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Newcomer of 2010

Rees-Mogg Jacob Jonathan Isaby's pick: What a choice - with an excellent new crop of 147 new Tory MPs arriving at the Commons for the first time after the general election, it seems invidious to have to single out one as newcomer of the year. There are many good cases to be made: merely for the manner of their election on extremely impressive swings, one could highlight the likes of Aidan Burley, who gained Cannock Chase, and Nicola Blackwood who despatched with Lib Dem Evan Harris in Oxford West and Abingdon; for early informed contributions in the chamber, names such as Paul Maynard, Bob Stewart, Dominic Raab and Steve Baker come to mind. But my pick is an MP who I praised on the site here a couple of months back, the man who gained North East Somerset from Labour, Jacob Rees-Mogg. I still believe in the importance of the chamber of the House of Commons, and Jacob has been one of the most assiduous attenders of the new intake, always ready to intervene on an unwitting Labour MP or to deliver one of his fluent and articulate speeches, more likely than not peppered with historical references and classical allusions. He is independent-minded (ranking as the fifth most rebellious newcomer) though is by no means unthinking in his criticisms of the Government. Indeed, there was evidence that he cannot easily be compartmentalised, with his recent suggestion (with which I profoundly disagree) that the Tories and Lib Dems should fight the next election as a coalition. Whilst he will not necessarily be first in line for promotion to the ministerial ranks, he is certainly making his mark as a parliamentarian in the chamber and on the European Scrutiny Committee.  

Sajid-javid2.ashx Tim Montgomerie's pick: In nominating Sajid Javid I should declare an interest. I met Saj at university, twenty-two years ago, and we've been friends ever since. Together, we produced a leaflet for the 1990 Tory Conference arguing that the decision to enter the Exchange Rate Mechanism was a "fatal mistake". The leaflet read: You still can't buck the market, Maggie. For most of the years since those university days Sajid has been away from frontline politics, working in emerging markets. His knowledge of economic issues was evident when he recently spoke on the banking crisis. A happily married father of four, Saj is a big supporter of the Centre for Social Justice's agenda. Now PPS to John Hayes he's taken the first step towards ministerial office. He has the charm, intelligence and, most important of all, gritty determination to be a big figure in the future of our party.

Boles Nick Paul Goodman's pick: I'm probably barred by some code of conduct somewhere for nominating my successor in Wycombe, Steve Baker - who's in any event already been picked by Harry below and mentioned by Jonathan.  So now, in the words of Monty Python, for something completely different.  I choose Nick Boles.  He's an insider where Baker's an outsider - and is only eligible for this category because he's new in Parliament, having worked both at Policy Exchange and for Boris Johnson - but has this year written a punchy book about the Coalition, Which Way's Up; was the first MP to stick his neck out for an effective merger of the two parties; was similarly bold over immigration - read his main proposals here - and has taken a determined interest in the Islamism issue, which cautious spirits may have told him is best avoided.  His political life is a ecletic mix of taking a stand, chancing his arm, pushing his luck, making friends and influencing people, flying by the seat of his pants, not ignoring the Chamber and settling down in Lincolnshire.  We'll doubtless see and hear more of him in 2011.

Steve Baker Harry Phibbs' pick: My newcomer of the year is Steve Baker, the Conservative MP for Wycombe. There is a competitive field. There were a lot of talented new Conservative MPs returned this year. But Baker is especially impressive due to his deep philosophical belief in the freedom of the individual combined with his grasp of detail in such important areas as banking and financial regulation. For all his ideological rigour, he is hard for the Left to caricature as a stage villain. For instance, he asked a Minister join him in celebrating "the brilliance of some of our public sector employees, and confirm that we are reforming not because we are challenging the individuals but because we are challenging the system". Sometimes it is enough to ask a question to raise an issue. For instance he asked "the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate his Department has made of the revenue likely to accrue to the Exchequer from the sale to the private sector of (a) the motorway network and (b) the trunk road network." Michael Penning (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Roads and Motoring) replied: "This Government have no plans to privatise either the motorway network or the trunk road network. We have not undertaken any studies of the likely revenues of selling either." They should have a look at it. Road tolls would be a sensible way of reducing the budget deficit and reducing congestion. He has shown the courage to challenge the Government to go further on spending cuts. "The questions now are whether the spending review and our subsequent reforms will be bold enough to deal with the world as it is and whether we shall win the argument for change," he says. Given that his hero is Richard Cobden, the former Liberal MP for Stockport, I hope that Baker will flourish under the coalition.


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