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Downfalls: 10 Political Exits Of 2015

A stunning General Election result and a series of scandals brought an abrupt end to a number of political careers.

Conservative candidate Andrea Jenkyns celebrates after being elected as a member of parliament for Morley and Outwood, while Britain's opposition Labour Party shadow Chancellor Ed Balls looks on at the counting centree in Leeds, in Britain

Ed Balls losing his seat was the defining moment of the General Election

From glorious careers to ideas that have shaped politics for a generation, 2015 was a year of political demise.

For some leading MPs, political ambition died a death on a night of drama in May.

If politics were a soap opera then on election night the script writers had gone mad. It was the plane crash in Emmerdale, the tram ploughing into Coronation Street, the fire at the Old Vic – with a dozen household names wiped off the scene in one episode.

But many frontbenchers who lost seats don’t even make the top ten – because what happened on election night wasn’t even the half of it!

Here are the top ten political deaths of 2015…

10. Yvette Cooper: The former Shadow Home Secretary has retreated to the wilderness of the backbenches after deciding she was unable to serve under new leader Jeremy Corbyn. In her bid for leadership she said she was “not convinced” Mr Corbyn wanted to be Prime Minister.

Labour leadership candidates Yvette Cooper (L) and Liz Kendall (R) applaud new leader Jeremy Corbyn (C)

Yvette Cooper saw her leadership campaign flounder

9. Sir Malcolm Rifkind: In February, the former Tory Cabinet minister was caught up in a cash-for-access scandal along with Labour’s Jack Straw. Mr Rifkind was forced to stand down as chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee. Both were later cleared of wrongdoing by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, but more questions were raised this month by an Ofcom investigation into the events.

8. Lord Sewel: Not many of us had heard of him before 2015 but we got to know perhaps more than we needed to about Lord Sewel this year. The man in charge of standards in the House of Lords was pictured on the front page of the Sun wearing a pink bra. After intense media pressure he was forced to resign as Deputy Speaker in the Lords.

Grant Shapps and Mark Clarke

Bullying claims against Mark Clarke (R) saw Grant Shapps lose his job

7. Grant Shapps: The Former Tory Party Chairman and International Development Secretary weathered a few scandals in his time but not that of the Tatler Tory. Mark Clarke faces allegations of bullying in the youth wing of the Tory party. Failure to keep him in check was pinned on Mr Shapps.

6. Vince Cable: The Lib Dem Former Business Secretary lost his 12,000 vote majority in Twickenham in one of the big shocks of the election.

5. Nick Clegg: He clung on to his seat in Sheffield but resigned as party leader after seeing Lib Dems lose 49 seats in what he described as a “cruel and punishing night.” The party of government was reduced to eight places in the Commons.

Ed Miliband unveils an eight-foot limestone slab detailing his election pledges

The ‘Ed Stone’ might have carried the Labour leader’s political epitaph

4. Ed Miliband: He had a cruel night too. Was it the bacon sandwich, the economic competence question, or just a failure to offer a compelling alternative to the Conservatives? The electorate chose more austerity and cuts over Labour’s plans to crack down on zero hours contracts and non-Doms.

3. Ed Balls: It might seem odd to give the Shadow Chancellor the number three slot ahead of his Leader, but the man who’d been a prominent feature of the party for a decade was the defining image of the night when he lost his seat of Morley and Outwood.

2. Scottish Labour: More significant than even Miliband and Balls was the death of Scottish Labour. Douglas Alexander, the architect of Labour’s election campaign, couldn’t even save his own seat from the Scottish National Party revolution in Scotland. He was defeated by 20 year-old Mhairi Black. Labour was left with one marker in its former heartland. The SNP took 56 out of 59 seats.

Labour leader Tony Blair writes his manifesto speech on a stairway at the back entrance to the Labour Party office in London in April 1997

A generation of Tony Blair’s disciples has been marginalised

1. Blairism: Maybe this won’t prove as significant for Labour as the loss of Scotland and some say Blairism isn’t completely dead, but certainly it’s on life support. The man himself said his party faced “annihilation” and was “walking off a cliff with eyes shut,” if it elected Jeremy Corbyn as Leader.

It did just that. When Chuka Umunna failed to stand for the Leadership, and Liz Kendall came last in the race won by Mr Corbyn, Blairism walked off a cliff.

It is said that at this year’s Labour Christmas party Tony Blair’s signature tune Things Can Only Get Better was played.

Corbynites sat it out while noting the names of those on the dance floor. Political deaths don’t get much bigger than Blairism. What a year!

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