have been touched by the nice things that people have said about me (those that think
otherwise have mercifully remained silent) since my announcement that I was not standing
for re-election. But it does feel like having
your obituary written whilst still fully conscious. I
am in fact very much alive and kicking and, contrary to some expectations, remain a loyal
member of the Labour Party. The whips can be
assured that I do not intend to be demob happy and over the next one, two or
three years, I will be expressing my loyalty in exactly the same way as I have since first
being elected as a Labour councillor in 1980!
typecast as a rebel was never what I wanted but the inevitable consequence of
short-sighted policies like cutting lone parent benefits to save £65million on a budget
that ended up £1billion underspent or, worst still, following Bush to war in Iraq. Though I have occasionally been given the chance to
actually defend Government policy (usually in a science related area) and was even once
praised by Alastair Campbell for my performance, sadly, I see no likelihood that the
expected change in the top job will increase the receptiveness to my sort of friendly
scrutiny and help reduce the hard slog of being a backbench critic. After 15 years in Parliament and being nearer 60
than 50, it felt like time for a change. I
definitely fancy working less than 75 hours a week, something I know I would not be able
to do whilst retaining this job.
has been a real privilege to represent the wonderfully diverse constituency of Selly Oak
for so long and I have been greatly enriched by the experience. Both the ward I represented as a councillor and the
constituency were hard-won from the Tories and I am particularly proud of hanging on to my
council seat in the year of the Falklands war, when so many safer seats were lost I
have never felt new Labour had much to teach me about winning elections. The boundary changes left new constituencies that
have less appeal and, to put it mildly, the Blair inheritance is a weakened Party devoid
of so many of its most committed and active former members.
I am especially grateful to those that remained and have been such a support
to me in my present constituency and to those in the new constituency who told me they
were looking forward to having a real Labour MP.
I know some feel let down by my decision but they are the reason I have
remained in the Labour Party too. Despite
efforts to woo me away, I still feel that the Labour Party is the only party that can
achieve the fairer and more equal society that I long for and I am encouraged by the
commitment being shown by some of the next generation of Labour politicians. I sincerely hope we see a Labour Government after
the next election but one that can restore trust in our Party and faith in our democratic
institutions. I stand ready to help!