JUST one in 10 of the MPs unseated in last May's SNP "tsunami" aim to return to front-line electoral politics.

In what analysts describe as an unprecedented generational change in Scottish politics, only four of the 40 sitting MPs defeated in the 2015 landslide say they are sure to stand for elected office again.

They are Labour's Anas Sarwar of Glasgow Central, Thomas Docherty of Dunfermline and West Fife and Fiona O'Donnnell of East Lothian and Liberal Democrat Alan Reid of Argyll and Bute, all of whom hope to win places in Holyrood next year.

But in a comprehensive survey of defeated MPs by The Herald (see results below), 35 have either ruled out an immediate comeback or declined to even discuss the prospect.  

The Herald:

The Herald:

One ousted MP, former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, has died since the election.

Professor Paul Cairney of Stirling University said: "We are seeing a generational shift of age and party. This may never be repeated."

Most of the unseated MPs were already at or close to retirement age, in their late 50s or 60s.

They include Labour's Brian Donohoe of Central Ayrshire. Russell Brown of Dumfries and John Robertson of Glasgow Northwest, all of whom told The Herald they already made up their mind 2015 would be their last election.

Others are carving out new roles in politics. They include former Liberal Democrat Danny Alexander, who is part of the campaign to keep Britain in the European Union, and Katy Clark, who is acting as political secretary to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.


The Herald: Scottish Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in Dundee ; Danny Alexander MP Chief Secretary to the Treasury speaking 16/3/13. (42771116)

We contacted or attempted to contact all 39 surviving former MPs ousted at the ballot box last May. One, Liberal Democrat Charles Kennedy, has died.

Tomorrow: why is it so hard for a ex-Unionist MP to find work?

Several defeated MPs proved very elusive, either ignoring or declining requests for interviews.

Some of the former politicians had reason to be coy. They were - after a period of post-election reflection - trying to rebuild their working lives.

Politicians shy about their prospects included the two youngest and least likely to retire, 31-year-old Pamela Nash, who used to represent Airdrie and Shotts, and 34-year-old Gemma Doyle, who was MP for West Dunbartonshire.

But many of the grandees of Scottish politics are happy on or off the record to let it be known that they have bowed out of public and working lives.

Some, such as Anne Begg of Aberdeen South, who is 60 and is pictured below, or Russell Brown of Dumfries, 64, are keeping their hands in with working or volunteering for their most cherished causes while effectively pensioners.

The Herald: Dame Anne Begg has called for more scrutiny of the new Universal Credit policy.

The handful to actually get full-time jobs include Cathy Jamieson, a former Scottish justice minister, who is back working in the charity sector; Gregg McClymont who is working in the pensions industry; advocate Mark Lazarowicz, who has returned to the bar; and Gordon Banks, who is back at working at his own building supplies firm.

Several ex-MPs have set up consultancies, including former Labour leader Jim Murphy and East Kilbride's Michael McCann, who did not respond to interview requests but is believed to be relocating.

Registering a consultancy business, however, does not necessarily mean full-time employment, sources stress.

Glasgow South's Tom Harris, a former journalist and communications professional, has set up a public affairs consultancy.

Former cabinet ministers have not struggled quite so much. Ex-premier Gordon Brown is advising an international financial house.

Former Chancellor Alistair Darling is on the board of Morgan Stanley, the investment bank, and has taken a seat in the Lords. Former Labour minister Douglas Alexander, still way too young to retired, is putting his experience in the world of aid to use by helping Bono, the rock star, with his charity and campaigning work.

Some defeated members, when speaking to The Herald, did suggest they would "never say never", raising the prospect of potential long-term returns to the fray. These included former Labour high-flier Tom Greatrex, who until May represented Rutherglen.

The Herald: Former Labour MP Tom Greatrex fined after speeding at 99mph on motorway

But Mr Greatrex made it clear his short-and-medium term focus was on working in the energy sector, his main interest as a politician.

We carried out detailed interviews with half the defeated MPs and through party or personal contacts established the intentions of the others.

But some high-profile victims of the "tsunami" failed to respond to requests for comment for on the possibility of long-term comebacks.

Professor Paul Cairney of Stirling University stressed the sheer scale of the defeat - and the lack of near-term prospects for re-election to Holyrood or Westminster - meant younger ex-MPs would now have to seek a new career.

He said: "The number who are saying they will run again is remarkably small. It would be good to know how many would have made that decision in under better circumstances.

"They, like most of us, are now thinking that there has been a huge shift in politics and that the SNP will dominate for as far as we can see in to the future.

"But, having said that, things can change. It was not that long ago we would have said the same thing about Labour."