With an election due, Gordon Brown needs all his troops in order. So it's sad to learn that Sion Simon, charismatic member for Birmingham Erdington and Under-Secretary of State for Creative Industries, is considering standing down not after but surprisingly before the next election. Simon caused a stir when he spoofed David Cameron with a video of himself in a baseball cap pretending to be the Tory leader and offering to let people sleep with his wife. Since then his other major achievement was to have been embroiled in the expenses scandal and asked to pay back a reported £20,000 in second home expenses.
"Actually, it's pretty bad form," says one Labour insider. "To lose with dignity at the election is one thing but to quit before it has even started sends a very bad signal."
UPDATE: There seems to be some speculation on Twitter that Sion Simon intends to leave politics due to problems with his eyesight. If so, that is sad, although David Blunkett managed to do OK, it has to be said. I just came across an interview he did with the Fabian Society, which is, er, interesting.
“Why did you decide to become an MP after being a journalist?”
SS: “Richard Littlejohn has a comparison I often quote. If you have 100 people in a room and you create a crisis, 95 of them will mill around in the middle talking to each other. One or two of them will gravitate towards the front, stand up on a table and start trying to tell the 95 others how to get out of whatever predicament they are in. They are the politicians. And another one or two weird people will gravitate towards the back of the room and start throwing bottles at the people at the front of the room. They’re the journalists. I think that is a very accurate summary of the psychology and the function of journalists and politicians. I was quite a good bottle thrower and I enjoyed it, but ultimately being one of the people standing at the front, taking a risk, saying okay here I am, hit me with the bottles, this is the way I think we should go, is a more valuable and worthwhile position to take.”
“Which policy areas are you going to concentrate on as an MP?”
SS: “I don’t have any, I’m deliberately not focussing on anything. It’s a very strange job being an MP, you have to be here an awful long time, 14 hours a day, but only two of them are structured. In the rest of the time people concentrate on their specialisms, which is a good thing, if that’s what you like. But it’s not really me, so I’m writing a fiction book, and I’m planning a political book. Reading a lot, thinking a lot. Basically, one of the reasons why I wanted to be a politician is that in ten or fifteen years time there’s going to be an epoch making discussion about what it means to be left wing in Britain, and I want to be part of that discussion.”
Looks like he’s leaving Parliament just in time to leave being part of that discussion...
UPDATE: Sion Simon has denied the Evening Standard story in today's Birmingham Post.