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Comment: Campaign is dominated by the names that are absent

General Election 2019 | Published:

Never mind the candidates who have been declared to stand – this election has so far been largely dominated by those whose names won't be on the ballot paper.

Glyn Davies

Dozens of high profile figures are missing from the official nominations lists, meaning regardless of the overall result of the December 12 poll, the next Parliament will have a very different look about it in terms of personnel.

There are those who have quit – either because age has caught up with them, or they have simply had enough; those who have stepped aside for political or personal reasons; and those who have had their hands forced – either by their own parties or circumstances beyond their control.

In the former category we have the likes of Labour's Adrian Bailey, who stood down after 19 years as the MP for West Bromwich West at the age of 73, and Tory Glyn Davies, 75, who has stepped aside in Montgomeryshire after expressing frustration with the gridlock in Westminster over Brexit.

Jeremy Lefroy has also bowed out after nine years in Stafford.

In category two, former Labour MP Ian Austin took the unusual – and some would say brave – step of endorsing the Tories as he bid farewell to the Dudley North seat he has held since 2005, expressing his despair at the state of his old party under Jeremy Corbyn.

Margot James was drummed out of the Conservative Party, then brought back in, before deciding not to stand as a candidate in Stourbridge because her local party had been taken over by hardline Brexiteers.

Meanwhile former West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson, the Labour deputy leader and captain of the moderates, insisted his reasons for quitting were "personal not political", although it can be assumed that the treatment he received from the hard-left of the party must surely have played some part in his decision.

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Tory big hitters Amber Rudd and Nicky Morgan have cited the amount of personal abuse they have received as the reason for their departures from the Commons, while former Chancellor Philip Hammond and veteran MP Ken Clarke both had the Tory whip removed due to their views on Brexit.

Naturally, it is those who have been mired in scandal who have garnered the majority of the headlines.

Disgraced former Tory MP Andrew Griffiths narrowly survived an attempt to oust him as the candidate for Burton at the start of this week, before stepping aside to make way for his wife to stand in his place.

And in Ynys Mon Chris Davies has stood down as the Conservative candidate after he came under a fresh attack over his conviction for falsifying expenses.

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Some have refused to go quietly.

Roger Godsiff was kicked out of Labour over his support for protesters in the Birmingham schools LGBT row, so he's standing as an independent instead.

The same route has been taken by Chris Williamson, who was barred from standing in Derby North over his suspension from Labour over his comments on anti-Semitism.

After the election in 2017, there were a total of 93 new MPs, but this time around there are likely to be many more.

With so many new candidates standing – and the possibility of gains for minority parties such as the Lib Dems – could we be in for a repeat of 2010 when more than 200 new MPs took their places in the Commons?

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