LibLink: Ian Swales on why he is standing down from Parliament

Photo by Keith Edkins - 640px-Ian_Swales_at_Sheffield_2011Ian Swales has been explaining to the Telegraph why he is standing down as MP for Redcar.

There are two types of MP, there are those that retire at the election they turn pension age, like me, and there are those that stay here until forever, and I’m one of the former. It was never my intention to take on a full time, full-on job again at this stage.

He tells the story about how he campaigned from an apparently hopeless position 19,000 votes behind Labour, reducing the difference to 12,000 in 2005 and moving into second place. Five years later he achieved the biggest swing since WW2 winning the seat with a majority of 3000.

Once elected …

In Westminster the main thing I have done is for over four years I was on the Public Accounts Committee, the only accountant on the Accounts committee and the only Lib Dem as well. I feel we have made enormous headway there.

We have done great work and probably the most lasting work will be changing the climate on tax avoidance.

Amazon, Google and Starbuck [is] the most visible thing and the most well known.

[But] probably my most unique contribution in the PAC was actually the G4S scandal around the Olympics and the cost, the contracting behind it.

They basically ripped off the taxpayer in my view. The ripples of that … in effect led to the resignation of the Chief Executive. I don’t say that with any great pride by the way but it shows you how big the scandal was.

He adds:

What I have been surprised at is how the place is gradually being taken over by career politicians, most of whom went to just two universities, and they dominate all three main parties and the people who have got other experience don’t seem to particularly be valued.

I do think that’s sad, because amongst the 650 people, if we did it right there is still a great deal of wisdom and experience that I just don’t think is used.

For example only 10 per cent of MPs have any background at all in engineering or science. I think that causes problems. There are very few people who have actually run anything.

Those imbalances are far more important than do we have the right quota of a particular gender.

It’s not so many years since the chief executive of Asda became a backbench MP and I just can’t imagine anybody of that level deciding to do that now.

Why would you volunteer for the kind of life and scrutiny and the general public opinion that exists around it?

But …

I have no regrets. I like to sleep easily every night and look forward to every day, and sleeping easily at nights means I’ve done my best and I honestly think I’ve done that in this job.

It’s been an absolutely fascinating window on life, much broader than I have ever had before.

I’m interested in people and if you’re a student of people this has got to be the best job, because you meet everyone from kings and queens to paupers and everyone in between.

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5 Comments

  • Liberal Neil 9th Feb '15 - 2:47pm

    Ian has been a fantastic MP for my hometown of Redcar and it is a great shame that he is standing down.

    He has demonstrated that an MP with a lot of real world experience can achieve a lot for their constituency.

  • Shame he’s going, but great work winning the seat in the first place. Hope we can hold it.

  • Peter Galton 10th Feb '15 - 7:50pm

    I have seen this with career politicians when I was a councillor in Southampton. Mainly with the Conservatives, they got on the Council then after four years left. It all looks good on the CV. I feel that I done my best when I was on the Council, I was not perfect and at times could have done better looking back. I was on in the merchant navy for seven years and saw things and done things these career politicians would not have ever got near. Since then I now work in the local Sainsbury’s and still get stopped most days from residents who know me. The university of live is often the best one.

  • Fantastic. Well done Ian Swales. I do recommend people follow the link to read the complete Telegraph piece not just the abbreviated bit in the article.

    I note and am pleased that LDV has chosen to use this quote. 🙂
    “There’s two things you see going on, the cult of youth and also the sort of political correctness.
    “I think to be honest one of the mistakes all the parties make is that the imbalances are not to do with the usual equality issues, they’re actually more to do with what kind of experiences have people got? What kind of backgrounds do we have here?
    “For example only 10 per cent of MPs have any background at all in engineering or science. I think that causes problems. There are very few people who have actually run anything.
    “Those imbalances are far more important than do we have the right quota of a particular gender.”

    He does not mention former ski- instructors.

  • Ian did a great job winning Redcar and has been a really good MP for the party. It is a pity to see him stand down.

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