Friday, December 18, 2009
EXCLUSIVE: Kirkbride Confirms She Won't Stand at Election
Earlier this morning I learned that Julie Kirkbride has decided to confirm her decision not to seek re-election at the next election. She has just posted the above message on her website.
Speculation had been mounting that she had been seeking to reverse the decision she announced earlier in the year during the expenses revelations, but she never confirmed this publicly. There were certainly many in her Bromsgrove Association and in her constituency who were urging her to stand again, but in neighbouring areas marginal seat candidates were, shall we say, less than enthusaistic. They feared a backlash in their own areas if Julie's campaign became a high profile cause celebre for the media, with a celebrity independent candidate thrown into the mix for good measure.
For what it's worth, if Julie had entered a local selection contest in an open primary against other candidates, I think she would probably have emerged as the winner. But there would have been consequences. By taking the decision to close down speculation now, she has allowed the local party to move on and select a new candidate under the current selection system, rather than wait until the New Year when they would have had a shortlist of three imposed on them.
On a personal level I am so very sorry that Julie won't be sitting on the Conservative benches after the election. She is a very popular MP in the Commons, on all sides, and will be missed. Virtually every Labour MP I have ever talked to about her has only good things to say. I am proud to call her and Andrew friends and I hope they succeed in whatever field their lives now take them.