Defeated MP's caseworker speaks of what happens to staff after election loss

Coun Paula Wakefield
Coun Paula Wakefield

A former caseworker for a borough MP ousted in a massive election night shock has spoken of the effect of the vote on staff losing their jobs.

Coun Paula Wakefield, who has spent the last two years handling constituency enquiries for now former Leigh MP Jo Platt, posted on social media about what happens behind the scenes when seats change hands.

Other news: Borough seat where Labour suffered shock loss resembles 'heart and soul' of party's politics, says outgoing MP

Ms Platt’s defeat was one of the most dramatic stories of election night as Conservative candidate and local councillor James Grundy secured a place in Westminster to represent a seat Labour had previously held since 1922.

Coun Wakefield spoke of her career in national politics coming to a sudden end and said it was important to remember the ordinary workers supporting MPs.

After Labour’s so-called ‘red wall’ of seats in the north of England and Midlands crumbled we can reveal what happens to the offices being wound down and the staff heading for the jobs market when the MP begins wearing a different rosette.

Coun Wakefield’s message on Facebook also contained a dig at the national Labour leadership, which has come under fire from Labour politicians who won and lost alike in the party’s heartlands.

Coun Wakefield said: “It has been the best experience of my life working with the most amazing team who were all there for the right reasons.

“For the last six weeks we have put our heart and soul into this campaign. We have neglected our friends and family while we pounded the streets every day and night.

“We have been listening for two years but unfortunately the party didn’t and that now means six people are out of jobs for Christmas.

“It has been a tough election campaign and exhausting for everybody. It’s gutting when you get to the end and you’ve not won.

“It’s too early to think about what we’re going to do next. We’re just taking stock of what has happened here and moving forwards.

“People think MPs are these public figures but they are real people with families and the people in the office are all local people who are now unemployed. It’s important people understand that.”

However, as Ms Platt’s staff have to consider their next career move Conservative supporters in Leigh will be receiving an equivalent jobs boost as Coun Grundy, who represents Lowton East in the Wigan Council chamber, seeks his constituency team.

His victory was greeted with euphoria as the Conservatives pulled off a victory even their candidate could not quite believe at first.

Coun Grundy travelled to London yesterday for today’s opening proceedings in the new parliament. He will receive advice on setting up his constituency office, which can be any size as long as the overall bill fits within parliamentary expenses’ rules.

There was considerable sympathy for staff losing their jobs on the other side of the House of Commons.

A source from Bolton West, which includes Atherton and where Chris Green held his seat for the Conservatives, said: “There is always a joy when you take a seat but from the human element it’s tough, as you know that this means that some staff will have lost their jobs, especially just before Christmas.

"No matter which MP you work for the potential job loss is something you sign up for when you take on a role in an MPs office.

"It's good to shine a light on the reality of what it is like working for MPs with the staff turnaround that elections often bring."

The process of MPs and staff leaving Parliament is managed by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

Every politician departing the Commons gets a lump sum, called the winding up budget, to pay any expenses.

This is £53,950 for anyone outside London and covers costs during the shutdown period which lasts until February 29 2020. Those who have stood in the seat they represented for at least two years also get a loss of office payment.

Staff can be employed up to August 8, with the winding up budget covering salary payments, money handed over in lieu of notice and outstanding holidays. Those who have served for two years or more will get statutory redundancy payment.

Departing MPs will receive their final salary payment on December 31, covering December 1 - 12, but most will then also receive a loss of office payment too, equivalent to twice their statutory redundancy pay.

This payment is only available to MPs if they are not re-elected after standing in the same seat they have previously represented for at least two years.