Inside politics with outgoing Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood

LOOKING BACK MP Mike Wood has represented Batley and Spen for 18 years.
LOOKING BACK MP Mike Wood has represented Batley and Spen for 18 years.

Last week Parliament closed. After May 7 it all starts again supposedly with Boris, Alec Salmond and Mr Farage added to the mix.

I’m still not sure whether that makes my standing down more or less of a wrench! It should be fun anyway for those lucky enough to get elected.

I say ‘fun’ but the 2015-2020 Parliament will have to grapple with many of the issues which have confounded us in the last five years.

I hope they will finally ditch austerity and stop making the poor and public sector workers pay for the sins of the bankers, restore the welfare state and stop selling off our NHS.

Our planet is under threat as never before and we need action not words in the face of already evident global warming.

Radicalisation of Muslim youth is a problem, but the war on terror and a half-baked prevent strategy is making things worse not better.

A foreign policy independent of America and a decision about in or out of the EU can no longer be ducked.

So those ‘lucky enough’ to be elected will have a lot on their plate and a job which I found unlike any other, with no job description as a guide and expectations that grow daily.

A seven day a week commitment to speak up for and defend the rights of 120,000 people. Sometimes even against the wishes of one’s own government or party and always in the glare of what is called the 24 hour media. Every action and most votes to be examined and often traduced by the purveyors of anything but good news. A corrosive force at the very centre of our society.

In spite of this, I shall still miss a job which I always felt honoured and proud to hold.

Retirement is not something I am looking forward to in spite of the endless number of retirees who tell me they have never been happier.

I’m far from convinced but time will tell and, in the meantime, I still have two more months to tie up all the loose ends both here and in London after 18 years in post.

Until then my team in the Cleckheaton office will continue to provide the first-rate service that I feel has been our hallmark throughout. I place on record my sincere thanks to them – no MP has been better served.

Due to having to announce my retirement months in advance to allow time for selecting a replacement, I’ve been greeted for months with “I thought you’d gone” or more worryingly “I heard you were finished”.

I shall be gone by the end of May and am moving out of the area so as to spare my successor the benefit of my advice! What I shall take with me is the certainty that I have held the best job in the world since 1997.

Thank you so much for allowing me this honour and privilege. Batley and Spen will always hold a very large place in my heart.