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Dame Tessa Jowell to step down as MP

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Post  Panda Sat 23 Nov - 6:16

Dame Tessa Jowell to step down as MP

Former Labour Cabinet minister Dame Tessa Jowell has announced she will not seek reelection as an MP in the 2015 election.

Dame Tessa Jowell

Dame Tessa Jowell Photo: PA

By James Kirkup, Political Editor, and Miranda Prynne

10:59PM GMT 21 Nov 2013

Dame Tessa Jowell, the former Labour Cabinet minister who helped secure the 2012 Olympics for London, is to stand down as an MP after nearly a quarter of a century in the House of Commons.

Dame Tessa, 66, announced that she will not seek reelection as MP for Dulwich and West Norwood in London at the 2015 election.

She has been an MP since 1992 and served as Culture Secretary in Tony Blair's government.

In that role, she oversaw British efforts to host the 2012 Olympics. She then served as minister under Gordon Brown, making her one of only a handful of MPs to serve as ministers throughout the entire 1997 to 2010 period of Labour government.

In opposition, she was initially a shadow cabinet minister, then took a role helping oversee the delivery of the London Games.

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There is speculation in Labour circles that Dame Tessa could stand as London mayor in 2016, but she gave no hint of her plans in her retirement announcement last night.

In a letter to her constituency party she said stepping down was "the hardest decision I have ever taken" but that it was time to "give somebody else the chance to take the next steps forward".

Dame Tessa is a close friend of Mr Blair, who paid tribute to her.

The former Prime Minister said: “Tessa Jowell is a very unusual type in the often brutal world of politics.

“She is immensely able, tough minded and determined. But at the same time and with the same people, she is kind, decent and loyal in a way I have seldom seen in politics.”

There were also tributes from British Olympic Association chairman Lord Sebastian Coe, who said she was the "political driving force" behind the 2012 Games bid and "an inseparable part of their ultimate success".

As a minister she also set up the Sure Start children's centre programme and was made a Dame last year for services to both politics and charity.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, who was informed of Dame Tessa’s decision last week, said the Olympics would be her "greatest legacy" and described her as a "unique politician" of warmth, spirit, loyalty and generosity.

"You have set a very high bar for whoever is chosen by the local party to succeed you and fight for the seat at the general election," he told her in a letter.

In her letter explaining her decision, Dame Tessa said it had been an "extraordinary privilege" to serve in government throughout the whole of Labour's three terms in office.

She said: “I know that you share with me a belief in the extraordinary responsibility of representation, the power of politics, the decency of politics and its capacity to make known, and put to use, the best of human nature.”

Despite backing David Miliband for the party leadership in 2010, she said his brother would be a "great prime minister
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