Saturday, 27 June 2009

Seldom Seen Boy Bows Out

Just 24 hours after the Northern Echo published a letter from me criticising our high-earning, low-activity MP, (a letter which appears to have mysteriously disappeared today from the Echo's on-line edition) Alan Milburn announced this morning to the local Labour Party that he will not be seeking re-election at the next General Election.

Others can write his political obituary. While I have been highly critical of his performance as our MP over the past few years and his health service reforms have proved to be of dubious merit, there is no doubt that, rising from humble beginnings to hold one of the major portfolios in Government and playing an important role in creating the Blairite agenda, Alan made the most of his talents and will probably look back on his career with some satisfaction. At least, every time he left something he did so of his own choosing!

Attention now will turn to his successor. No doubt ambitious local and national candidates will already be getting that little knot of excitement and anticipation that comes at the start of all political battles. The internal machinations of the local Labour Party are a mystery to me, though I'm sure fellow blogger Nick Wallis, who has just proved his tenacity and resilience by spending his annual holiday being abused on the doorsteps during his quest for European glory, will be throwing his large hat into the ring. But what about former Milburn acolyte Jenny Chapman?

I'm sure we haven't heard the last of "Six Jobs", though unfortunately, I shall no longer be able to use that sobriquet in my pre-election leaflets. The publication next week of the full details of MPs' outside earnings would have been difficult for the local Labour Party to defend had Alan continued as their candidate. As always, Alan may have chosen the right time to leave the stage - though as someone who is 4 years younger than me, I can't see him retreating into domestic bliss or digging an allotment just yet.

I suspect the local electorate will look favourably on a local candidate this time, but which way will the local Labour Party sway?

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