Having temporarily relocated to the Serpentine in Hyde Park for a bit of rummaging in that there London, the Hippo returned to Hatherton Lake today to learn that the MP for Walsall South has called it a day.
Mr George has, of course, said this before and has then changed his mind, but this time it seems his mind is made up. Having been cleared of any expenses fiddling by the Legg report and with a clear conscience, the big guy at the age of 67 has been honest enough to say that his health is suffering, he doesn`t understand the internet and he would like to see his wife a bit more. If only some of the old fogeys on Walsall Council could embrace that epiphany. Some of the younger ones who were puking up Farleys Rusks when George entered parliament might wish to look to him as an example of how to conduct themselves in local politics and put their constituents before ambition.
The Welshman has lived in Walsall since 1972, which is longer than most people born here if demographic statistics are to be believed. He was elected as MP for Walsall South in 1974 and has stayed in the commons ever since.
An influential backbencher, he chaired the House of Commons Defence Committee between 1997 and 2005 and has been a member of the Privy Council since 2001. Not bad for a lad from Mountain Ash, Glamorgan.
But it is as a constituency MP for Walsall that Bruce George will be best remembered. He has held constituency surgeries every week for the last 30 years which is considered to be something of a record. Eschewing fancy London ways he has stayed close to the people of his adopted town and has been a very visible presence in schools, care homes, hospitals and, yes, the local press.
In the next election, which might be sooner than we think if Cameron and his Eton chums keep exposing themselves in public, Walsall South could be seen as a safe Labour seat. If that is the case, God knows what apparatchik metro centric jerk Labour Central Office will foist upon us. The danger is very clear and the local Labour Party must make sure that they select candidates that will represent local people, not some suit from an Ad Agency with a pretty face who is good at spin.
With a fondness for curry, fish and chips, beer and Walsall people, the hippo has a lot in common with Bruce George MP. The difference between the hippo and Bruce is that the hippo is fatter and will never be a great parliamentarian, superb local MP or a thoroughly decent, honest and hard working representative.
The fact that he will no longer represent this town is a sad, sad prospect.