Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
Bath MP Don Foster announced that he will stand down for the 2015 General Election. Mr Foster said:
It has been an enormous privilege since 1992 to serve the people of this great city through five parliamentary sessions. However, my task is not over: there are 17 months before the next election. I have every intention of continuing to do all I can to work with and for local people.
The former Science teacher unsuccessfully contested the constituency of Bristol East in the 1987 General Election. In one of the major surprises of the 1992 Election, Foster sensationally defeated Chris Patten – the Chairman of the Conservative Party – in Bath, with a majority of 3,768.
Following his election, Don Foster became the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Education and Employment, under the leadership of Yeovil MP Paddy Ashdown. Foster then held the transport portfolio, before becoming the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in 2005. The Bath MP gained a shadow ministerial position in 2007, overseeing the Olympics. The 2010 General Election resulted in a hung parliament, leading to a coalition government between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The consequent dearth of positions stranded Foster on the backbenches. By 2012, Don Foster was appointed the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Department for Communities and Local Government, focussing on local communities. Thanks to his previous work, Don was chosen as the Deputy Mayor of the London 2012 Paralympic Village. A later reshuffle elevated the Bath MP to the position of Liberal Democrat Chief Whip.
Don is deeply interested in “issues in the developing world; he is a member of Amnesty International and the Child Poverty Action Group.” Local and national charities, such as Ted’s Big Day Out, Julian House and Water Aid UK, receive Foster’s support. He is also one of the Vice-Presidents of the Debating Group. Foster’s voting record reveals a staunch opposition to the Iraq War, ID cards and anti-terrorism laws, along with strong support for a wholly elected House of Lords. The Bath MP has taken some contentious stances, including being one of only 22 MPs to vote in favour of prisoner suffrage. Controversially for Bath’s students, Don Foster also voted to increase the cap on English undergraduate tuition fees, in spite of pledging not to do so.
Commenting on Foster’s announcement, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
After 33 years as a public servant – as a local councillor on Avon County Council and as MP for Bath – Don will be hugely missed. And with five stunning victories behind, he leaves big shoes to fill.
Cllr Paul Crossley, the Liberal Democrat leader of B&NES Council, said: “Locally, Don has always seen it as an important part of his role as MP to work with the local Council and it has been an honour, as Leader of the Council, to work with Don for many years.
According to The Guardian, the executive of Bath and North East Somerset Liberal Democrats will meet today to discuss Foster’s successor.