Sir Alan Haselhurst steps down after 40 years as Saffron Walden MP

PUBLISHED: 14:44 25 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:44 25 April 2017

Sir Alan Haselhurst

Sir Alan Haselhurst

Archant

After winning 10 elections as Saffron Walden’s Conservative MP, even gaining a majority of 10,000 in 1997 the year so many of his Tory colleagues were swept away in the Labour landside, Sir Alan Haselhurst is to step down.

The MP, who was returned with a bigger majority than ever in 2015, (24,991), said only last week that he was “fit and ready to go”.

But today, he announced that he would not stand in the General Election on June 8.

He told The Saffron Walden Reporter and Dunmow Broadcast: “It was always an ask to be endorsed again for five more years, at the age of touching 80. While I am comfortable in my own skin and I was returned at the last election emphatically, the fact is that because of Mrs May’s decision every Conservative incumbent has to be selected again and while I would probably be endorsed, you need to have enthusiastic backing from the (Conservative) association to be sure in your own mind.”

The MP who will be 80 on June 23 and would have held the seat for 40 years on July 7, said: “I was committed until 2020 but by 2022, I will be nearly 85. Perhaps it is stretching loyalty and friendship to prolong things in that way.”

He said in reaching his decision: “I have talked to a lot of people and listened to advice. It’s better to go out on a high than to have people asking when will the so-and-so give up. Though my first reaction was three bags full and let’s go, I began to realise there were some doubts and why risk any kind of back-biting.

“Because the election was sprung on us and there were only a few days to organise a meeting, some people said they would back me 100 per cent but they couldn’t be at the meeting, some said we couldn’t change candidates at such short notice but it was not clear that everybody thought like this and an enthusiastic background is needed.

“On the doorstep when I was canvassing for the county council elections, people said they expected to see someone much older. I am blessed with good health, people say I don’t look my age and I don’t feel it but people don’t look at that, they look at remorseless figures.”

Sir Alan said he had thought about the decision for most of last week, since the snap election was announced.

“I wanted to do the right thing for the party, myself and my family while not causing too much disappointment to the people who have supported me over the years and my staff.”

He added: “I still enjoy the work. I came into politics because I believe in the Conservative Party and I tried to be an advocate for people, to right wrongs and get over injustices and fight for causes. I am still not detached from people’s needs.

“People say to MPs, you lot are an elite, you don’t know what’s going on, but we spend our time reading letters and emails and seeing people at our surgeries, we are all too full of awareness of the hardships and tragedies people face. That’s why people come into politics. There are some rogues but most people are prepared to work hard and I work 70 to 90 hours a week. You are the people’s servant.”

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