UK: What To Look Out For In A Rising Political Star

Last Updated: 4 March 2013
Article by Stuart Thomson

We all like to play 'who is the rising star?' - trying to work out which MPs or other politicos are heading for high office, could carry influence and weight and in whose basket we should place our eggs.

This topic always seems to be a favourite amongst political pundits and there is often a frenzy of commentary on this both pre and post election and ministerial reshuffles.

This judgement is, however, often just a case of gut instinct. There is nothing wrong with that but it is worth considering the reasons behind what makes someone a rising star. It should be a changing list of criteria. What makes a rising star this year may not be the same as next. Undoubtedly being good with the media has risen in importance whilst the ability to make two hour speeches is less so. But if we know and understand any criteria for judgement then we could identify what may be important in the future - social media abilities being an obvious example. This may also show us who is not so hot! It may help to show people that we would not otherwise have thought of, or maybe shows that someone we thought as being a rising star is destined to burn brightly and then fade.

Criteria for being a rising star could include:

1. Personal background - a history of activism and commitment to the party will help to build a rising stars' personal brand. There are also certain buttons that, if pressed, will impress. A background in business, law or economics/finance has often been a shared trait amongst politicians that have headed for senior office within their first couple of years at Westminster. Academics are often amongst those considered to be 'high-flyers' particularly if their area of expertise and work experience corresponds to a ministerial portfolio that they might have their eyes on. Generally speaking, having had some career outside of politics not just having been a lobbyist (normally removed from any post election CV) or a special adviser can put them in good stead. Rising stars can either conform to type, time served public servants for Labour, or fill a gap, business people for Conservatives.

2. Media profile - any self respecting rising star will know how to perform well through the media. They don't though want to overdo it. Too much exposure or a too early a profile piece suggesting that they will be Prime Minister within the next decade will simply create enemies.

3. Endorsements - comments of support from already respected and well positioned individuals will always strengthen the position of a rising star.  Such comments will often reinforce the good links and networks that the rising star has and, if they have been doing the necessary level of ground work, they will have been investing time and effort in these networks.

4. Team player - especially early on in their career a rising star needs to show that they understand the rules of the game and will support those around them (as well as looking out for themselves). Whilst being a rebel may help get selected at a local level, once in Parliament consistent opposition will not impress anyone. However there is a balance to be struck between toeing the party line and not to be seen as a robot that is constantly 'on-message'

5. Parliament - it remains at the heart of British political life and for that reason it is still important that a rising star has a strong profile in Parliament. As well as allowing them to demonstrate to their constituents that they are active on their behalf, it shows the right level of deference towards the day job, supporting the Government, holding them to account and scrutinising legislation.

6. Campaigning - the ability to stick a rosette on a donkey and for it then to be elected is nearly dead. Rising stars have to know and understand what makes a modern political campaign, including new technology. It also requires leadership-style qualities such as the ability to lead and motivate teams, creativity and, frankly, hard work.

7. Career progress - they has to be development and improvement over time.  Politicians, especially, do not arrive fully formed. There is a greasy pole to work their way up and this requires political skills - knowing and understanding what is going on, how to make the most of it, making the friends and allies needed and sidelining those who are 'not one of us'. There is no accounting though for being in the right place at the right time and having the political ability to take advantage of a situation or the pure good fortune. If promotion does come early then there is the chance to learn on the job and they have to, at least, show that they are a safe pair of hands and make no mistakes. Momentum counts for a lot.

8. Achievements - just being a good politician is not enough, there have to have been some achievements along the way already. These could be local 'wins' or  a successful campaign. There are a lot of bright young things that want to be rising stars but only those with some sort of track record that makes them stand out from the crowd will most probably end up being recognised as such.

None of these proposed criteria are mutually exclusive and some may offset others but taken together they mean that we can properly consider where the person is likely to end up. The criteria may also vary slightly between the parties but hopefully by starting to map them out is a step forward and shines some light.

This is, of course, a very imprecise science but is hopefully better than just sticking a wet finger in the air.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Stuart Thomson
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.