Friday, July 24, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Andrew MacKinlay Quits Parliament

There are some MPs, no matter which party they belong to, who command respect from their opponents. Andrew MacKinlay is one of those MPs. But he has decided tonight to tell his Constituency Labour Party in Thurrock that he will not be a candidate at the next election. It's got nothing to do with expenses, but all to do with the fact that he is physically exhausted and, I think, very disillusioned with the way Parliament is heading.

I have known Andrew since 1991. We met when we were both monitoring the progress of the Ports Bill through its committee stage. He was working for a trade union and I was advising port authorities. I have immense respect for him and what he has achieved in Parliament since he was first elected in 1992. He has been a courageous, independent voice, often taking on vested interested. But throughout his 17 years he has developed into a fine parliamentarian. The fact that he has so clearly fallen out of love with parliament should set off a few alarms.

I spoke to Andrew at length yesterday about his decision. He says he is "physically and mentally burned out" and that ideally he'd like a sabbatical, but recognises that this is just not possible in politics, commenting: "An MP has no deputy or substitute. In many other jobs it is possible to take a sabbatical. This is impossible for an MP". He describes the job as "unrelenting" and has come to the conclusion that "something has to give". He can't remember having a weekend off and says he is on duty 7 days a week, 365 days a year. He says this not to plead for sympathy but because he has reached a stage where he is worried for his health if he continues in this way. "I need to recharge my batteries. Life is short," he said.

Although he made the decision to quit some months ago, the debate I wrote about HERE on the Gary McKinnon case appears to have served to strengthen his resolve. I get the feeling he has grown increasingly disillusioned with the direction in which parliament is headed and has become frustrated at the inability of his fellow MPs to hold the executive properly to account.

But it is the exhaustion side of this decision that should give us all pause for thought. The job has been his life, and he is not untypical in that. Whenever Mackinlay has taken an annual holiday (which since 2000 he has taken every year within the UK) he has, each day, had his official post pouched sent on to him. But that won't be happening this year. To his wife's frustration he has, in recent years, frequently interrupted many a holiday by agreeing to pop in to a nearby television studio to do "down the line" interviews the request of some television journalist in London. She has tried in vain to restrict his "all too ready availability".

The measure of an MP’s success can be high an ever increasing case load. If they are any good they attract work like a miracle worker. This is especially true in marginal seats like Thurrock, where an MP always has to be on his toes. In turn, good MPs have an ever increasing rate of invitations in the constituency... and indeed elsewhere.

In short, if you are in a marginal seat, it's difficult to say no. And that can lead to exhaustion and burnout. Some people find it very difficult to achieve a proper work-life balance and MPs are no exception.

MacKinlay is certainly a maverick. He has a slightly eccentric ritual of a few days into every parliamentary recess going up to what he alleges is are largely empty offices/ press gallery and muttering "Where is every body? This is place looks like the bloody Marie Celeste". Indeed, I am told he did that this afternoon after having received the Daily Telegraph's missive on MPs' holidays. Not a single soul was he left them a message saying: "I came to see you - but you were not here...Andrew Mackinlay. P.S. I am working".

I want to see more MPs like Andrew MacKinlay - true parliamentarians with an independent streak. I think there will be MPs from all parties who are as sad as I am at the news.


Anonymous said...

Other MPs might be sad at this news... but I've never heard of this man before.

Were 'expenses' involved?

Anyway, whatever, good luck to him.

Dave B said...

There may be some jobs you can take a sabbatical in but the vast majority of us can't

niconoclast said...

Is this the plonker who has sought to defend the cyber terrorist facing US extradition with so called assbuggers syndrome?

Anonymous said...

Why did you wait so long to tell us, I've been hanging off my chair (point to self, must fix chair!)

Steve H said...

That's a bad loss and if you've never heard of him, canvas, it doesn't say much for your political attention span. An independent(ish) voice who doesn't have his head stuck up his fundament.

When it comes to MPs, give me a decent man whose views appal me any day over a time server whose views I share. Not that Andrew MacKinlay's views appal me in the least.

Oh, and "cyber-terrorist" my phenomenally well-muscled arse.

SteveShark said...

"I want to see more MPs like Andrew MacKinlay"

Me too - I want to see more MPs resigning like him.

They *still* don't get it.

Neither, I'm afraid, do you.

strapworld said...


I am to the right of you, politically.

But I met and had many dealings with Mr MacKinlay in my previous life and I must endorse every word you have written.

Andrew MacKinlay is a man I could confide in, knowing that was as far as it went. A man whose advice and observations were always spot on.

His constituency will lose a superb parliamentarian and the House of Commons a member who lived up to the term 'Honourable'.

I certainly wish him God speed for the future.

Well written Iain.

ps, I do hope David Cameron will use Mr MacKinlay, if the conservatives win the general election, to run something like The Police Complaints Commission. He would run such a body with
total impartiality, and run it well!

labourparty said...

Some of us knew Andrew before he was a parliamentary candidate. Whilst all you say is true, it is difficult to square his New(ish) Labour stance during 1997 and immediately afterwards (when he was made a junior whip). None of us then thought he would become one of 'the awkward squad'.

jailhouselawyer said...

"Exclusive"? Have I missed something? If it was known months ago how does it make the grade of breaking news as in scoop?

Anonymous said...

Very sad news. Any party leader worth his salt will nominate him for a seat in the Lords. Parliament desperately needs people like Mackinlay, never more so than now.

Anonymous said...

Was this idiot not tormented Dr Kelly through his questioning? Dr Kelly's agonised face reacting to the question still appears whenever Dr Kelly's name is mentioned. As far as I am concerned I have no sympathy for this person and for ever he should be remembered as the person who hurt Dr Kelly, whatever his intentions were.

Flemingcrag said...

I doubt if Andrew MacKinlay ever fully recovered from the unkind and disrespectful way he addressed Dr. David Kelly when he appeared in front of the Commons Select Committee.

If my memory serves me right he accused this proud and honest man of being a patsy. This was to be Dr. Kelly's one and only trial by the media, deserted by his bosses and thrown to the wolves with Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell's outing of his name, he was to die terribly alone a short time later.

There are some things much worse than an MP giving up on politics, the death of an innocent man for instance.

glasshopper said...

MacKinlay is "chaff".

And Mrs Canvas: "but I've never heard of this man before", can't you find a toilet wall somewhere to scribble on, preferably somewhere where the inmates might appreciate your juvenile, inane, witless stupidity more than we do.

Steve H said...

The stuff about his driving David Kelly into an early grave is nonsense. I saw most of that committee "grilling" and Kelly was stonewalling on journalists he'd been talking to without authorisation. Of course he was going to get pressed for an answer. And being called a "fall guy" and "chaff" is hardly a mortal blow.

Anonymous said...

@ stevo bevo,
Not everyone who has a general interest in politics is an obsessive political anorak...

The storyline is : If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

Maybe he was a good MP... maybe he wasn't... Haven't a clue. I don't like his moaning style though. It reminds me of that moaning Nadine Dorries.

Anonymous said...

Despite the comments of some (and I despise the troughers as much as anyone) you need to be very tough to survive the 365 days a year grind that has become politics even at big council level. Not suggesting they need our sympathy, just a realisation that it is now a hard job just like many others, and not all politicians are troughers.

Raedwald said...

Iain, I wouldn't disagree with anything you've written about Mr MacKinlay, but wonder slightly why you didn't think it worth mentioning that he's a member of the editorial board of a magazine called 'Total Politics, of which his daughter Sarah MacKinlay is Editor?

Anonymous said...

He called Dr Kelly chaff and made him feel worthless. Dr Kelly then went on to kill himself.

I'm not surprised MacKinlay is mentally exhausted.

The Grim Reaper said...

According to that Wiki page you linked to, Dr David Kelly was left incredibly upset by the horrible treatment he was given by the likes of MacKinlay just days before his death. Dr Kelly "privately described an MP, assumed to be MacKinlay, as an 'utter bastard'." Watching the footage, it's hard not to come to any other conclusion about this shady character.

I wonder how easily Mr MacKinlay can sleep at night?

Morus said...

I had a huge amount of respect for Andrew McKinley - especially after Damien Green's arrest, he was exactly what a Parliamentarian should be, and a kind man to boot.

I think he is treated unfairly over the Dr Kelly affair - he was right to challenge that the witness escorted in by Number 10 was 'chaff' (in the military sense, not as opposed to wheat), and his anger reflected the duplicity of the Executive at that time. To my mind, he bears no guilt for what happened to Dr Kelly - that lies elsewhere, not that it didn't take its toll on McKinley as well.

He was a great Parliamentarian and a good MP. I wish there were more like him in the House, and more unlike him resigning.

Iain Dale said...

Raedwald, I am not sure why that is relevant, but it is hardly a secret. Andrew is a friend of mine and has been for nearly 20 years. That's why he wanted me to have the news. He trusted me to handle it properly, and I hope I have.

Clameur de Haro said...

Iain -

It gives me no pleasure to say this, but you have regrettably gone down in my eyes over this excessively soft-focus, overly-sympathetic, and almost brown-nosing piece, which is a shame.

No mention from of MacKinlay's truly reprehensible questioning and browbeating of Dr David Kelly, when he seemd quite happy to do Blair's and Campbell's rubbishing work for them.

No mention either, that he is, (or if no longer, then he was) a member of the editorial board of Total Politics.

If your personal dealings with MacKinlay have left you with a favourable impression, then fine, but I don't think a political blogger of your standing can legitimately ignore the other factors.

Your readership is entitled to a bit better than this.

The Grim Reaper said...

Lord Dale said "Andrew is a friend of mine and has been for nearly 20 years. That's why he wanted me to have the news. He trusted me to handle it properly, and I hope I have."

You mean he could trust you to post a puff piece about how brilliant he was as an MP with the story? ;-)

As for people whinging about the "readership" of this blog deserving better, don't make me a laugh. It's a blog, not a bloody newswire service. Iain can run it anyway he damn well likes - and long may he continue to do so.

Unsworth said...

@ Canvas

"but I've never heard of this man before."

Err, right. And so?

Tricia Gurnett said...


Quite understand why you waited to post this. I waited too.

Andrew told me several weeks ago, and said he was only telling friends until he announced it to his constituency Labour Party. You respected his wish, and so did I. This comment is the first time I have mentioned it since he told me.

He says he is completely burnt out, and went on to say, "I owe it to her, (his wife, Ruth), to give her more time, and I owe it to my grandchildren, because my children certainly didn't have my time."

Andrew is my MP, and, although we do not share the same political party, he has my admiration and respect. He has always been his own man, not afraid of speaking and voting as his conscience demands. He will be a great loss to Parliament.

I am proud to call him a friend.

Anonymous said...

Was he the one that sent Dr David Kelly over the edge? RIP.


Ross said...

The one thing I remember Andrew MacKinley for is asking this question at PMQ's back in 1997:

" Does the Prime Minister recall that, when we were in opposition, we used to groan at the fawning, obsequious, softball, well-rehearsed and planted questions asked by Conservative Members of the right hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major)? Will my right hon. Friend distinguish his period in office by discouraging such practices--which diminish Prime Minister's Question Time--during this Parliament? Furthermore, in view of the rather depleted official Opposition, will he encourage rather than discourage without fear or favour, and without showing partiality or affection--loyal Labour Back Benchers who wish to seek and provide scrutiny and accountability in this place? "

Unknown said...

Thanks for this, Iain. Andrew MacKinlay is an excellent MP and he will be sorely missed from the Commons. Too many people have forgotten what it is to respect MPs from opposition parties; Andrew MacKinlay is one of the very best Labour MPs.

Thomas Rossetti said...

Pedants' corner here:

"...often taking on vested interested...

"...vested interests..." surely?

This MP may have been a good man, but working yourself into the ground is nothing to be proud of.

Jimmy Carter worked like crazy as President and ended up suffering a massive election defeat. Ronald Reagan hardly did a stroke of work and the public loved him.

Surely a good MP only gets involved when he really has to.

Anonymous said...

As you so rightly say, you don't have to agree with someone in every way in order to hold them in high respect.

Andrew MacKinlay is a sad loss to Parliament.

btw, completely agree with your advice to MPs to tell the Telegraph MYOB over their holiday plans!

DanielClarke said...

Are you joking about having respect for him? All I can think of when I see Andrew MacKinlay is the revolting and abusive way he spoke to Dr David Kelly. I am glad he is going. Public life will be more civilised and pleasant without him. Good riddance!

Keith Elliott said...

After reading the obnoxious bile in some of these comments it's amazing anyone would want to be an MP, or do any public service in Britain.

I'm really glad I don't live in the UK anymore, amongst you vindictive, sanctimonious hypocritical fools.

I know little of Mr McKinley other than that he has served his constituents and country for 15 years as an effective and independent minded Member of Parliament.

As for his treatment of Dr Kelly. Dr Kelly was a witness appearing before a select committee of which Mr McKinley was a member. He asked him pertinent and direct questions desgned to illicit the truth. You cannot blame those questions for the Dr Kelly's subsequent death.

Benji said...

Mackinlay gets a bum rap on the David Kelly affair. We know now that he had spoken to Susan Day and Gavin Hewitt about his concerns about the infamous "45 minutes" dossier,and Mackinlay,in his usual brusque manner,was trying to confirm those facts. Of course,admission that he had spoken to other journalists in the BBC would have ruined his career at the MOD,and that is why he was so disconcerted by the interrogation.

wapping boy said...

Diddums. I'm sure there are plenty of doctors, nurses and policemen, not to mention soldiers in Afghanistan who are "physically and mentally burned out", but they won't get to retire to the House of Lords with this man's fat, taxpayer-funded pension. And of course the rest of us are going to have to work into our 70s before we get the chance to retire thanks to his party's dire handling of the economy.

Can we please have an end to this sickening refrain of how people who choose to go into politics then end up somehow mistreated, or upset, or not able to see their familes, or "burned out". For ***'s sake, what do they think life in the real world is like? The next time I'm stuck in the office at 2am I'll thank god that I'm not an MP, since that's clearly so much worse.

Iain, MPs right across the board have lost the right to merit any sympathy from a very large number of us, and whoever or whatever they are deserve nothing less than total contempt. MacKinlay is no exception. Oh, and of course he'll always be remembered for his treatment of David Kelly. What a loss to Parliament indeed.

subrosa said...

How different life is for an MP compared with an military officer.

Many of the military face 365 days in the face of death, yet here we have another MP going on about how stressful time is.

Many of the military earn far less than Mr MacKinlay and his colleagues, yet then cannot just say they're leaving and still have their pensions intact.

And many of these military have hundreds of mens' lives in their hands daily.

Whilst I respect his desire to stand down I think he's ladling on the stress business. As an MP he should know the stress our military have been under for the past 1o years.

As for not having a deputy, as far as I understand it there are thousands of hopefuls waiting in the wings to be MPs. Does he now think MPs should have deputies? Auch, unbelievable.

Do tell me if the same can be said of any MP.

Peter Thomas said...

Agree with Wapping Boy. No sympathy from me, I'm afraid. Bloody Hell! They want sabbaticals now.

Anonymous said...

The real story.

Labour have signed their death warrant in Thurrock and for Andrew Mackinlay.

They have pulled the plug on the funding of a £60 million development in Thurrock.

They want to build a new motorway through the green belt.

And want to double the number of gypsy sites and build a transit camp for travellers.

brian in the tamar valley said...

A lot of comment on here about the way MacKinlay questioned Dr David Kelly in that infamous hearing and the implication by some that the manner of this questioning may have contributed to Kelly's "suicide". I've used inverted commas because we only have it on the authority of Lord Hutton that it was suicide. The evidence is so riddled with anomalies and inconsistencies that surely nobody can deem that it definitely was suicide - in fact many things would suggest that wasn't the case.

Think about this: if the inquest had been allowed to run its natural course the coroner would have been able to subpoena witnesses, the witnesses would have given evidence under oath and the conclusion as to cause of death would have been down to a jury. NONE of this happened under Hutton. It is quite possible an open verdict would have been reached.

What is absolutely certain here is that due process didn't take place. Even after death Kelly was failed by the system.

KP said...

A sad loss to parliament,anyone who has no heard of Andrew MacKinlay cannot follow politics with any degree of seriousness

PS Iain, some of the Anon comments on here must lend weight to your idea of getting rid of the troll anon's for good.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, it is sad that decent MPs like Andrew MacKinlay are giving up the ghost whilst the sleazebags hang on in there because they have nothing left to lose. I was happy to see Chloe Smith win today but the message from that by election that goes back to the Labour Party is that it is dangerous to boot out the troughers because they might trigger another by election and more humiliation for Gordon Brown. So when the next general election comes there will still be a mass of troughers incumbent who should have been ejected in the lead-up to the election but will have to be forcibly ejected by the electorate by means of their votes. This leaves many Labour supporters disenfranchised: unable to vote for a sleazebag, unwilling to vote for anyone else.

Having criticised the Labour Party I should go on to note that the Conservatives seem to have conveniently got rid of some dead-wood whilst hanging on to some equally culpable shadow cabinet members, and that the Liberal Party is currently in disarray because they are attempting to sneak under the radar with their own expenses problems:

tally said...

A loss for England too, Andrew MacKinlay is in favour of an English Parliament.

David Boothroyd said...

It's worth commenting that Andrew Mackinlay's comment "I reckon you're chaff" to David Kelly was actually 100% wrong as it turned out - Mackinlay meant that Kelly was being wrongly put up as the source for Gilligan's inaccurate report. The truth was that Kelly was the source but unfortunately his answers to the committee gave a misleading impression.

Rob said...

A great shame. Andrew Mackinlay is one of the MP's I most respect from both sides of the house. At times he has held the government to account even better than most opposition MP's, the damien green incident being a memorable example. I just hope that we don't lose Frank Field any time soon as the quality of the government backbenches leaves a lot to be desired.

Anonymous said...

It is not possible to be a member of the Labour Party and to be worthy of respect. The two simply don't go together.

To belong to Labour, in either its current iteration or its earlier, is to espouse an ideology of barely watered-down evil, of statist oppression, of the dirigiste rape of personal liberty.

Andrew MacKinlay may be a perfectly nice human being in all other regards but just one thing - the part he has played in advancing the Labour Party - renders him worthy of nothing but contempt.

Jon Lishman said...

What a generous tribute. Personal, equitable and eloquent. Refreshing.

Unfortunately, just another Joe as I am, to me Andrew Mackinlay will forever be associated with the Kelly suicide, which came so soon after the rough ride Mackinlay gave him in that infamous Select Committee grilling.

As others have suggested here, however, I'm pretty certain Mackinlay has no case to answer on that score. Clearly, he was as much a patsy in Alastair Campbell's at-all-costs defence of Tony Blair (and himself) for their illegal war as everyone else during that darkest of dark periods in British history.

In other words, he's off the hook. He can retire in peace to his working-class country pile and his gold-plated pension. I for one wish him a speedy recovery from what has clearly been a terribly traumatic experience.

Unknown said...

I don't think Kelly died alone.

If it had been suicide then why would they not have allowed an inquest?

Harry Barnes said...

To have respect for Andrew you don't have to be a political opponent, even as a former Labour MP I more than share the sentiment. And how many of my former colleagues would I say that about! From experience I would say that 18 years is a long enough stint. There is plenty of life and politics outside of the bubble.

newsed1 said...

Thurrock coming free?

Anybody told Georgina Gould?

Kryten said...

Hes my local MP, and tbh Ive been distinctly underwhelmed.

His voting record at seems to show a typical Labour MP, no dissent, toe the party line. Independent and strong minded - hardly.

Voted a mixture of for and against a transparent Parliament.
Voted strongly for introducing a smoking ban.
Voted very strongly for introducing ID cards.
Voted moderately for introducing foundation hospitals.
Voted strongly for introducing student top-up fees.
Voted strongly for Labour's anti-terrorism laws.
Voted very strongly for the Iraq war.
Voted moderately against an investigation into the Iraq war.
Voted very strongly against replacing Trident.
Voted moderately for the hunting ban.
Voted moderately for equal gay rights.
Voted moderately for laws to stop climate change.

Good riddance. Now we just need to do something about the conservative council who seem utterly intent on spying on the citizenry (chipped bins, profusion of ANPR and numerous "big brother is watching you" roadsigns). And you wonder why the BNP is making inroads in Thurrouck.

Chris Paul said...

He has decided to retire. He has not exactly "quit" and he has not resigned. Mr Pound was fun on this on Sky papers tonight stating that Mail headline had only two words that were not fibs. Being "MP" and "on". Did you give or rather sell them that rather dodgy story? Don't you have a MacKinlay working for your firm? Any relation?

Dave B 6:32 is right. Only a few careers make it easy to have a sabbatical. Academe, public service, and actually quite a lot of commercial and industrial organisations do. There's a lot of it about at the moment with big five accountancy firms, British Airways and others encouraging chunks of time off.

But those of us who cannot have a sabbatical with an ongoing employer can generally take a career break and then go back to some employer or other in the same or similar trade. MPs work in 4-5 year chunks and can't take a year off and then try to find another representative role at this level. Or put in a "sub" for 12 months.

I suppose that might be a potential feature of a list system.

Leicester tiger said...

I don't know much about this fellow, but do share respect for a constituency mp of independent mind. His questioning of dr Kelly was not to blame for the death. The role of the media and the government, especially alistair Campbell was much more significant. Also shows that true anonymity is rarely possible when speaking to reporters or blogging.

But why do the rules not apply? I mean the EWTD. Parliament accepted this from the EU and will shortly end the opt out, making it illegal to work more than 48 hours per week. Should this not apply to mps as much as the rest of us?

I have not worked less than a sixty hour week in the last 20 years, running my own business. Shortly I will be breaking the law doing this. I am not anti EU, just curious as to why politicians are not protected by the same rules.

marksany said...

Andrew MacKinlay is my MP. Thurrock has not been a marginal seat, we had one Tory MP with a tiny majority in 1987 who took the seat from a front bencher, otherwise it's been Labour with a good majority all the way.

I have met Andrew a couple of times and he is you describe, a nice guy. His politics are, like most Labour politicians, delusional. He has worked on causes in defiance of the party line, supporting the Gurkhas and WW1 "traitors" campaigns. He has been one of the awkward squad and has probably been responsible for a few broken nokias.

Thurrock is being abandoned by Labour and the Tory council is incompetent. It must be a target BNP seat at the GE.

talwin said...

Andrew Mackinley - nice man. Frank Field - nice man. Alan Johnson - nice man. Christ, we're even told that, in private, Gordon Brown's a nice man.

God preserve us from the 'nice guys' of New Labour who - in no particular order of ghastliness - were content to accompany and, when it suited them, support incompetent and/or mendacious bastards like Blair, Brown, the Ballses, Watson, Prescott, Smith, Reid, Mandelson, Harman, Nick Brown, Des Browne, Clarke, Byers, Hoon and the ridiculous Ainsworth, (along with their acolytes, Campbell, McBride & Draper), who led the rest of us (oh, and a good number of Iraquis) just about as far up shit creek as it seems possible to go

No. A plague on all their houses. General election please.

Anonymous said...

Nothing to do with the fact that Boundary changes make it virtually certain that he would lose his seat next year then ?

Anonymous said...

Iain's article is totally different from the reasons stated for MacKinley resigning in the papers today. The Daily Mail headline does not scream out that MP is tired and exhausted. It says he is pissed off over an extradition issue.

Iain get your facts right

Nicki UK (Trans Authoress) said...

I have only just come to your blog Iain, thanks to Guido Fawkes for letting me know it was here.

I would say Andrew MacKinlay was one of the few gods amongst the MPs. At least he stuck to his guns over the extridation afair where so many labour MPs didn't. I can not wait for the coming general election except we have very little choice her in bournemouth, its conservate or conservative, as at the last General Election the Lib Dems, Bournemouth East, (which i was a member of at the time) had one of the best chances and yet we got the parachutist in, figure that.

Iain Dale said...

The Mail has spun it that way due to their long running campaign on McKinnon. Seeing as Andrew MacKinlay told me himself why he was going I think your criticism should be directed elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

McKinlay has been a very good MP and it's a credit to this blog that you can rise above the party bollocks and say so.

How people behave is more much informative than anything they think.

It's a shame that the crackpot fringe of your readership is showing their basic behaviour problem and is attacking him over Kelly, thus showing their woeful ignorance of what actually happened.

Anonymous said...

Many of the posters on here are the bollocks Andrew Mackinlay refers to!

Many of you wouldn't know a good MP if you bumped right into them with a smack...

Some of the bloody Tories about the place think they're Jesus ... well you made a fine mess of the place in the 1990's.

That's why you lost the election, badly! Wake up and smell the coffee!

Tony said...

Andrew MacKinlay is not alone in having grown increasingly disillusioned with the direction in which Parliament is headed and being frustrated at the inability of MPs to hold the executive properly to account.

Perhaps he can see that our Parliament is a shadow of its former self and is increasingly irrelevant.

Our system allows the government to evade scrutiny on the floor of the House and ram through legislation without debate. The House itself is subservient to the EU. The party whip system has stifled free thinking. And consensus politics has just about strangled principled opposition.

What makes this all the more sad is the government's self interested sham reforms that amount to stuff all. We need root and branch reform but our representatives have failed us. If MacKinlay is as decent as you describe then perhaps he is too good for that nest of opportunists and climbers.

shelagh said...

Is this paragon the same man who's questioning of Dr David Kelly about WMD's was insulting and embarrassing to a very reserved man, And, after all - Who was right? Can he sleep at night?

Anonymous said...

It was interesting in 2006 you reported that Angela Smith was looking to move to Andrew Mackinlays seat because he was retiring!

Looks like your Labour sources were right back then.

Susan Clarke said...

Like many other journalists, I too feel privileged to be able to call Andrew Mackinlay a friend. This has not been an easy decision for a man with such a huge love of Parliament to make. He has been struggling with his conscience for some months. However, he went there to do a job, one that he has done superbly for the last 17 years. That job in his view, was to hold the Government to account for their actions, and probe and scrutize them when they fall short. He now feels that he can no longer do that job because the Executive, does not want to be held to account. Whilst not wanting to take anything away from Chloe Smith's remarkable achievment at the Norwich by election, the House of Commons will be a poorer place for the loss of M.P.s with years of service and experience behind them, who have the skills to probe the Goverment and not be deflected when minsiters are recalcitrant in being held to account.
Andrew Mackinlay has fought many campaigns on behalf of those who have been treated unjustly with great tenacity; including securing an amnesty for those soldiers suffering from shell shock, who were shot for desertion in the First World War. Perhaps on the day of the death of Harry Patch we should remember this. Yes, Andrew Mackinlay is suffering from exhaustion; only last week he was in the Chamber moving an amendment at 11 o'clock at night. Long after most journalists were at home in bed; but his exhaustion has been exacerbated by battling day after day, and night after night, in a parliamentary system which is no longer functioning. Journalists and politicians of all, or no particular political party loyatly will miss his presence in the Commons. He should be given a life peerage, and go to the Lords where his undoubted talents could still be deployed. He has certainly earned his place there; perhaps more than some whose backsides are currently using up space on the red leather benches. Unfortunately there is a rumour going round that these days there is only room in the Lord's for Gordon Brown's "yes men". Maybe we should start a campaign to get Andrew Mackinlay into the "Upper House". Iain Dale, you would be just the preson to lead it.

Edith Rayment said...

Anonymous at 9.54am claims that Andrew's decision might be because boundary changes mean he would lose the seat next time.
Thurrock will not have any boundary changes. It remains the same, although it is true to say that the huge Chafford Hundred development and others mean that the demographics of the constituency are changing.

Mal said...

I think it refreshing that Iain Dale can salute the departure of an honourable opponent. Sadly I find some of the comments such as Wapping Boy expresses typical of those who want a medal for making lots of money for themselves and thinking they are in the same league as real public servants. I wonder how many times he really is in the office at 2 am working ?

Anonymous said...

Edith Rayment you are wrong - Thurrock loses the ward of East Tilbury - this ward goes to South Basildon and East Thurrock.

East Tilbury is the ward the Government tried to build a superprison - dumped millions of tons of Londons rubbish and where Anmdrew Mackinlay told residents during the last election that plans for thousands of houses were tory scaremongering...

...only for a developer to announce thousands of homes a few weeks later!

Unsworth said...

@ Chris Paul

"Don't you have a MacKinlay working for your firm? Any relation?"

Interesting comment. How do you feel about the married (and otherwise) couples populating the Government at senior level? Do you feel this to be acceptable?

Unknown said...

We interviewed Andrew yesterday as he was attending the Thurrock Festival.

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