Charles Clarke: I won’t stand for election in Norwich again

Former home secretary Charles Clarke has decided not to try to regain the Norwich constituency he lost in the last general election.

Former home secretary Charles Clarke has decided not to try to regain the Norwich constituency he lost in the last general election.

He issued a statement to the EDP last night saying that he will not be putting his name forward for the Labour candidacy for Norwich South in the general election scheduled for 2015, and that 'it is now time to pass the Labour baton to another candidate'.

His announcement, which brings down the curtain on his Commons career, was prompted by the opening of Labour's selection processes for a candidate for Norwich South.

Mr Clarke, who was 61 yesterday, served in cabinet under Tony Blair for five years - first as minister without portfolio and Labour chairman (2001-02), and then education secretary (2002-04) and home secretary 2004-06. As education secretary he drove controversial university top-up fees legislation through the Commons. After becoming home secretary he was heavily engaged in changes to counter-terrorism law.

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He was effectively dismissed from that post in 2006 after it emerged that over 1000 foreign prisoners had been freed without consideration being given to deportation. Having turned down offers of another cabinet post, he returned to the backbenches. And following Labour's change of leadership in 2007, he became arguably the leading critic in his party of Gordon Brown.

A son of civil service permanent secretary Sir Richard Clarke, the former Norwich MP became the president of the National Union of Students in 1975-77 and then served as chief of staff to Neil Kinnock throughout his leadership of the Labour Party.

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He first won Norwich South in the Blair landslide of 1997, securing a majority of over 14,000 votes. But that was steadily cut as the Labour administrations became less popular, and in last year's general election he lost the seat to the Liberal Democrats' Simon Wright by 310 votes.

Mr Clarke said yesterday that 'I have no intention of standing again for parliament', but added that he will retain an active interest and involvement in politics both in his academic work and through a range of other contributions. He is a visiting professor at the University of East Anglia, and is engaged in a range of policy studies in Britain and internationally.

'I am confident that Labour will regain Norwich South at the general election', he said. He will continue to live in the city.

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