UPDATED: Halifax MP to step down at election

Linda Riordan, Labour MP for Halifax
Linda Riordan, Labour MP for Halifax
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Halifax MP Linda Riordan is expected to announce her decision to stand down at the General Election later today.

Mrs Riordan informed her local Labour Party colleagues of her decision last night and a formal announcement is expected to follow today.

Linda Riordan is expected to announce she is standing down today

Linda Riordan is expected to announce she is standing down today

Halifax is one of the battleground seats in May’s election with Labour defending a majority of just 1,472 from 2010.

Leaving her decision until so close to election day means that the party nationally will be able to exert more control over who is selected to stand in the town.

Mrs Riordan said: “It is, after much thought, that I will be standing down as the town’s MP and I will not be contesting the forthcoming General Election campaign.

“It has been an incredibly tough decision to make. Over recent weeks and months my health, particularly my long-standing rheumatoid arthritis, has made it increasingly difficult to carry out the job as effectively as I would like. I think this decision is the best one for the people of Halifax and the constituency.

“I don’t want to go into a vital General Election campaign knowing that I can’t give that campaign the energy and commitment it needs.

“I would like to thank Halifax residents for putting their trust in me to serve two terms as MP. I would also like to thank local Labour Party Members who have supported me over the last decade. Finally, I also want to say how grateful I have been for the hard work of my staff, past and present, who have been committed, loyal and dedicated.

“Over the next few weeks I will continue to represent constituents to the best of my ability. There are some big issues and challenges ahead for the town. Not least, the ongoing campaign to save Calderdale Royal Hospital A & E from closure. I will go on speaking out on that and other issues that matter for communities across Halifax.

“It has been a real honour to have been Labour MP for the town I was born, grew up in and have always lived in.

“I wish the Labour Party, Halifax Constituency Labour Party and the next Labour candidate for Halifax every success in the forthcoming General Election campaign. It is vital for Halifax that we have a Labour MP and a Labour Government elected in May. I will give whoever is selected Labour candidate for the election campaign my full backing and support.”

Coun Tim Swift, leader of the Labour group on Calderdale Council, said: “I was shocked and sad to hear that Linda had decided to stand down due to her health.

“Her many friends and colleagues in the party and beyond will know this will have been a tough decision for her to take.

“We are grateful for the way she has campaigned strongly against the coalition’s health and welfare policies locally, and we’ll all be working together to make sure Halifax continues to be a strong Labour seat.”

Martin Burton, secretary of Halifax Labour, said: “Linda has been a hard-working and diligent constituency MP for ten years.

“She has been a fantastic representative for Halifax.

“There are thousands of constituents across the town who will be grateful for the problems and issues she has sorted for them.”

Josh Fenton-Glynn, Labour PPC for Calder Valley, said: “She’s been a very good advocate, fighting for and campaigning for the things that matter to people in Halifax.

“From her key role in the A&E campaign, to defending Calderdale’s Sure Start centre - people are going to remember her very fondly for that.”

Coun Dave Draycott (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) said: “This is a sad day but I fully respect and understand Linda’s decision.

“She has always been a great campaigner on many issues, not least the ongoing fight to save the A&E from closure.

“She has been a strong, passionate and committed representative for Halifax.”

Jago Parker, chair of Halifax Labour, said: “Halifax Constituancy Labour Party is proud of Linda’s record as MP, in particular her commitment to peace, championing equality and a fairer society.

“She has been a tireless defender of the founding principles of the NHS, welfare state and trade union rights.

“Linda has been an excellent constituency MP and socialist campaigner.

“We wish her well for the future.”

Philip Allott, Conservative PPC for Halifax, said: “I wish Linda well in her life out of politics, she has done some good work for Halifax over the years, but I think it’s time for me to take up the sword and represent the people of Halifax.”

Mrs Riordan was first elected as Halifax MP in 2005, following her Labour predecessor Alice Mahon’s decision to step down.