A North East MP has announced that he is preparing to retire, ending a 41-year career in politics.

Ian Mearns, who has been the Labour MP for Gateshead since 2010, will be stepping down from his role at the next General Election.

Mr Mearns has been a prominent voice in the town for decades, having first been elected as a councillor in 1983 and serving as deputy leader of the council before entering Parliament.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service on Thursday that it was “time to pass on the mantle to someone else”.

Labour is yet to select a new candidate for his seat, a stronghold for the party which is set to become Gateshead and Whickham under the redrawn parliamentary boundaries.

Mr Mearns said: “Simply put, in April I will be 67. I am already in receipt of my state pension and I think it would be unwise for me to enter into another five years [of a term as an MP].

I don’t want to be 70 or 71 [and still in Parliament], I know there are others who do but I am not one of them.

“I have always been, from the perspective of a trade unionist, speaking up for people’s right to retire. I think it would be hypocritical of me to carry on.

“Between my time in Westminster and the council, I have been an elected representative for 41 years. I think it is time to pass on the mantle to someone else.

“But my big regret is that I have spent 14 years here and the entirety has been in opposition.”
Mr Mearns said he took particular pride in his work on the council turning its education service from “one of the worst in our region to one of the strongest”, but accused the Conservatives of “dismantling” that in Government.

He has been a member of the Commons education select committee during his time in Parliament, as well as being chair of the Backbench Business Committee.


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The avid Newcastle United fan also heads the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Football Supporters.
Mr Mearns, who was born and educated in Newcastle, also chaired the unsuccessful campaign to set up a North East regional assembly during the Blair years.

The veteran Newcastle East MP Nick Brown also announced in December that he would be standing down at the next election, at the same time that he quit the Labour Party.

Current North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon, whose constituency is being abolished under the boundary changes, will be standing in the new Newcastle and Wallsend seat.