THE Woman whose election night defeat of Ed Balls provided the Conservatives with their biggest scalp in a generation has set out what next for her fledging political career.
Andrea Jenkyns, the new Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood, has made clear she is not the sort of politician who sees herself been pushed around by party whips, and spoke of her mission to toughen up health standards.
Ms Jenkyns was inspired to enter politics after her father died from a hospital acquired MRSA infection, the result of a routine procedure going wrong in 2011.
She then campaigned with the charity MRSA Action UK, and is still a voluntary Yorkshire representative.
“A year after his death I was giving a talk for the charity and I just didn’t think the message was getting across, and I thought sometimes the only way to change things is policy wise and stand for parliament, so I did.” Ms Jenkyns said.
Within a month of being selected she had moved in with her mother in Yorkshire, put her house on the market and got started back in Morley.
Over the next two years she sent out “more than half a million pieces of literature out” and became the face voters recognised locally.
Ms Jenkyns, who lives with her two Mini Schnauzer dogs called Lady and Godiva, said the campaigning has meant she hasn’t had an enviable work life balance for the last two years.
“It’s a privileged to be here in Parliament, but it won’t be easy. We only have a workable majority of ten, so we need to be here a lot, and making sure that when I’m back in Morley and Outwood I maximise my time there.”
Ms Jenkyns said she wants to see better reporting of hospital infections in order for the issue to be given the attention it deserves by health chiefs.
But, she said, she is far from a single issue MP.
She said: “What type of Conservative am I? Fiscally, economically very Conservative.
“But then on issues of animal rights I’m more to the left I think, I take animal rights quite seriously, I’m a vegetarian, I am against the badger cull.”
That commitment could well see her vote against her own party on some occasions, with one difficult conversation already taking place with the whips office.
“I’m against fox hunting. I have already told the whips this, and that I would vote against repealing the ban, in my first meeting with them. I’m more liberal on those things.
“You have to vote with your conscience. If you sit on the fence on something you are not passionate about then you look to the electorate for guidance, for what works for the constituency, but I want to sleep at night, I won’t vote for something I disagree with.”
The former teacher has seen things calm down a little since the election campaign, a job battle she insists she knew she would win.
“Did I expect to win? I had a feeling I was going to, right from the beginning really.
“I had this adrenaline rush in my tummy when I got selected, I just felt I was going to do it. There’s not really a logical reason to explain it, but it’s what I felt.
“In the month before the election I felt not quite so optimistic, a bit of a panic, but then a week before we had 50 Labour voters tell us they were coming over to us.
“50 in one week, we’d never had that before in two years of campaigning. You could see the tide changing.
“There were a lot of reasons for that, but some said they never saw Ed Balls around, but his work as shadow chancellor explains that.
“I went all out to win, you don’t give up your house and your job if you do not want to win.”