Scotland's defeated unionist MPs are struggling to get jobs as their networks north of the border shrink.

Many of the 40 Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians culled in May's general election SNP tsunami have retired.

But others are finding it hard to find work as their skills and contacts, once regarded as post-politics gold dust, no longer have much commercial value.

In a Herald survey of defeated or retired MPs to find out what they are now doing, only four expressed a desire to return to elected politics.

Anne Begg, the former Labour MP for Aberdeen South, stressed the sheer number of livelihoods lost in the May tsunami, and not just for MPs, but for their staffs.

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"If a factory had closed with so many job losses, we would have had our own government task force," she said. "As it is, there is nothing."

She, aged 60 and disabled, is now in a new world with no plans to do full-time work.

HeraldScotland: Dame Anne Begg

Many other former Westminster politicians privately admit a sometimes exhausting independence referendum and election campaign left them without the networks in Tory-ruled London or SNP-run Edinburgh they can pitch to future employers.

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Edinburgh West's former Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart is officially dabbling with consultancy.

However, the former systems manager and police officer, still a few months shy of 50, wants a proper job that reflects his life-long interest in public service.

But such posts, in charities or campaigns, are few and far between.

There are scores of other unemployed or underemployed former Labour politicians or Liberal figures chasing the same jobs.

Mr Crockart said: "I have no immediate intentions of running again.

"But some employers are worried.

"They think 'Will you not be running again?'

"They want to know if you will stick it out or go for a seat again.'

He has readied himself for a potential run if there is a by-election in his constituency, currently held by scandal-hit nationalist Michelle Thomson.

Ms Thomson has resigned the SNP whip as police investigate her alleged property dealings.

Mr Crockhart said: "I think the transition out of politics has been harder than the transition in.

"It has been hard. But I managed to get my first long holiday with my two sons in five years - to Boston and Cape Cod. And then we bought a beagle, called Alfie, after Batman's butler.

"So I have had time to walk the dog, think and spend more time with my family."

In a divided Scotland, public organisations and charities, he suggests, sometimes want executives who have not quite so clearly nailed their masts to one side. Not least, observers add and Mr Crockart hints, the side that may have lost the war but won the peace, the SNP.

“I think the skills are more important," the former MP said. "But being in the wrong party can be seen as a block. Scotland is a small country."

Academics have previously looked at the employment destinations of MPs - usually to track just how lucrative their work becomes after politics. Few ex-MPs in Scotland have fallen on their feet.

They include former Chancellor Alistair Darling, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Labour election strategist Douglas Alexander.

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Others have not. Jim Murphy, thought to be dabbling with consultancy, was described by a colleague as being "unemployable in Scotland".

Professor Paul Cairney of Stirling University said: "For generations there has always been plenty of work for Scotland's former politicians.

"Not particularly because of their skills, but for their networks, If they don't don;'t have networks, they are struggling.

"This is unusual. It is so unusual that it would not have occurred to me to research it until this happened. Most of the research would be how many of them feathered their nests at the end of their political careers."