I'm happy to stand, age is no obstacle, says Walsall MP David Winnick

Walsall | News | Published:

If David Winnick serves another full term in Parliament, he will be almost 87 years old by the time he retires.

That is, of course, if he stands down at all.

The veteran MP for Walsall North – already the fourth oldest serving MP out of 650 – has been re-selected by the Labour party to contest the General Election in 2015, when he will be a month shy of his 82nd birthday.

He has represented the constituency since 1979 when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, and says he will continue to do so until he is either no longer able to or until the electorate no longer wants him.

His re-selection as a Labour candidate means that, if he holds on to the seat next year, Mr Winnick will keep his place as one of the oldest-serving MPs.

The oldest is currently Tory Father of the House, Sir Peter Tapsell, who is 84 but is standing down next year. His duty as the longest serving MP would be to preside over the election of a new speaker, should the position become vacant.

Labour's Sir Gerald Kaufman is 83 and is planning to stand again in his Manchester Gorton seat while firebrand left-winger Dennis Skinner, MP for Bolsover, is 82 and has been re-selected for next year.

They both entered the House at the 1970 election, along with Tory Ken Clarke and Labour's Michael Meacher.


Mr Winnick became an MP for the first time in 1966, the same day as Sir Peter, but lost his seat in Croydon in 1970, meaning he has a nine-year gap in his service compared with the others.

Britain will go to the polls in May next year and Mr Winnick turns 82 in June.

He said: "I am delighted to have been re-selected by the members of the constituency party and I am very grateful for their continued support.

"My commitment is no less than in previous elections. I want to see a fairer Britain and a fair deal for working people.


"If I felt any differently I wouldn't hesitate to retire. I'm looking forward to seeing a Labour government."

Mr Winnick has served under Labour leaders Harold Wilson, Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock, John Smith, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and now Ed Miliband.

Mr Winnick said he did not believe his age would have any impact on his ability to do the job but thought it was important to have older MPs as well as younger ones. The average age for an MP is 50.

"I am in favour of lowering the voting age. You only have to look at when the Youth Parliament is in the chamber to see how young people are able to make a contribution to politics. Most MPs are in the middle range of age. That's perfectly OK. But I don't see any reason why those people aged in their 70s and 80s should not be represented in the House of Commons as well.

"I've had the good fortune over many years to receive the confidence of the electorate and I hope to do so again next year. I would like to carry on as long as the electorate wants me to."

Mr Winnick's first election in 1966 was representing Croydon South, when Labour was led by Harold Wilson. He lost the seat in 1970, when the Conservatives and Prime Minister Ted Heath took office, returning to the Commons in 1979 after being selected for Walsall North.

He has outlasted the entirety of the Thatcher and Major governments, all of new Labour and the Coalition Government.

In 2009 Mr Winnick also played a key role in forcing the then Speaker, Michael Martin, to resign over his handling of the expenses scandal.

He has recently challenged David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions about the cabinet being full of out of touch millionaires and he has taken up the cause of people in Willenhall to save the town's main post office from closure.

Also contesting the Walsall north seat is Conservative candidate Douglas Hansen-Luke.

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