Sir Peter Tapsell, Father of the House and MP for Louth and Horncastle, has just announced his intention to stand down in 2015.
First elected in 1959, he has served almost continuously in the Commons for the last 55 years – apart from a break between losing his seat in 1964 and returning to the green benches in 1966.
When Sir Peter was first elected, Winston Churchill still sat as an MP, Bobby Darin was poised to seize the Number One spot with ‘Mack the Knife’ and Queen Elizabeth II had been on the throne for only seven years. It’s to his lasting credit that he has not only seen out such huge changes in the world during his long career, but he has remained a very active parliamentarian (and ardent backbencher) throughout. His regular appearances at Prime Minister’s Questions have become an institution in recent years.
The announcement adds Louth and Horncastle to the roster of Conservative-held seats which still need to select candidates for next year’s election, of course. With a 49.6 per cent share of the vote in 2010, a majority of 27.5 per cent (13,871 votes), would-be MPs will no doubt be starting their researching and awaiting the starting pistol on the selection process. Whoever wins may well find it’s a tall order to succeed an MP with such a lengthy career.