Saturday, 6 February 2010

South-East London MPs to stand down

More to follow on the forthcoming general election in the UK (possibly to be held on 6 May 2010, tbc), but South-East London readers will be interested to know that the current Members of Parliament will be standing down on that date for the constituencies of Erith and Thamesmead, Lewisham East, Old Bexley and Sidcup, Beckenham and Orpington.

For now, here's the so-far complete list of London MPs who are standing down, together with their reasons for doing so. This list comes courtesy of

John Austin (Lab) – Erith and Thamesmead. He said he did not want to be working a 70-hour week at the age of 70, which he will be by the end of the next five-year parliament. He claimed more than £10,000 to redecorate his London flat, 11 miles away from his main home, before selling it and making £30,000 in profit.
Harry Cohen (Lab) – Leyton and Wanstead. After 26 years as MP, he announced his decision to stand down after it emerged he had claimed more than £300,000 in second-home allowances since 1990, as "part of my salary". He said the resulting backlash had caused him "intolerable stress".
Neil Gerrard (Lab) – Walthamstow. As he will be 67 at the time of the election, the backbencher said it was time for him to step down. He has served the constituency since 1992 and in 2005 was re-elected with 50.1 per cent of the vote.
Keith Hill (Lab) – Streatham. He was the first Labour MP to be elected to the seat, which he has served since 1992. Last year he argued the expenses system should be scrapped completely and MPs should be given a higher salary.
Andrew Pelling (Independent) – Croydon Central. The MP and former London Assembly member had the Conservative whip withdrawn following allegations he had assaulted his pregnant wife in September 2007, although the case was later dropped without charge.
Bridget Prentice (Lab) – Lewisham East. Having held the seat since 1992, the feminist justice minister decided to step down long before the expenses scandal broke. She made headlines last December backing a campaign to boycott pink toys for girls, saying they funnelled children into "pretty, pretty jobs".
Rudi Vis (Lab) – Finchley and Golders Green. He claimed 40 per cent of the vote at the 2005 election but is holding the country's most marginal seat – a 0.2 per cent swing would see it go to the Tories. He used his expenses to help buy a retirement home worth £520,000, but argued this was "well within the rules".
Derek Conway (Con) – Old Bexley and Sidcup. The disgraced Tory had the whip withdrawn last January when it emerged he had paid his son an inflated parliamentary salary (£11,773 plus more than £10,000 in bonuses) for his work as a researcher while he was a full-time university student.
Jacqui Lait (Con) – Beckenham. The MP was forced to repay £7,000 after over-claiming mortgage interest on her second home. Her claims also included dry cleaning bills from a company in Rye, East Sussex, where her husband works as leader of the county council.
John Horam (Con) – Orpington. He has sat for three different parties throughout his political career; Labour, the SDP and the Conservatives. He has held the seat since 1992 and his replacement is to be Boris Johnson's brother, Jo. 

Interesting to see how much the expenses scandal features in this list, though not, it has to be said, for all of them.

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