Barking MP Margaret Hodge 'will not stand' in next general election

MP for Barking Margaret Hodge

Labour MP for Barking Dame Margaret Hodge - Credit: Ken Mears

In this column, former Islington councillor and current Labour MP for Barking Dame Margaret Hodge announces - after nearly three decades serving constituents - that she will not stand in the next general election. 

The next election will be held before December 2024.

By then, I will have enjoyed the privilege of being your MP for 30 years. When that election comes, it will be time for me to step aside and for a new person to take up the reins representing the people of Barking and the heart of Dagenham.

I want to thank you all for kindness you have shown me down the years. Your support has meant a great deal to me as I have grown to know you and work with you on many issues.

Together we have always tried to make our community a better place for everybody who lives here.

I know that I have been lucky enough to have one of the best jobs in the world. As a young girl, I never dreamt I would end up leading such an interesting and rewarding life.

I am proud of my achievements as a minister during the Labour government, as chair of the Public Accounts Committee, and most recently as a campaigning backbencher.

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But my biggest kicks came from my work in Barking and Dagenham.

In the past 27 years, we have held countless coffee afternoons and street meetings. I have listened to what matters to you and we have got things done. I’ve dealt with more than 5,000 individual cases each year.

There’s nothing more satisfying than getting a result on a constituent’s problem, whether it’s about housing, a hospital appointment, dealing with rubbish or sorting an immigration issue.

One way to look back is to try and chose 27 achievements in 27 years. So here we go:

1. Kicked the BNP out of Barking in 2010

2. Babies are born in Barking again with the birthing unit in Barking hospital

3. Stopped the closure of the A&E at King George

4. Persuaded Tony Blair to build Queen's Hospital

5. Re-routed the No Five bus to Queen’s hospital

6. Worked with faith groups to secure premises for safe worship

7. Gave over 200 armed forces medals for local veterans

8. My Christmas card competition attracts 5,000 entries from school children

9. Ensured we got Sure Start Children’s Centres in the borough under the Labour government

10. Persuaded Transport for London (TfL) to provide more trains on the Barking to Gospel Oak line

11. Helped extend the East London Transit bus to Barking Riverside

12. Secured free accommodation for Samuel Garside House residents affected by the fire

13. Helped local children engage in politics through over 500 school visits

14. Set up neighbourhood police teams in every ward

15. Made sure there was a police station in Barking Town Centre during austerity

16. Supported numerous voluntary sector organisations to get started

17. Secured £1million from the London mayor for local charities

18. Raised thousands for local organisations by taking part in surveys

19. Won lottery funding to restore Barking Park

20. Secured funding for a community-led project in Thames Ward

21. Found a location for our first food bank

22. Had Renwick Road bridge repaired for better access into Thames

23. Stopped GPs using expensive 0844 numbers

24. Stopped Barking Magistrates' Court closing twice – but I lost that battle third time around

25. Forced the government to get adequate oxygen supplies to Queen's during Covid

26. Campaigned for mistreated Barking residents who were part of the Windrush generation

27. Fought for community improvements, from a wall to protect Scrattons Farm to cleaning up the river in Mayesbrook Park and helping mums get play equipment in Valence Park

Before I stop being your MP, I want to add at least three new achievements to my list.

I’ll make sure the hospitals merger with Barts doesn’t lead to money and services being directed away from Barking.

I will campaign for a new Sure Start so we can show how creating services around children’s needs gives them the best start in life.

I want to make sure residents affected by the cladding scandal live in safe homes and don’t pick up the bill for poor construction.

Taking the decision to stop has been hard because I love my job. But I intend to faithfully serve you over my last few years. I will always campaign to make a difference for everyone in our community.

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