Standing down: Former East Midlands MPs sit out election campaign

John Hess
Political editor, East Midlands

image copyrightReuters
image captionRemoval companies were brought in to the Houses of Parliament as several MPs stood down

Away from the heat and battle of this election, three Conservative politicians in the East Midlands will view the campaign from the sidelines.

They're the MPs who've decided to call it a day and step down.

There was a poignant moment as those bowing out of Parliament queued in the Commons chamber to say farewell to the Speaker Jon Bercow.

For Erewash's Jessica Lee, there was a kiss on both cheeks and an embrace from the Speaker. For her, one five-year term was enough.

Before becoming an MP, she was a barrister specialising in child protection and adoption cases. A parliamentary life eventually lost its gloss for her.

image captionJessica Lee was given a kiss and a hug when she said goodbye to the Speaker of the House

Above the Commons' chamber, the office of Andrew Robathan has already been cleared in readiness for a new MP.

After 23 years - originally representing Blaby, then South Leicestershire - he won't be fighting in this general election.

"I shall miss having a ring side seat in the Commons and knowing what's going on. Of course, I shall miss that. But the truth is, it's time to move on," he told me.

Also moving on after 35 years is Charnwood's Stephen Dorrell.

The former Health Secretary and chairman of the Health Select Committee is now working as an adviser for accountants KPMG.

His announcement last year met with some controversy and media interest.

While still an MP, he was accused of a conflict of interest because KPMG was targeting NHS contracts.

Mr Robathan, a former government minister himself, believes the media is partially to blame for the public's poor views of MPs.

image captionAndrew Robathan said he will be spending more time on his Leicestershire farm

"I think it's distressing that people view MPs in a bad way and in a bad light. We are trying our best for the country," he told me.

"To be accused of being in it for money grubbing, when most of us are genuinely here for the public good, is both offensive and hurtful."

And Mr Robathan is also far from happy at how the Commons has changed. He blames the changes in the hours when the house sits, and particularly a reduction in late night sittings.

"I fear that it's not been changed for the better," he added.

"The change in hours has led to many unintended consequences. By trying to stuff the sittings into a shortened and diminished day, the work of select committees and the chamber have suffered. You can't be in two places at once."

Mr Robathan has no political memoirs up his sleeves. He's not forthcoming about any ambitions to go to the Lords either.

For him, his future constituency is his farm.

"If I end up doing nothing other than sitting back at my farm in Leicestershire, then that's what I'll do," he said.