By Matthew Barrett
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Richard Ottaway, the Member of Parliament for Croydon South since 1992 (previously Nottingham North 1983-7), has announced his intention to stand down at the next general election. Mr Ottaway, 67, told his constituency party "I feel now is the right time to call it a day":
"Serving the Croydon South constituency for more than two decades has been an immense privilege. I have been lucky to work alongside excellent colleagues and residents who care so deeply about this great neighbourhood. Whether helping individuals resolve issues on health, education or housing, or campaigning successfully for major projects including the Coulsdon Bypass, the modernisation of Purley Hospital and the Cane Hill redevelopment – I love every minute of my job. But I feel now is the right time to call it a day. I would like to spend time with my family and enjoy my hobbies while I still can."
After the 2010 election, Mr Ottaway, a former Royal Navy officer, unsuccessfully stood against Graham Brady for the Chairmanship of the 1922 Committee, but soon after became the first elected chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. Mr Ottaway served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary during the Thatcher and Major years, and had been the Vice Chairman of the '22 since 2005.
This makes him, by my count, the fourth Conservative MP to announce his retirement in this parliament. The previous three are, chronologically:
"Last night, my colleague and friend Richard Ottaway announced that he will be not be seeking re-election as the MP for Croydon South at the next Election, at which time he will have represented the area for an incredible 23 years. Richard is unluckly that for most of this period the Conservative Party was in opposition or he would undoubtedly have held Ministerial office – he was being groomed for such a role in the Whips Office when we lost power in 1997. He did the night shift on the frontbench in opposition and is currently a highly respected Chairman of the key Foreign Affairs Select Committee."
You can read the rest of Gavin's tribute here, but the final note struck me. The Independent speculated this morning that that Boris Johnson could re-enter Parliament via Croydon South in 2015. Here's Barwell's response:
"If I am re-elected at the next Election, it is going to be strange being the most experienced one (unless, that is, a former MP applies for Richard's seat – but I can't think of anyone that might be interested, can you?)"