Lib Dem Jo Swinson lost her seat in Dunbartonshire East

To the casual observer, politics might at times seem like a game but the consequences of elections can be immediate and profound – not least for those MPs who lose their seats.

Just over a month on from the general election, what is it like to lose, clear out your office, dust your self down and work out what to do next?

“The hardest thing I have had to do since the election is make members of staff redundant,” says Stephen Gethins, who had been MP for North East Fife since 2015.

In the 2017 election he had won the seat by just two votes, the most precarious majority in the UK.

Last month he was the only SNP MP to lose their seat.

“It is always something that you are mindful of,” he says. “That’s the nature of politics.”

Like the other defeated incumbents he is paid for just two months from the election, not exactly the never-ending political gravy train many might imagine.

“You don’t get very long to find a new job,” he says.

“There is a balance between getting an income and thinking what I’m going to do longer term.

“I think trying to give yourself a bit of space is important and I’ve been lucky I have had lots of advice from friends in all political parties who have been through this process.”

Jo Swinson was the only Scottish Lib Dem to lose their seat in the election but she did not want to be interviewed.

She had experienced defeat before in 2015 but fought back to successfully retake Dunbartonshire East and go on to become party leader.

However, she lost both her seat and the Lib Dem top job after December’s vote.

Labour’s Danielle Rowley said she was more disappointed than shocked to have lost her seat in Midlothian.

“I was probably more shocked in 2017 when I did win,” she says.

After her defeat she had to return to Westminster to clear out her House of Commons office.

“It was strange being in parliament but not being able to go into the chamber,” she says.

“The strangest part was knowing I would not be in that building representing my home any more.”

Ms Rowley says there is an assumption that all politicians are privileged and it is not the case.

“My good friend Laura Smith, who was the MP for Crewe, had someone take a photo of her in her local job centre because he found it so funny that she should be there,” she says.

“But we’ve lost our jobs, just like anyone else losing their jobs.”

Ms Rowley expects to eventually return to the charitable sector where she feels she can make most difference in an era of a large Conservative majority.

Luke Graham, of the Conservatives, had only been an MP since 2017 and faces a similar dilemma.

To return to his background in accountancy and business or to somehow keep going with politics in the hope of an eventual return of fortune with the electorate.

“I am still an accountant,” he says. “I can still go back to that world but I don’t feel I’m finished with politics yet.

“If I’m honest I hope to be re-elected to be an MP. I haven’t lost my passion for politics and I think I have still got something to give.

“It is a setback and a gutting experience but it is what you decide to do with that next that’s important.”

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