Election campaign

Candidate update: the race for the exit shows no sign of slowing

The number of MPs standing down at the 2015 election is up to 79.

The departures keep on coming – Labour’s Hugh Bayley announced his exit late last week – which means the vacancies do as well. There’ll be precious rest this Christmas for those local parties who now find themselves suddenly in search of a new candidate, nor for the dozens hoping to get selected.

Gordon Brown’s decision to stand down, though not unexpected, has been the most high profile of the latest batch of farewells. His seat of Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath is one of Labour’s safest constituencies in Scotland. Given what the polls are currently forecasting by way of a SNP landslide, I imagine there is currently a stampede of hopefuls towards Fife, desperate to bag one of the few genuinely safe berths.

The unlucky ones can always try for Alistair Darling’s seat of Edinburgh South West, which is still in need of a candidate and which would probably also resist any SNP insurgency.

Hugh Bayley’s constituency of York Central is the only seat in North Yorkshire not held by the Conservatives. But his majority of 6,451 ought to be large enough to ensure his successor holds the constituency, though possibly by a reduced margin.

Elsewhere Labour’s selection panel in Holborn & St Pancras still hasn’t sorted out a replacement for Frank Dobson, presumably because they were faced with a longlist of no fewer than 24 names. As far as I can gather a candidate remains to be confirmed to take on George Galloway in Bradford West, while a kerfuffle is still under way in Cynon Valley after Anne Clwyd changed her mind about standing down.

Besides continuing to hunt for a replacement for Brooks Newmark in Braintree, along with candidates to take on Ukip a second time in Clacton and Rochester & Strood, the Tories now have to find someone to succeed Stephen Dorrell in Charnwood. It is a safe Conservative seat, and I wonder if the education secretary Nicky Morgan might be tempted to move next door from the more marginal constituency of Loughborough.

Richard Shepherd’s seat of Aldridge-Brownhills also remains vacant, though given it’s another safe Tory seat I can’t imagine the search will take much longer.

As for the Liberal Democrats, they still haven’t found a replacement for Jeremy Brown in Taunton Deane. Given it’s a top Tory target, they can’t afford to let things drag on too far into the new year.

I’m sure we have yet to hear of a few more departures. The rate of announcements does not seem to be slowing down, and it may even speed up the nearer we get to the dissolution of parliament at the end of March.

It’s clear that some MPs are still undecided over whether to even try and fight to become a member of the next House of Commons. Given the uncertainty of the election result, never mind a further five years of austerity, we shouldn’t be entirely surprised.

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