Hilary Armstrong, Stephen Byers, David Clelland, Frank Cook, Jim Cousins, John Cummings, Bill Etherington, Doug Henderson, Fraser Kemp, Alan Milburn, and Chris Mullin. Oh, and I suppose I should include Tory Peter Atkinson for fairness.
The North-east is losing 239 years of combined Parliamentary experience and well over 100 years of ministerial experience at the coming general election. Now, some may say this is a good thing. Clearing out the old guard to make way for the next generation, creating a new outlook at Westminster, et cetera, et cetera. But I worry that the region is losing its voice in Parliament. I don’t doubt that the new candidates are committed people who believe in what they’re doing. But the Commons is very stuck in its ways and working within that system to get anything done takes in-depth knowledge, networks of contacts, and committee skills that aren’t easily acquired in the private sector or even serving on a city council.
Alan Milburn, Hilary Armstrong, Byers, and Mullin have all driven legislation through Parliament as Ministers. Kemp worked in the whips’ office for a time. Jim Cousins served with distinction on the treasury select committee and was very involved in saving Northern Rock from obliteration. All of the MPs above were unafraid to voice their opinions and use their power and influence intelligently to work for their constituents.
This region is about to lose a great deal of that special knowledge, influence, and strength. I hope the bright young things who follow in these footsteps are fast learners.