Breaking news: Greenwich & Woolwich MP Nick Raynsford is to stand down at the next general election, he told Labour Party members at a meeting in Charlton tonight.

Nick Raynsford

Raynsford, who will be 70 at the time of May 2015’s election, has represented the local area since 1992, when he was elected MP for the old Greenwich seat after beating incumbent Social Democrat Rosie Barnes by a slim majority. He also spent just over a year as MP for Fulham after winning a by-election there in 1986.

Since 1997 he has won Greenwich & Woolwich with comfortable five-figure majorities, and his decision is likely to spark a scramble among local Labour figures keen on almost-certain entry into parliament. The party may choose to go for an all-female shortlist, like neighbouring Lewisham Deptford.

Raynsford is known for his expertise in housing and construction – but criticised for his closeness to the construction industry, where he earns a sizeable income from other interests, including the chairmanship of Triathlon Homes, responsible for affordable housing in Stratford’s Olympic Park.

He has controversially backed the almost universally-unpopular Greenwich Market hotel development plans, since scrapped, as well as two schemes supported by Conservative mayor Boris Johnson: the Silvertown Tunnel and his idea for an airport in the Thames Estuary.

But he was also credited with helping bring Crossrail to Woolwich, as well as backing other regeneration schemes in the area. He’s recently laid into plans to downgrade Lewisham Hospital’s A&E, as well as cuts to police and fire services.

As minister for London under Tony Blair, Raynsford was also instrumental in the creation of the capital’s mayoralty, and even put himself forward to be Labour’s candidate in the 2000 election. Former mayor Ken Livingstone has credited him for his work in getting the GLA’s City Hall HQ built in time and on budget.

Livingstone said in 2010 that Raynsford would have been “a much more effective cabinet Minister than many of those who were [appointed]. There’s clearly something wrong about Tony Blair that he didn’t recognise that.”

11pm update: Expect a flood of applicants to replace Nick Raynsford, all-woman shortlist or not. All-female shortlists are decided beyond local level, although local activists will have a say.

Outgoing Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts will be many people’s favourite. But he said last year he’d be “bored” as an MP, is believed to want to remain in the council cabinet, and he’s also unpopular with local party members. David Prescott, son of former deputy prime minister John, will be a front-runner, as will Greenwich West councillor Matt Pennycook. I mentioned Greenwich cabinet member Jackie Smith for the council leadership – would she fancy Westminster rather than Woolwich?

Whatever’s decided, expect a wide open field – if you can design websites, get friendly with Labour party members now. Some of them might want you to do a bit of work for them…

Friday 8.40am update: I’ve been I reminded of one person I missed out above… Len Duvall, current Greenwich and Lewisham London Assembly member, ex-Greenwich Council leader and Jackie Smith’s husband. If Duvall was to get it, it may prompt a by-election for his seat on City Hall, which he has held since 2000.

Friday 12.20pm update: Len Duvall has confirmed on Twitter he would put his name forward if the party did not go for an all-woman shortlist.

21 replies on “Greenwich & Woolwich MP Nick Raynsford to stand down”

  1. They could cobble together a perfectly good website by themselves using WordPress or blogger – see Janet Daby’s site (she’s a prospective candidate for Lewisham Deptford.) I know in Lewisham they’ve looked to the council for PPCs, so maybe in Greenwich they’ll be different and parachute someone in – Siobhan Benita anyone?! 😉

  2. Cllrs Angela Cornforth and Jagir Sekhon tried Erith and Thamesmead selection last time. So they seem interested into a parliamentary career. However, they didn’t make much of an impact in that chaotic selection.

  3. But perhaps Alex Grant wants to become the second Raynsford staffer to follow him into Parliament (no other parallel with Alison Seabeck I hasten to add).

    Another name that has been mentioned in the past is David Gardner, chair of the local Party, ex Greenwich councillor and ace boundary demarcator.

  4. If Len runs, Len wins, easy choice for the party, really liked by the community, and certainly more in the real world then some of the policy wonks mentioned above. An outsider worth watching will be Annie Keys, former cllrs, now running a childrens charity in Charlton, and a recent winner of a Stephen Lawrence women of the year award.

    What the party shouldn’t do, is select someone who lacks the personality and the ability to deal with people from the wide range of communities in Greenwich and Woolwich, a SE10 candidate would be the wrong choice.

  5. I would put an outside bet on musical chairs.

    Len Duvall for Greenwich & Woolwich, Chris Roberts to the London Assembly and Matthew Pennycook will lead the Council.

  6. Enjoying the speculation, please keep the names coming. I’d be very interested to find out what the chances are of G&W going for an all-female list – does the neighbouring seat going the same way, and the presence of high-profile male possibilities have any bearing on it?

    A lesson from history? The last time the local Labour party (at least the Greenwich seat) selected a local candidate was Joseph Reeves, elected in 1945 and formerly of the old Deptford borough council. He had the seat for 14 years. (The old Woolwich seat was in local hands for longer.)

    I should say that while I’ve personally disagreed with Nick on lots, I’ve always found him to a courteous and very decent man – going right back to the days when he helped me on a story when I was a student journalist in 1992, and through to my pop at becoming a councillor in 2010 when I found myself alongside him at a “democracy day” event at Blackheath Bluecoat school. In the way he conducts himself in public, there are others in local politics who could learn a lot from him.

  7. The fact that the next door constituency received an AWS is not a guarantee to avoid another AWS.
    For ex before 2010 GE, there were 3 vacancies in Sunderland…result 3 AWS. 2 vacancies in Newcastle…result 2 AWS.
    However, North East was one of the regions with the lowest number of female MPs. On the other hand, London is at the opposite end: it’s the region with the highest proportion of Labour women MPs (excluding SW where there are very few Labour MPs at all).
    This will increase the chances of an Open shortlist in G&W.

    Looked from the outside, the decision making process itself is a bit mysterious in some ways.
    I believe that the regional party will meet with the CLP inquiring their opinions about AWS/Open Shortlist. Then they will draw up a report for the NEC. The NEC Organization committee (which is made up by basically almost all NEC members bar 4-5 people) will make the final decision.

    In between the vacancy is announced and the NEC Org Committee final decision, there are all sort of lobbying by interested parties…..

  8. As Chair of Greenwich and Woolwich Labour Party, it is interesting to see all the speculation about our Parliamentary Candidate for 2015. I am sure it will be an invigorating, fair, inclusive and very democratic process attracting a wide range of candidates from near and far. However, Nick Raynsford will be a very hard act to follow. He has been a tremendous local champion both rooted in our local community and really effective on the national stage. From leading the campaign to get Crossrail to Woolwich, to bringing home the Olympics to Greenwich and Woolwich against stiff opposition, and even getting us the Dome/O2 and North Greenwich station, Nick has been tremendous. He has hardly ever missed one of his regular surgeries or his constituency Fridays. And he still probably has two more years! And Labour in G&W will not be diverted from campaigning for our local NHS services, to protect fire and police services and to tackle big issues such as poverty, jobs and poor air quality. All supporters are welcome to join our vibrant party and crusade for a fairer society

  9. David Gardner is Len Duvall’s campaign manager for MP, apparently done a deal guaranteeing David a council seat. So much for open democratic debate.

  10. Pat – don’t talk nonsense please. How could Len Duvall “guarantee” David Gardner a council seat? All Labour Party selections have one-member one-vote.

  11. I see that “Pat” is claiming I am running one of the campaigns to be selected, for Parliamentary Candidate – as long as I am Chair of the local Party I will not be involved in any candidate campaign and there are no deals. As Matty says, Labour is democratic and all selections are one member, one vote secret ballots. . .

  12. Pat – My partner and I have know Len Duvall for over 25 years. He is his own. Campaign manager. He was Woolwich born and bred and will be a great advocate for the area, as he already is. He cannot guarantee anyone a seat on anything, it does not work like that.

  13. I believe Len is the more mature and time served candidate for this post probably the only one who can fulfill the shoes of Nick Raynsford. This is safe Labour seat may any of the other candidate can win it, only question remains whether he or she can influence the policy making, and represent concerns of this constituency.

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