WHEN I wake up on Monday, March 30, my political career will have come to its end.
Parliament dissolves, to use the correct term, at one minute after midnight that day.
This will be the first election since 1982 when I am not a candidate.
I fought a ‘safe’ Labour seat in 1987 and was delighted to be selected as my party’s candidate for Worcester in 1990 and then to win the seat in a tough contest in the 1992 election.
It was not an easy decision to seek to contest the new Mid Worcestershire seat at the 1997 election, but it was the only way I felt I could continue to represent the county in Parliament at the time of the Blair landslide.
At the subsequent elections – 2001, 2005 and 2010, the people of the county were kind enough to trust me to represent them in Parliament.
What change we have seen in those years.
I’m especially pleased that Worcestershire is now one of the fastest growing parts of the West’s fastest growing economy – and that local unemployment has tumbled.
I’m delighted that so many of the campaigns I have worked with succeeded – campaigns like the re-opening of the Droitwich canals, the building of the Wyre Piddle by-pass, the (significant) redoubling of the Cotswold railway line, the reopening of the Regal Cinema in Evesham, the safeguarding of Hartlebury Castle, the taming of the killer road, the A449, and the fights against the eco town at Long Marston and the ill-conceived asylum centre at Throckmorton.
I’m sorry I won’t be the MP when Worcestershire Parkway station opens or when a low noise surface is applied to the M5, but is good to know they’re both going to happen soon.
There’s much for my successor to do, though; for example, the county still gets a rotten deal on school funding.
To all of you who voted for me, supported me, challenged me, brought your problems to me, and shared your hopes and fears with me over these 23 years, thank you.
Thank you for the privilege of being your MP for so long.
But now it is time to say goodbye.