Sir Alan: A man of the people

Remember When June 2012. Images from 25 years ago.'A victorious Alan Beith MP after the election count.
Remember When June 2012. Images from 25 years ago.'A victorious Alan Beith MP after the election count.

Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith has announced that he will be standing down from Parliament in 2015.

By then he will have served for nearly 42 years as the MP for the Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency.

He is also the longest-serving Liberal MP since Lloyd George and events will take place later this year to mark this and his four decades in office.

Sir Alan said: “I intend to continue to be a very active MP over the next two years and look forward to working closely with a candidate for 2015 who will be chosen by all the members of the Berwick constituency’s Liberal Democrat Association.”

The constituency seat has always been hotly-contested between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.

A loyal servant of the people, hard-working and an honourable politician – these are just some of the words used to describe Sir Alan Beith.

The political stalwart has held the Berwick-upon-Tweed seat since 1973, making him the constituency’s longest-serving MP.

During those four decades in office, he has played an important role in Northumberland life and has campaigned on a number of important local issues, such as new school buildings in Alnwick, better facilities at Alnmouth railway station and high-speed broadband.

Perhaps one of his biggest fights has been to dual the A1 north of Morpeth.

North Northumberland’s Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who is founder of the A1 Action Group, paid her tributes to Sir Alan.

“He is an amazing man,” she said. “He has been an incredibly loyal and committed servant to the constituency.

“He has been an honourable politician and I have nothing but respect for him. I will ask for him to be elevated to the House of Lords.”

Former Alnwick mayor Ken Gray joined the Liberal Party in 1974 and has worked with Sir Alan for many years, including accompanying him on a number of constituency tours.

He said: “Sir Alan has been a very loyal and faithful servant of this constituency. He is really hard-working and has gone out of his way to help people. He will be a very hard act to follow.”

One of the longest-serving members of the House of Commons, Sir Alan’s most recent electoral victory came in May 2010 and he has since served as part of the Coalition Government. He currently chairs the Parliamentary Justice Committee and Liaison Committee.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg said: “He has been a huge figure in British and both Liberal and Liberal Democrat politics over an astonishing four decades. When Sir Alan speaks, he commands the attention of all parties in Westminster.

“He has held and excelled at pretty much every key role in the Liberals and Liberal Democrats.

“I trust and rely on his enormous wisdom and greatly admire his passionate commitment to his constituency and to the North East, which shines through in everything he does.”

Some of the roles Sir Alan has held over the years within the Liberal Democrats’ Parliamentary Party include covering the Education and Fisheries portfolios between 1977 and 1983 and being Foreign Affairs Spokesman from 1985 to 1987.

Heather Cairns, chairman of the Berwick-upon-Tweed Constituency Liberal Democrats, said she respected Sir Alan’s decision and the search was now on to find his replacement.

“Sir Alan has worked hard for the people of Northumberland for 40 years. He is an astute politician and held in high regard in the Commons by his colleagues of all political colours.

“I am sorry that he won’t be our MP but he feels that this is the right time for him to go and I respect that.

“As the executive, our hard work starts now. Selecting a new candidate has begun but it is in its very early stages.”