Today’s announcement that local York Central MP Hugh Bayley is to quit at next Mays General Election has taken many by surprise.
He has become something of a “fixture” on the York political scene over the last 20 years. As recently as last summer he said that he would seek another term of office.
Coming so soon after the resignation of the Labour Council Leader, it is inevitable that residents will put two and two together. The extent of the turmoil within the local Labour party is becoming increasingly obvious.
Ironically those in the local Labour party who had positioned themselves to be Bayleys successor have recently been side-lined.
Scott left the Labour Council Group, Alexander is on his way to London under a cloud, Williams has just taken on the Council’s Leadership while others have the odium of failure sitting on their shoulders following four tempestuous years on the York Council.
It is to be hoped that Labour do not try to parachute an outsider into the City.
As the Westfield by election showed, electors do not like to be taken for granted and they are increasingly flexible in their voting choices.
Hugh Bayley became a generally respected figure in the City. He did the routine MP jobs well but chose to locate himself predominantly in London. In later years he was increasingly slipping out of the York scene. He did not entirely evade the kind of criticism handed out to many MPs over issues like the expense claims. He was forced to make an apology over the Union Terrace sale issue and was not shy at accepting hospitality as he drifted into the celebrity circuit in later years.
He will be remembered though as a straight forward kind of person and has done enough for the City to deserve a positive niche in Yorks political history
NB. The York Central Liberal Democrats will be selecting a parliamentary candidate at a meeting being held 15th December. The party is expected to select a York resident to be its candidate in May.