Tributes to Eric

2 May 2009

Local politicians have been paying tribute to Eric, who has announced his decision to stand down at the next election.

Local Labour activists and councillors have voiced their praise, but so too has his Tory opponent. Meantime Eric continues to work as the city's MP, while pondering life after Westminster.

Chair of the local Labour Party, Chris Southward, said,

"Eric Martlew has been a tremendous MP. I was there the night he was selected and he's always been there for us. We go out campaigning every Saturday morning and our MP is with us. That's a rarity these days."

The leader of the Labour group on Carlisle City Council, Michael Boaden, said,

The city flooded, new defences have been built
The city flooded, new defences have been built
"He has been a tireless worker for Carlisle for many years. We're a better city for what he has done."

The Conservative parliamentary candidate, John Stevenson, said,

"He has demonstrated, particularly over the foot and mouth crisis and the floods, what a good local MP can and should do."

A new hospital for the city Quicker links to the capital

A new hospital for the city

Quicker links to the capital

Meantime Eric has been thinking about his decision and life after the next election.

"It's been a privilege and honour to represent Carlisle for 20-odd years. But having been elected as a councillor in 1972 and as MP in 1987, I feel it is time to step down from front-line politics. They say a week is a long time in politics and I've done coming up to 40 years. I have given total commitment but now feel it's time to take things easier."

Cumbria UniversityTalking of his many achievements in his twenty-two years serving Carlisle at Westminster, Eric can look back on an impressive record. He lobbied hard for a new hospital for the city, which he got, for a university for the city, which he got, and the creation of over a thousand jobs in place of RAF 14MU, which he got.

Add to that new flood defences and new school buildings, the upgrade of the west coast main line and the saving of the Settle - Carlisle line, all of which he got.

The Settle line - saved
The Settle line - saved
Typically modest, Eric said,

"You don't achieve things on your own. There are always other people."

He also thought of the many individuals he has helped in the city.

"But it's the help you give to ordinary people the system has failed that stays with you.

"A lady came to me whose mother was suffering with a severe liver condition. She was missed off the list for surgery at one of the Newcastle hospitals. We got in the car, drove across to Newcastle, saw the chief executive and got the decision changed."

Eric is uncertain about life after Westminster.

"The glib answer is to take a gap year. I left school at 16 and have worked ever since. The reality is I don't know. I'll spend the next year thinking about what to do. I will certainly continue to live in Carlisle."

"People will see me shopping in Tesco or walking through the city. That's my way of keeping in touch."

Asked about moving from green benches to red, he doubted he would be offered a peerage.

"There are a lot of former cabinet ministers who will probably be given the offer before I am."

Eric regrets the lack of progress in the city since 1999, and would have been able to achieve more working with a Labour City Council.

He said,

"I think the city has gone back because we've had a city council with no vision."

And he has this advice for whoever succeeds him.

"You have to have your own style. You can't pretend to be something you're not.

Nobody could accuse Eric of that!

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On behalf of Eric Martlew, 3 Chatsworth Square Carlisle Cumbria CA1 1HB