offer a former middle-ranking minister with links to the party now out of power? Tam Dalyell, who left Parliament in 2005, once quipped “there is nothing so ex as an ex-MP.” Many others are about to find that out first-hand.
Will Corbyn run?
Speaking of which, could former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stand against his old party in Islington North? The now-independent MP, kicked out in 2020 for claiming the scale of anti-Semitism within Labour was “dramatically overstated”, has thus far declined to rule out a run.
Ego is hardly a scarce resource in politics, and Corbyn is not alone in his impression of his personal vote. Indeed, despite leading Labour to historic defeat in 2019, he remains popular in small pockets — including his backyard, which he has cultivated largely as a backbencher since 1983.
Yet it is a testament to how Sir Keir Starmer has transformed his party that Corbyn is largely an irrelevance. Whether he runs or not, even if he wins, it is likely to be under a Labour government opposed by Corbyn himself. Why change the habit of a lifetime?
Farewell, fashion titan
It was Edward Enninful’s last hurrah, and it was spectacular. Enninful, British Vogue’s outgoing editor-in-chief, has become synonymous with London fashion and done so much to transform it, not least in terms of diversity and inclusivity.
He could be seen last night at Condé Nast’s Vogue World spectacular alongside a whole host of stars including Kate Winslet, Stormzy and Victoria Beckham. A fitting turnout for a titan of London fashion.