''Stevenage is still a winnable seat and if, as seems likely, an election is held on May 6 2010 then Parliament will be dissolved at the end of March. This will not give my successor much time to make an impression"
Her election in 1997 provided one of the memorable moments of election night, when she and her author husband Ken Follett's credentials as chamapagne socialists were called into question when they were, er, unable to open a bottle of champagne.
Stephen McPartland (pictured), the Conservative candidate for Stevenage, requires a swing of 4% to overturn the notional Labour majority of 3,288. He has relesaed the following statement in reaction to the news:
“I am pleased Barbara recognises she has lost the support of many local people and I think stepping down was the only real option left for her. The Labour Party have lost touch with local people and there is a real desire for change. I hope to be that change, by working hard to create a more transparent form of politics that focuses on improving the quality of life of local people and tackles the issues that affect them on a daily basis. I am delighted with the support I am receiving on the doorstep and just wish the government would call an election and let the people decide”.