THE START of the general election campaign on Monday (March 30) marked the end of an era for former Mid Worcestershire MP Sir Peter Luff.
For the first time in almost 30 years, Droitwich’s MP will not be actively campaigning for election and shared his memories of almost three decades of political life with Standard reporter Rob George.
“I WISH I had been an engineer, that was my big missed opportunity I wish I had taken.”
It’s a surprising admission from Sir Peter Luff, given his 23 years in Parliament which has seen him play a role in all aspects of life in the House of Commons.
But typically, Droitwich’s MP turned his own to regret into a positive and urged younger constituents to follow their dreams and not make the same ‘mistake’.
“I had the A-Levels and should have done it and built a bridge or dug a tunnel and I hope others don’t make the same mistake.” he said.
“Think about your career as soon as you can and plan because there huge opportunities out there for those who are prepared to work for them.
The dissolution of Parliament this week closed the book on almost three decades of elections for the respected Mid Worcestershire MP.
“I fought the 1987 election as a candidate so this will be first time in almost 30 years I won’t be involved. It will be very strange indeed to stand back and watch others do it.” he said.
“I think I will miss the posters and the fields.
“It’s a mixture of feelings, obviously I decided to give up because on balance it was the right thing to do and I wanted some new challenges before I finally retired.
“There is a lot I am going to miss, the constituency work especially and the chance to see into people’s lives in a very privileged way.
“I will miss the buzz and excitement in politics of course but it will be wonderful to get back into the real world again.” he added.
Sir Peter believes politics has changed ‘out of all recognition’ during his time as MP drive by both a mistrust of politicians but also because MPs are now more accessible to their constituents.
“When I worked for Peter Walker (former Worcester MP) in the 70s he got no telephone calls from his constituents because it was too expensive to ring London.
“The only means of communication was at the surgery or by post. He would have on average 15 contacts a day with constituents, that was busy.
“I get 15 or more an hour because e-mail and cheaper phone calls have changed everything fundamentally.
“In the old days people would trust you to take decisions on their behalf, now they demand action to suit their own agendas. People are consumers of politics now, they no longer delegate which is good in many ways.
“The great challenge in politics which hasn’t changed is to listen to the voice of the silent majority who often don’t trouble you at all.” he added.
Sir Peter has served a variety of roles during his time in Parliament and said it was impossible to pick a favourite spell.
“I enjoyed very much being a select committee chair which I have done twice and believe I am the only member to have chaired two: Agriculture and DOTI, subsequently Business, Innovation and Skills.”
“I was in the whips office for five years, there was a great spirit there doing things together while being a Defence Minister was a huge privilege.” he said.
During his time as a minister, Sir Peter presided over a budget of £14billion per year and said he met ‘some of the most wonderful people in the world from members of armed forces to scientists and technicians’.
“The best thing was flying upside down in a Euro fighter Typhoon at Mac 1.2 at 45,000 feet, they treated me very kindly and we didn’t pull too many Gs as they called it.” he added.
Sir Peter said there were many proud moments for Droitwich during his time as MP.
“The Droitwich Canals project has been fantastic and re-invigorated the town, it’s a fantastic achievement.
“All of the projects I am proud of have not been achieved alone, but as part of a team and being part of those teams has been a huge privilege.” he added.
In closing, Sir Peter paid tribute to the people in the constituency and said: “Thank you, simple as that.
“Sharing their hopes and fears has been a huge privilege for me and what I have been touched by is the decency and gratitude from the people of Worcestershire.
“It’s been a great privilege to have served you for 23 years.” he added.