Charity staff look likely to win at least 14 Commons seats in the general election

Candidates from mainstream and nationalist parties talk about working on a larger canvas and fighting for social justice

Eilidh Whiteford, SNP candidate for Banff & Buchan
Eilidh Whiteford, SNP candidate for Banff & Buchan

At least 14 third sector employees are on track to enter Parliament after next month's general election.

Based on predictions made by poll-tracking website Electoral Calculus, Third Sector has identified 14 charity employees who are likely to become MPs. One of the most prominent is Kate Green, who left her job as chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group in December to become the Labour candidate for Stretford & Urmston.

Green said she was "keen to go on making a difference" and that politics was the best way to do this. "I've had 10 years' experience of campaigning in the voluntary sector and I think I know how to get things done."

She said free school meals for every child were top of her agenda.

Mark Coote, former community fundraising director at Cancer Research UK, left the charity in January to become the Conservative candidate for the ultra-marginal Liberal Democrat seat of Cheltenham.

Coote, who stood unsuccessfully in 2001 and 2005, needs a 0.33 per cent swing to win. He said politics was a continuation of his career in public service, which had also included a 22-year stint as a teacher. "It's about doing what I've been doing all my working life, but on a bigger canvas," he said.

Coote, who led 200 staff at CRUK, said healthcare was top of his agenda. He said if he had the opportunity to table a private member's bill he would make energy-saving lightbulbs VAT-exempt "to send out a message to consumers that doing the right thing does not always cost more".

Eilidh Whiteford left her job as campaigns manager at Oxfam Scotland last year to stand for the Scottish National Party in Banff & Buchan. Whiteford, who remains a trustee of Turning Point Scotland, said she enjoyed "speaking out for people" and that a seat in Westminster would enable her to do this in new ways.

"You can stand on the sidelines and moan, but if you are not prepared to throw your hat into the ring and do something, you have limited capacity to complain," she said.

Jonathan Edwards, who has taken an unpaid sabbatical from his job as a public affairs officer at Citizens Advice Cymru to stand for Plaid Cymru in Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, said his interest in social justice dated back to seeing schoolchildren "starving, basically" during the 1984/85 miners strike. Fuel poverty is his main concern.

Ten tipped to win
Charlotte Leslie (Bristol North West)
Former public affairs officer, National Autistic Society

Mark Coote (Cheltenham)
Former community fundraising director, Cancer Research UK

Rory Stewart (Penrith & the Border)
Executive director, Turquoise Mountain

Bridget Phillipson (Houghton & Sunderland South)
Women's refuge manager, Wearside Women in Need

Kate Green (Stretford & Urmston)
Former chief executive, Child Poverty Action Group

Lisa Nandy (Wigan)
Former policy adviser, the Children's Society

Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central)
General manager, University of Sheffield Students' Union

Stella Creasy (Walthamstow)
Head of public affairs and campaigns, the Scout Association

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East & Dinefwr)
Public affairs officer, Citizens Advice Cymru

Eilidh Whiteford (Banff & Buchan)
Former campaigns manager, Oxfam Scotland

  • Third Sector used Electoral Calculus predictions of 30 March of which party was most likely to win each seat in England, Wales and Scotland to identify the candidates most likely to become MPs. Electoral Calculus bases its predictions on polls from the previous two months. Only candidates who have recently been or are working full or part-time for not-for-profit organisations were included.




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