John Austin is standing down from Erith & Thamesmead at the next General Election. It's supposedly a relatively safe seat but is anything safe for Labour now?
The seat is one of eleven south London seats for which the Conservative Party will select as a group - as noted last week.
This statement from Mr Austin appears on ePolitix:
"It is unlikely that there will be a General Election before late
next year or 2010; in either case I will then be over 65, and 70 by the
end of the next Parliament. At present I feel fit and
well and I had thought of delaying a decision until I reach 65, but
that would have been unfair on the Party and risk the possibility of
being so close to an election that there might not be time for a full
selection process if I chose to stand down then. Erith
& Thamesmead is one of the most challenging constituencies with one
of the highest levels of casework and whilst I feel fit, active and
enthusiastic now, I am not sure that I will want to be working a 7 day,
70 hour week when I am 70."
An "innovative" selection process for south London seats is being considered in which candidates interested in any of the eleven seats below have to to apply to them all as a group rather than just applying to the one they are most suited to:
Bermondsey & Old Southwark
Camberwell & Peckham
Dulwich & West Norwood
Erith & Thamesmead
Greenwich & Woolwich
Lewisham West and Penge
Mitcham & Morden
Candidates must submit a single non-specific CV and be available to go to interviews for any of the seats throughout September, October and November.