John has enjoyed a long and high-profile political career in which he progressed through the ranks from junior whip to serve in a number of key ministries and was at one time Chairman of the Conservative Party. Most notoriously he served as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food under both Margaret Thatcher and John Major and is remembered (possibly unfairly) for his extreme defense of the safety of British beef. He became Secretary of State for the Environment in 1993.
Environmental issues will again top his agenda after he steps down as he has decided to concentrate his efforts on securing an international commitment to climate change measures following the failure of the Copenhagen summit in December.
John has been MP for Suffolk Coastal since its creation as a constituency in 1983 and his departure is as important a change as Richard Spring’s retirement from Suffolk West. John leaves a comfortable 18 point majority. Having stepped down before the end of the year, the constituency association will be able to select his replacement by means of a conventional open primary with 6 candidates. The process for selecting his successor will be under way very quickly.
As a “safe” seat there is bound to be a lot of interest from prospective parliamentary candidates from across the country, but surely the best interests of the constituency will continue to be served by a local candidate with in-depth knowledge and experience of the issues that confront a mixed constituency such as this.
The best way to participate in this important decision is of course to register to vote in the open primary when it take place. Registration is not yet open, however you can track the selection when it happens on the Suffolk Coastal Conservatives website.