Long-serving Labour MP will step down at next election

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ANOTHER long-serving Labour MP is to step down from his Yorkshire seat next year.

Mike Wood, the MP for Batley and Spen, has announced he will quit Parliament at the next election to make way for a “younger candidate”.

Mr Wood, who turns 68 on Monday, has held the West Yorkshire seat since 1997.

“It was a difficult decision, but I think it is the right one,” he said yesterday. “It will allow the Labour party to find a new, younger candidate to carry on the work here.

“I want to be absolutely clear that I am standing down, not winding down. My staff and I will continue to work and fight for local people right up to the day of the next general election.”

Mr Wood becomes the third long-serving Labour MP in Yorkshire to announce they will be stepping down in May 2015.

George Mudie, the MP for Leeds East, and Meg Munn, the MP for Sheffield Healey, will also quit at the next election.

However, while both those seats are certain to return another Labour MP, Batley and Spen is a little less clear cut, with a Labour majority of just 4,400.

Labour’s loss of incumbency will be a boost to the Conservatives, who believe they have an outside chance of taking the seat - though with Labour ahead in the polls, the Opposition party remain clear favourites. The Tories have yet to choose a candidate in Batley and Spen. The Labour party must now begin its own selection process.

Ken Lowe, chair of Batley and Spen Labour Party, said: “Mike is a fantastic MP who is devoted to this constituency. He has enjoyed the unfaltering support of the local party.

“He has set a very high standard, and we must now select someone who will serve Batley and Spen just as well. He will be a hard act to follow.”