Ming Campbell announces he’s to retire as MP in 2015

Ming Campbell, Lib Dem MP for North East Fife since 1987, has today announced his decision to retire from the House of Commons at the next election.

It’s been an enormous privilege to have been an MP for 26 years and to represent such a wonderful constituency as North East Fife. My wife and I have made many friends and have been supported by constituents of all political persuasions and none.

It is always a regret to begin the process of retiring from the House of Commons but I believe now is the time to start. I have written to Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, and to Harry Wills, chairman of the North East Fife constituency party.

Here’s the profile of Ming from his website:

Ming Campbell is one of the most respected and successful politicians of his generation.

He grew up in Glasgow, was educated at Hillhead High School and went on to the University of Glasgow. where he was a contemporary of both John Smith and Donald Dewar studying Law and debating in the Union.

Ming Campbell held the British 100 metres record between 1967 and 1974As a successful university level athlete Ming ran the 200m for the GB team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and become captain of the UK Athletics Team 1965-66. He held the British 100m record from 1967 to 1974.

In his professional legal life Ming was called to the Scottish Bar as an Advocate in 1968, but continued an association with the Scottish Liberal Party which he had held since University. In 1975 he became Chairman of the Scottish Liberal Party, and in 1982 a Q.C.

Ming is a strong and effective grassroots campaigner: in the General Elections of 1979 and 1983 Ming worked the constituency of North East Fife, for decades a safe Conservative seat. Each time he reduced the Tory majority, bringing the Liberals closer to winning, until 1987 when Ming won with a majority of 1,447. Since then Ming and the local team have achieved large Liberal Democrat majorities as his local, national and international profile has grown.

In Parliament he has served primarily as a defence and foreign affairs spokesman, becoming Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs since 1997 and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in 2003.

He was the Leader of the Liberal Democrats from March 2006 until October 2007.

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  • A true Liberal, Ming is probably best known for his work in foreign and defence affairs, but it’s worth remembering how well he was appreciated by his constituents in North East Fife. I remember standing outside the County Buildings as a 13 year old on the night Ming was elected, and after all the hard work he and the local party had put into the election it was just sheer elation. It is difficult to canvas in North East Fife without Ming’s name coming up – he very quickly became known locally as a hard-working MP who stood up for his constituents, but at the same time having a great ability to be able to relate to people and hold a conversation with not only academics at St Andrews University, but also with the fishermen of the East Neuk and the farmers in Howe of Fife. His popularity meant that the public meetings he held virtually every night of both the 1987 and 1992 elections were frequently full, and the old adage of “more chairs had to be brought in” usually rung true!

    Much as I regret Ming’s retirement, I know it will have been something which he has been considering and wrestling with for a while, and given his hard work locally since 1987 he certainly more than deserves it. Whoever is selected in North East Fife will have a difficult pair of shoes to fill!

  • Will be missed, BUT that is another seat that will now go at the GE, he would probably have hung on.

  • He will be missed; charm, intelligence and wisdom, gawd we can’t have too many like that.

  • Thanks for the long service, Ming.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 9th Oct '13 - 4:43pm

    I’ll be sorry not to have his voice of reason on international matters in Parliament. He’s a wise man and a great statesman.

    Ming, Malcolm, Stunell and Beith clock up over 100 years of parliamentary experience between them. Our next batch of MPs will be much poorer without them.

  • @theakes – don’t think so. I agree that Ming would have won it easily had he stood, but I don’t think that it will be lost come the election. People in North East Fife are generally used to voting Lib Dem and there will still be an encombancy factor; we’ve only lost one election there since 1983 (the 2011 Scottish election, and the reaction to that on the doorstep since has genuinely been “we didn’t mean that to happen”) and there are a lot of people still who will vote for someone if Ming thinks they’re good enough. That said, there’s no doubt there will be a strong challenge from both the SNP (if they’re not in all-out civil war after losing the referendum) and the Tories to take the seat, but I still think that we’ll hold it because of all the hard work put in over the last 35 years since Ming was originally adopted (and still being put in).

  • Sounds like he is trying to undermine Nick Clegg to me. How dare he announce this, he’s just another Sarah Teather. Oh wait, this is what he said about her …

    Won’t be missed.

  • Keith – ‘and there are a lot of people still who will vote for someone if Ming thinks they’re good enough.’

    Nothing to be proud of, frankly in a democracy it’s a disgrace. In any event, this seat will be lost come the GE. I suspecting we will be down to 22 seats.

  • We will be less wise without him.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Oct '13 - 6:14pm

    I thank Ming for his long service and writing to us on here.

  • An exceptional MP. Any party would be proud to have had him as a member, let alone leader.

    Unfortunately his seat is now lost to the Lib Dems for the foreseeable future.

    The anti-Tory tactical vote will probably now go to Labour.

  • Richard Shaw 9th Oct '13 - 6:36pm

    Ming has served his country, constituency and party with distinction and will be a sorely missed presence in the Commons.


    How is it a ‘disgrace’ for someone to vote based on the track record, opinion or endorsement of someone whom they respect? They still have freewill after all.

    I think estimates of however many seats we’ll lose would be more credible if commenters told us which seats will be lost and to whom. As it is, they’re no more credible than me saying the Conservatives will be the largest party on Sheffield Council come next May!

  • nuclear cockroach 9th Oct '13 - 9:21pm

    Can anyone, please, tell Ming to withdraw his resignation. It’s the wrong time for his party, and he has still so much to contribute. Please.

  • David Allen 9th Oct '13 - 11:14pm

    The pity is that he didn’t run for the leadership a little earlier in life, when he was at his peak, and would have done extremely well. By the time he did run, he was slowing down – though still streets better than his successor, of course.

  • @g – Labour have never got above 17% in North East Fife. In contrast, the Liberal / Lib Dem vote has never fallen below 40% – the last time that happened was in 1979 on the East Fife boundaries.

  • Keith Legg – I appreciate those figures. That part of the world has a very large anti-Tory majority (partially responsible for Ming’s vote) though, and let’s face it, a vote for the Lib Dem’s is a vote for the Tories is a claim both Labour and the SNP will make in their literature.

  • Also, further to my last comment. The Lib Dems in Fife council elections took a hammering last year. Their vote is declining.

  • Dan, I can see his constituency from my front room…

  • A good liberal who will be sadly missed. I wish him well in all he does.

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