Barry Sheerman to stand down as Huddersfield MP after six decades in post

Yorkshire's longest-serving MP Barry Sheerman has announced he is to stand down at the next election after representing Huddersfield since the 1970s.

Barry Sheerman pictured in 2013.
Barry Sheerman pictured in 2013.

The former university lecturer became Huddersfield East MP in 1979 and has represented the town since then. The Huddersfield East seat was abolished for the 1983 election but Mr Sheerman was elected as the representative in the replacement Huddersfield seat in 1983.

The 81-year-old announced his decision to his constituents through a video on Twitter.

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"I have been your member of Parliament for a long time, over 40 years. It has been such a pleasure working with you to make this town the success it has become," he said.

"When we started all those years ago, it was a fairly traditional town but we had to look to the future and together we have built Huddersfield into a modern, exciting university town with diverse employment, a great number of cultural attractions and so much to do.

"It is a place to bring up a family, to have a good life, to work and play.

"I have decided not to stand at the next General Election. That is some time away - it could be two-and-a-half years but I wanted you to know that I won't be the candidate next time. There is going to be a transition but meanwhile I am going to be your member of Parliament, serving the community and working with you. There is much to be done.

"I will be representing you and the town in Parliament as vigorously as before.

Barry Sheerman pictured in 1996.

"It is time for change, it is going to be gradual but it is going to come. I want to thank you for the love and friendship and great time I've had as your member of Parliament. I've tried to give the town everything I could and you have given it back very strongly."

Mr Sheerman was born in Middlesex in 1940. He was working as a university lecturer in Wales when he decided to go into politics after his first daughter died at birth.

Mr Sheerman, who went on to have four other children with his wife Pamela and is now a grandfather of 12, told The Yorkshire Post in 2019: “It was horrendous to go through. Once I had come through the grieving process, I thought I don’t want to lecture any longer. I wanted to be able to change the world and make it a better place.”

He initially got elected as a local councillor in Wales - using his full name Barry John Sheerman on the ballot paper to capitalise on the popularity of then-Welsh rugby player Barry John.

Barry Sheerman is to step down at the next election.

After serving as a councillor for seven years, Sheerman was selected as the Labour candidate for the October 1974 by-election in the safe Tory seat of Taunton. He finished second and was selected as the party’s candidate for Huddersfield East in 1979.

The Huddersfield East constituency was subsequently abolished but Sheerman was elected as Huddersfield MP in 1983 and has represented the constituency ever since.

Mr Sheerman became a passionate pro-EU politician and drew considerable controversy in 2017 when he said better educated people voted for Remain. He said in 2019 that he stood by the remarks made in a BBC interview.

“I don’t regret it. I’m a social scientist. I look at the facts and the truth was in those parts of the country that had higher levels of education and skills including every university town voted to Remain. That is still the truth. I run every election on integrity, honesty and loyalty. There is a correlation. It wasn’t condescending, it was the truth.”

Barry Sheerman with David Blunkett in 2001.

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Barry Sheerman is one of the country's longest-serving MPs.